Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made his first public statements days after the social media platform banned the US President Donald Trump. A few hours ago, in a series of tweets, Dorsey explained why Trump was banned from the social network and insists that Twitter made the right decision. There have also been voices on social media which are calling this an overreach by social media networks (Facebook also barred Donald Trump from Facebook and Twitter apps for the time being, for instance) and could set a dangerous precedent that could see them ban any user at any time. Dorsey admits that the ban came about because Twitter failed to promote healthy conversation.
In a series of tweets in which he also enthused about Bitcoin and how it is an internet technology not influenced by a single person or entity, Dorsey said that Twitter takes no pride in the decision and that the ban of Donald Trump is no reason to celebrate for the tech giant. He says that Twitter took action after clear warnings, and also factored in the warnings of threats to physical safety, on Twitter and in the real world. “I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” he says. Dorsey admits that Twitter failed on its part to ensure that the platform is a place for healthy conversations. “While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation. And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us,” he says. Will this change anything at Twitter or Twitter how we know it? We don’t know just yet.
There has been the debate about whether any social media platform or tech company should have the power or the rights to ban just about anyone from any conversation online. There are always two sides of the coin. Dorsey says, “Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.” He is also very straightforward in saying that any user who doesn’t agree with Twitter’s rules and enforcement of these rules can switch to another service.
The problem with Twitter has been that there is enough visible evidence that they allowed Donald Trump to use the platform as his megaphone, for good and bad, for far too long. Twitter has, for long, chosen to deploy a completely different policy to such tweets by “world leaders”. In early 2018, Twitter had taken pains to explain that “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.” It had also cited global, public conversation. In 2019, Twitter said that they would label tweets from politicians that break the community guidelines, but still leave them available for viewing. And followed through on it steadfastly, till now.