SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defends his company’s ban on President Donald Trump in a philosophical Twitter thread that is his first public statement on the subject.
When Trump encouraged his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol last week and then went on to tweet potentially ominous messages, Dorsey said the resulting public safety risk created an “extraordinary and untenable circumstance” for the company. After already briefly suspending Trump’s account the day of the Capitol uprising, Twitter on Friday banned Trump completely, then beat the president̵
“I’m not celebrating and I’m not proud that we’ll have to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter,” Dorsey wrote. But he added: “I think it was the right decision for Twitter.”
Dorsey acknowledged that shows of strength like the Trump ban could set dangerous precedents and even call them a sign of “failure.” Although not in so many words, Dorsey suggested that Twitter should find ways to avoid having to make such decisions in the first place. Exactly how it would work is not clear, although it may vary from earlier and more effective moderation to a basic restructuring of social networks.
In Dorsey-speak, that means Twitter needs to work harder to “promote a healthy conversation.”
Extreme measures such as banning Trump also highlight the extraordinary power that Twitter and other Big Tech companies can exercise without responsibility or recourse, Dorsey wrote.
While Twitter struggled with the Trump problem, for example, it closed. Apple, Google and Amazon effectively the right-wing site Parler by denying it access to app stores and cloud hosting services. The companies accused Parler of not being aggressive enough to remove calls for violence, which Parler has denied.
Dorsey refused to criticize her colleagues from Big Tech directly, even noting that “this moment in time may require this dynamic.” In the long run, however, he suggested that aggressive and dominant behavior could threaten the “noble purpose and ideals” of the open Internet by anchoring the power of some organizations over a common one that should be accessible to all.
However, the Twitter co-founder had little specific to say about how his platform or other Big Tech companies could avoid such choices in the future. Instead, he touched on an idea that literally sounds a bit like the very end of Twitter – a long-term project to develop a technological “standard” that could free social networks from centralized control of people like Facebook and Twitter.
But at the moment, Dorsey wrote, Twitter’s goal “is to disarm as much as we can and ensure that we all build towards a greater common understanding and a more peaceful existence on earth.”