CEO of Twitter opens up about permanent ban on outgoing US President Donald Trump, after criticism from some quarters over ‘freedom of speech’
CEO Jack Dorsey has opened up about the decision of Twitter to permanently ban outgoing US President Donald Trump from its platform.
He admitted that it was a ‘dangerous’ precedent, but said the microblogging platform was placed in an untenable situation, due to the false and misleading content from Trump, along with his incitement of terrorists to overthrow the democratic process of the US government on Wednesday 6 January.
Twitter has been applauded for its ban on Trump, but some have criticised the move including German leader Angela Merkel and Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador, who are no fans of the outgoing US president.
Their concern centres around free speech, but others argue that free speech does not allow people to call for the overthrow of democratic governance.
Tech firms reacted quickly to the attempted coup on 6 January, where mob of armed Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building and clashed with police, leaving five people dead including one policeman who was beaten to death. Firearms and an explosive device were recovered.
Apple, Google and Amazon Web Services have also banned the far right messaging app Parler as big tech clamped down on the dangerous content being generated by Trump and his supporters.
And YouTube this week suspended the account of US President Donald Trump for seven days, and warned it may extend the period.
Dangerous, but necessary
Into this highly charged atmosphere CEO Jack Dorsey sought to expanded on Twitter’s reasons for the permanent ban on Trump in a lengthy Twitter post.
“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here, ” Dorey tweeted. “After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?”
“I believe this was the right decision for Twitter,” he added. “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.”
Dorsey admitted that the Trump ban “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous”, and said the ban has real and significant ramifications, but admitted “I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation.”
Dorsey has long sought to lessen the toxic nature of Twitter at times.
In April 2019 Dorsey said he wanted to move “away from outrage and mob behaviour and towards productive, healthy conversation” on the platform.
A week later and Dorsey actually had a face to face meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office. That meeting was potentially awkward for both parties, as President Trump had just criticised the platform, claiming it was discriminating against him and other republicans after the number of his followers fluctuated.
And it should not be forgotten that banning Trump was a risk for Dorsey, as he had survived a shareholder rebellion when activist shareholder group Elliott Management took a “sizeable stake” in the firm.
Elliott Management was founded by billionaire Paul Singer, who is a major Republican party donor.
Twitter’s board of directors expressed their support for Dorsey in November 2020.