Udayavni Special

Dorsey: Trump Twitter ban is ‘right’ but ‘dangerous’

Team Udayavani, Jan 14, 2021, 12:52 PM IST


New York: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has defended his company’s unprecedented decision to permanently suspend US President Donald Trump from the popular social media site, but warned that it could set a “dangerous precedent” and reflective of the company’s failure “to promote healthy conversation” across its platforms.

Dorsey broke his silence since the company’s major decision in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

Twitter on Friday announced that Trump has been permanently suspended from Twitter due to the ‘risk of further incitement of violence’, days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol and caused the deaths of four civilians and a police officer.

The unprecedented move by the California-based social media platform came after President Trump tweeted that he would not attend the inauguration of his successor Joe Biden on January 20.

“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here. 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?,” Dorsey said.

“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 said, on the day Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting the Capitol Hill riot last week.

Asserting that having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications and while there are clear and obvious exceptions, he said, “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.” “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,” Dorsey said.

He added that the check and accountability on this power has always been the fact that a service like Twitter is one small part of the larger public conversation happening across the internet.

“If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service,’ he said.

Dorsey pointed out that this concept was challenged last week when a number of foundational internet tool providers also decided not to host what they found dangerous.

“I do not believe this was coordinated. More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others.

“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet. A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same,” he said.

Dorsey stressed that there is a need to look critically at inconsistencies of “our policy and enforcement. Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivise distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can’t erode a free and open global internet.” Speaking about his passion for cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Dorsey said Bitcoin demonstrates a model of a foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity. “This is what the internet wants to be, and over time, more of it will be.

“This will take time to build,” he said, adding that it is important that the company acknowledges this is a time of great uncertainty and struggle for so many around the world.

“Our goal in this moment is to disarm as much as we can, and ensure we are all building towards a greater common understanding, and a more peaceful existence on earth” and that the internet and global public conversation is the best and most relevant method of achieving this. “I also recognise it does not feel that way today. Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together,” he said.

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