Twitter CEO Says Trump Ban Sets ‘Dangerous’ Precedent
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has defended the company’s decision to ban President Donald Trump’s twitter account, but acknowledged that the move sets a ‘dangerous’ precedent.
In a series of tweets posted on Wednesday, January 13, Dorsey explained why Twitter took the extreme step of permanently banning the @realdonaldtrump account, as well as some of his concerns over what the move could mean for the company going forward.
He wrote that he ‘[did] not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here’, saying that while he believed the ban was the ‘right’ thing to do, he feared it ‘sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation’.
Dorsey also admitted that the escalation in rhetoric that led to Trump being taken offline at least partly represented a ‘failure’ on Twitter’s part, and demonstrated that ultimately the platform was not doing enough to promote ‘healthy conversation’.
Twitter has faced heavy criticism for several years for its reluctance to ban accounts spreading hate speech and misinformation. Over the past year, its has introduced several new measures designed to moderate content, but repeatedly defended not applying the policies to Trump’s account, saying that he was protected by his status as a world leader.
While many have celebrated the decision of social media companies to suspend or remove Trump’s various accounts, others have criticised the decision as Big Tech ‘censorship’ and violating the principle of free speech. Responding to the news earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the move as ‘problematic’.
Social media companies generally argue that as private companies they are not bound by the First Amendment, with users instead required to abide by each platform’s terms of service agreement. However, Dorsey also said he understood the concerns, tweeting that ‘a company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same’.
Lawmakers in the US are expected to attempt to introduce new measures regulating Big Tech companies in the coming years. One possible option is the repeal of Section 230, which currently protects social media companies from being held responsible for what their users post. Both Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have said they are open to ‘revising‘ the law, but would oppose repealing it entirely.
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