Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the decision to ban President Trump was necessary but raises questions about the power of social media companies and Twitter’s failure to promote healthy conversation.
“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,” the CEO wrote as part of a series of tweets, his first public comments since Twitter permanently removed Trump’s account Friday.
“That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey added. “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.”
Dorsey expressed concern about the collective power of technology companies to silence someone like Trump in unison. Other companies, including Facebook Inc., Snap Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch, also suspended the president’s accounts. Some of his supporters took their protests to Parler, an alternative social network, until Apple Inc. and Google pulled the service from their app stores and Amazon stopped providing cloud services.
Dorsey said he did not believe this was coordinated but added that he hopes the social media industry will move toward a “decentralized standard,” citing Bitcoin as an example of a technology that is “not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity.”
“Yes, we all need to look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement. Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivize distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can’t erode a free and open global internet,” he wrote.
Twitter banned Trump’s personal account two days after a group of the president’s followers stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify the presidential election results. Trump had previously disputed the valid results on Twitter and expressed love for the violent crowd, a violation of the company’s rules. Twitter warned Trump that another rule violation would lead to a permanent ban.
The company ultimately decided that the president’s subsequent tweets could be interpreted by his followers as a call to “replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol,” so it removed his account entirely.