Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admits that the company’s decision to ban President Trump underscores the failure of US social media to improve society. “I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation,” Dorsey wrote in a Wednesday tweet thread.
“Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. They divide us,” he added. “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.”
The ban has sparked plenty of controversy. Conservatives claim Silicon Valley companies are out to suppress free speech. Meanwhile, liberal critics are blasting the same companies for acting too little too late to stop the extremism and calls for violence on their platforms.
Dorsey said he took no pleasure in banning Trump from Twitter, but said the decision was necessary, citing the riot that erupted at the US Capitol last week. As a result, the company banned Trump’s account over fears his future tweets might incite more violence. “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” Dorsey wrote. “That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications.”
Although Twitter is but one platform, all the major sites and services—including Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat—have also restricted Trump’s social media accounts. Dorsey denies the removals were coordinated. Nevertheless, he worries the crackdown “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 added.
Dorsey had no immediate answers on how his company can fix social media. But he did point to his work toward decentralizing the technology behind Twitter, which could one day enable other organizations and companies to run a sphere of the Twitterverse.
In the short-term, Dorsey said his company is focused on safety amid fears more violence will break out next week during Joe Biden’s inauguration as the new US president. “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,” he added.