Twitter and Facebook have been receiving both bouquets and brickbats for their decisions to ban US President Donald Trump from their platforms over the January 6 violence at the Capitol. Multiple figures, from heads of government to internet freedom activists, have criticised the bans as an assault on freedom of expression.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday evening (US time) tweeted his thoughts on the issue of banning Trump. Dorsey noted "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?"
Adopting a conflicted tone, Dorsey argued the decision to ban Trump was "right", but conceded it had "real and significant ramifications."
Dorsey wrote, "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."
Dorsey also felt the ban was a "failure" of Twitter to "promote healthy conversation". Dorsey wrote, "... having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications. 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."
Referring to the impact of the action against Trump, Dorsey wrote, "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 alluded to allegations the move to ban Trump by multiple social media platforms was coordinated. "... I do not believe this was coordinated. More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others," Dorsey argued.
Dorsey acknowledged such bans "will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet". He wrote, "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."
Dorsey reiterated his commitment to a "foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity”.
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He wrote, "The reason I have so much passion for #Bitcoin is largely because of the model it demonstrates: 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."
Dorsey also referred to the 'Blue Sky' initiative, which he had called "an open and decentralized standard for social media" in December 2019.