Trump's Twitter ban right but sets dangerous precedent: Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey, the boss of the micro-blogging website Twitter, has defended his company's decision to block the outgoing United States President Donald Trump from its platform but said that this ban sets a "dangerous precedent." In a series of tweets, the 44-year-old asserted that Trump was given a warning while adding that he wasn't proud of what happened. Here's more.
In the aftermath of the US Capitol riots, Dorsey's Twitter blocked Trump's account, took down "controversial tweets" he posted through the @POTUS handle, and de-platformed accounts of his aides. Twitter argued that Trump's posts posed a threat of violence and gave the message that US elections weren't fair. Three tweets, in which he purportedly supported invaders, were taken down on the day of violence.
Trump, who had 88 million Twitter followers, naturally fumed. He said the platform is not about "freedom of speech." His ban was also decried by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She argued that legislature, and not social media platforms, must interfere with the "fundamental right to freedom of opinion." France concurred with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire revealing that the ban shocked him.
"What shocks me is that it is Twitter that is shutting down Trump's account. The regulation of the digital giants cannot and should not be done by the digital oligarchy itself. It is necessary but it must be done by States and by Justice, (sic)" Maire tweeted.
Breaking his silence now, Dorsey said he isn't celebrating the ban. "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," he wrote. He said the company was facing an unprecedented situation "forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety."
Thereafter, he pointed out that a ban has real and serious 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," he wrote. These actions, the CEO of Twitter explained, divided 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," he penned.
Dorsey then said Twitter is just one small part of the larger conversation happening on the internet. If people don't like Twitter's policies, they are free to choose another service, he underlined. Noting that other "foundational internet tool providers" also removed "what they found dangerous," Dorsey said this was not planned. Companies arrived at their own conclusions or were "emboldened by others," he added.
He went on to explain this is why he is impressed by Bitcoin, as its model is all about internet technology, that is not controlled by a single individual/entity. "This is what the internet wants to be, and over time, more of it will be," he predicted. He then drew attention to 'Blue Sky,' an initiative around an open decentralized standard for social media.
Dorsey highlighted that the ultimate goal is to "disarm as much as we can" and work toward a more peaceful existence on earth. "I believe the internet and global public conversation is our best and most relevant method of achieving this. I also recognize it does not feel that way today," he wrote, adding that every lesson will help to achieve this.
I believe the internet and global public conversation is our best and most relevant method of achieving this. I also recognize 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.— jack (@jack) January 14, 2021
To note, Twitter's ban decision affected its market value. On Monday, the company's stock fell by nearly 12%, implying that $5 billion were wiped from its market capitalization. The stock of Facebook, another platform that took action against Trump, tumbled 4% on Monday, followed by a 2.2% fall. When markets closed on Tuesday, Facebook's market capitalization was $47.6 billion less than its Friday's numbers.