In a widely shared social media thread, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday stood by last week’s decision to ban President Trump from his company’s platform, saying it was something he does not “celebrate or feel pride in,” but something that was decided “based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter.”
Twitter permanently banned Mr. Trump’s account on Saturday because of “the risk of further incitement of violence” in the wake of the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.
Dorsey said it was “the right decision” in his post Wednesday.
“We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety,” he said. “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”
However, Dorsey said, banning accounts “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 … 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 also said that Twitter is just a small part of a larger conversation across the internet.
Dorsey said that if people do not agree with a platform’s rules and the enforcement of those rules then “they can simply go to another service.” But that ability is limited when events unfold as they did last week, when multiple social media sites, seemingly uncoordinated, censored Mr. Trump and others who allegedly incited violence in Washington, D.C.
“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,” Dorsey said. “A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same.”
In efforts to help combat this, Dorsey said he is working on a platform that can serve as “a foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity.”
For the time being, however, he said global public conversation is the “best and most relevant” solution.
“Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together.”
Mr. Trump addressed social media censorship on Wednesday in his first video message after the House impeached him on one count of incitement of insurrection for “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States” on January 6.
After condemning last week’s riots at the Capitol — without taking ownership for any of the incitement that he has been impeached for — Mr. Trump talked about the “unprecedented assault on free speech we have seen in recent days.”
Shortly after the riots, Twitter permanently suspended Mr. Trump’s personal account, and Facebook suspended his account for the rest of his presidency. On Tuesday, YouTube temporarily banned Mr. Trump from uploading new content.
Meanwhile, “free speech” platform Parler was suspended from the Apple and Google app stores, and eventually shut down by Amazon Web Services, for its failure to moderate content that incited violence. Several posts showed Trump supporters calling on others to partake in a “million militia march” on January 20, and for “patriots” to take their weapons to Washington.
Many individuals called for a second civil war because Mr. Trump lost the election.
“These are tense and difficult times. The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong, and they are dangerous,” Mr. Trump said in the video, which was posted on the White House Twitter account. “What is needed now is for us to listen to one another, not to silence one another. All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the ranker and find common ground and shared purpose.”