James ClaytonBBC, North American Tech Reporter
Image source, Getty ImagesRELATED
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, said he did not celebrate or take pride in the ban against Trump.
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said Wednesday that shutting down US President Donald Trump’s account was the right thing to do, though he also noted that it sets a “dangerous precedent.”
Dorsey expressed sadness at what he described as the “extraordinary and unsustainable circumstances” surrounding Trump’s Twitter suspension.
He also said the ban was in part a failure of Twitter, which had not done enough to encourage “healthy conversation” on its platforms.
Twitter has been praised and criticized for terminating Trump’s account last Friday, a couple of days after Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Trump’s critics point to him as the instigator of the assault on the headquarters of the US Congress and this Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved an “impeachment” against him – the second in his administration – for “incitement to insurrection.” Now, the president will face impeachment in the Senate.
German leader Angela Merkel and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke out against the Twitter measure.
In a lengthy Twitter thread posted Wednesday night, Dorsey said he did not celebrate or take pride in the ban against Trump.
Dorsey reiterated that removing the president from Twitter was done after sending him “a clear warning.”
“We made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical security both on and off Twitter,” said Dorsey.
“Off-line damage as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and it is what primarily drives our policy,” he wrote.
But he also accepted that the measure would have consequences for an open and free internet.
“Having to take these actions fragments the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption and learning. And it sets a precedent that I believe is dangerous: the power that an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation. “, he pointed.
“This moment in time may require this dynamic, but in the long run it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet,” he opined.
Dorsey also addressed criticism that only a handful of tech entrepreneurs can make decisions about who has and who has no voice on the internet, and about censorship accusations.
“A company that makes the decision to moderate itself is different from a government that takes away (someone’s) access, but it can feel almost the same,” Dorsey said.
Ban on other networks
Some have criticized the social media decision to remove accounts, posts, and tweets for violating First Amendment rights (freedom of speech) to the US Constitution.
However, large technology firms often argue that being private companies and not state actors, this law does not apply when they moderate their platforms.
Facebook and YouTube also took steps to temporarily silence the president, while Amazon closed Parler’s account (an app widely used by Trump supporters) on Amazon Web Services, its cloud data storage and processing service.
Image source, Reuters
Twitter canceled Trump’s account last Friday, a couple of days after Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Snapchat also announced that Trump will be permanently banned from its platform.
This network had already suspended him indefinitely, but on Wednesday said that “in the interest of public safety and based on his attempts to spread disinformation, incite hatred and incite violence” it will permanently cancel his account.
On Monday, the German chancellor’s spokeswoman said she found the ban on social media “problematic”. The Mexican president said: “I don’t like that nobody is censored.”
US President-elect Joe Biden has said he wants companies like Facebook and Twitter to take more steps to end hate speech and fake news.
Biden had previously said he wants to repeal Section 230, a law that protects social media from being sued for the things people post on their platforms.
It’s unclear how Biden wants to regulate big tech, though doing so is likely to be one of his legislative goals.
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