Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Wednesday he thought the company made the right call by permanently barring President Donald Trump’s account after violence broke out on Capitol Hill last week, but it was a decision he isn’t celebrating.
“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 said in a series of tweets.
Still, banning Trump from the platform has consequences and reflects Twitter’s failure to “promote healthy conversation” on its site, he said. The remarks from Dorsey highlight how social media companies are often trying to balance different interests as they face more scrutiny to police offensive content that could incite violence.
Twitter permanently banned Trump’s account on Friday after temporarily locking it for several hours for violating its rules. Despite calls to boot Trump from Twitter in the past, the company has labeled some of the president’s remarks about voter fraud rather than pull them down because of public interest.
Last week, Twitter said two of Trump’s tweets violated its rules against glorifying violence, prompting a permanent ban. In one tweet, Trump said he wouldn’t be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. In the other tweet, Trump said his supporters, whom he called “American Patriots,” will “have a giant long voice into the future” and “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” Considering recent events, Twitter said the two tweets “were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts” that happened at the US Capitol that left five people dead.
The unprecedented move heightened the tensions between Twitter and conservatives who say their speech is being censored by social media sites. Twitter has repeatedly denied those allegations. Other tech companies have either locked Trump’s accounts or banned him from their platforms.was the latest company on Wednesday to permanently ban Trump ahead of the inauguration.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.has criticized social media companies for blocking him, calling the moves “a catastrophic mistake.” “They’re dividing and divisive, and they’re showing something that I’ve been predicting for a long time,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Dorsey, who also promoted the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in his tweets, said banning an account can also set a “dangerous precedent” given the power an individual or company wields over public speech. Amazon, Apple and Google booted Parler, a social network popular among conservatives, from its services last week. Parler is currently offline and it’s unclear if and when the service will come back online.
“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 tweeted. “A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same.”