Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Addresses Banning Donald Trump From The Platform

President Donald Trump Holds Press Briefing

“A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same.”

Yesterday, Donald John Trump became the first President of the United States to be impeached twice. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 to approve an article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” against the U.S. government.

Ten House Republicans voted against their own party leader and aligned with the Democrats in order to hold the lame-duck President responsible for inciting a mob of MAGA supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Five people died during the failed January 6 coup attempt to overturn President-Elect Joe Biden’s election victory, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer.

Unlike with his first impeachment in 2019-2020, Trump was not able to use Twitter to rage-tweet about the proceedings or spread false conspiracy theories to his millions of followers. Twitter, along with many other social media companies, banned the president from its platform after the 1/6 Capitol Insurrection.

The de-platforming of Trump led to debates about free speech online and inconsistent enforcement of Twitter’s terms of service violations. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addressed why his private business decided to remove the sitting POTUS from the service. In a series of tweets, the 44-year-old billionaire technology entrepreneur laid out an explanation for the unprecedented move and his vision of achieving an “open internet.”

Dorsey tweeted:

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? 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. That said, 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. 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. The check and accountability on this power has always been the fact that a service like Twitter is one small part of the larger public conversation happening across the internet. If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service. This concept was challenged last week when a number of foundational internet tool providers also decided not to host what they found dangerous. I do not believe this was coordinated. More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others. 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. Yes, we all need to look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement. Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivize distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can’t erode a free and open global internet. 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. We are trying to do our part by funding an initiative around an open decentralized standard for social media. Our goal is to be a client of that standard for the public conversation layer of the internet. We call it @bluesky. This will take time to build. We are in the process of interviewing and hiring folks, looking at both starting a standard from scratch or contributing to something that already exists. No matter the ultimate direction, we will do this work completely through public transparency. It’s important that we acknowledge this is a time of great uncertainty and struggle for so many around the world. Our goal in this moment is to disarm as much as we can, and ensure we are all building towards a greater common understanding, and 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. Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together.