Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter, recently spoke with the media about Donald Trump’s social media suspensions following the Capitol riot.
Dorsey is speaking out for the first time since Twitter and a multitude of other social media platforms permanently suspended the president’s account following the violent riot that occurred at the Capitol last week. Dorsey claimed that the company faced an “extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety.”
“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here, 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,” Dorsey claimed on Wednesday in a Twitter thread. He admitted that while the decision was definitely the right one, it’s only a “fragment of the public conversation” that now needs to be had.
Last week Twitter suspended the president after he posted a video on the platform that incited a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol building, leading to the deaths of 5 individuals including one Capitol police officer. Trump has since been impeached for a second time by the House of Representatives due to “risk of further incitement of violence,” which is the same reason he was banned from so many social media platforms. Dorsey believes, however, that the removal from these figures online will only further divide the nation.
“The removal of the president’s account limits the potential for clarification and sets a dangerous precedent regarding the power a corporation has over a part of the global conversation.”
Facebook, Reddit, Pintrest, and YouTube are among some of the other platforms that have since suspended Trump’s accounts temporarily, and in some cases permanently, after the Capitol riot. Beyond just the president, some platforms all together are facing the same type of suspensions over their contribution, or lack of action, in regard to the Capitol attacks.
Parler, for example, is a social media app that was previously used mainly by far-right conservatives, including both Eric and Donald Trump Jr. The platform was recently banned from Amazon, Google, and Apple’s app stores after the company refused to acknowledge or report the discussions of the Capitol attack that were occuring on the platform weeks before the riot. According to sources there had been over 90 reports of violent and threatening posts that Parler had completely ignored.
Major tech companies have been under fire in general within the past four years for their contribution to the spreading of misinformation. Once the 2020 election was finalized and Trump continued to spew false accusations of a fraudulent election online, which only further fueled the fire of his angry supporters, apps like Twitter and Facebook were receiving a ton of backlash for their lack of action in removing such harmful rhetoric about our democracy.
“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.”
For Twitter specifically in 2020, the platform began flagging tweets from Trump, and anyone else, that was spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic or 2020 Election. Practically every tweet that came from Trump’s account after Election Day was about how he actually won the election and this was one of the most corrupt elections in US history, prompting his entire profile to practically be flagged.
After the tenth or so flagged tweet from the president of the US, many began calling out Dorsey for allowing him to continue to insult our democracy and spread such harmful information; especially considering he has over 70 million supporters who fully believe everything the president is saying, as we saw last week.
During the riot itself Trump released a video in which he told all the domestic terrorists that were in the middle of violently vandalizing the Capitol building that he “loved them” but to stay safe and go home. His account was immediately put under a temporary suspension, and after he refused to delete the tweets that put him there, he received a permanent suspension.
Twitter justified its actions by claiming that the “tweets from Trump could easily be interpreted as encouragement or justification to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6th 2021.” Now the conversation has become much larger in terms of how much power these individuals in government should have when it comes to social media. As we’ve seen, it only takes a few months of tweeting about a fraudulent election to inspire a riot on federal property, so it’s definitely a conversation that needs to be had.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.