Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter has yet to ban Infowars‘ Alex Jones from its platform, but the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the decision to keep Jones on the platform was one made solely by CEO Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey reportedly overruled his staff on banning Jones, continuing to give him a platform for his views. While other social media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, have banned Jones, Twitter’s inaction was heavily criticized, including by some employees who tweeted their protests.
The inaction on Jones follows an earlier pattern, established in 2016 when white supremacist Richard Spencer was initially banned by the trust and safety team at Twitter, only for Dorsey to step in and insist that Spencer be allowed back on the platform, but only on one account.
Faced with the reports from the Wall Street Journal, Twitter responded by telling WSJ that those reports were false.
“Our service can only operate fairly if it’s run through consistent application of our rules, rather than the personal views of any executive, including our CEO,” said Twitter Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde to the Wall Street Journal.
Regarding Jones, the Huffington Post reports that not only did Dorsey reject the suggestion that Jones be banned from the platform, but even gave him safeguarded access to ensure he could keep tweeting.
The report from the Wall Street Journal comes at an interesting time for Dorsey, who will be facing Congress where he is expected to be asked about election meddling and a perceived censorship bias against conservatives, although the report may well help Dorsey with the latter allegation.
Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
.....Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don’t watch at all..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
Dorsey has already prepared a written testimony, reports CNBC, and will no doubt take a similar message to Congress that Twitter does not ban based on political ideology.
“We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially,” said Dorsey in that testimony. “In fact, from a simple business perspective and to serve the public conversation, Twitter is incentivized to keep all voices on the platform.”
Twitter has done plenty of work ahead of the hearing, ready for an attack from Republicans about censorship of conservative voices. Fox News reports that Twitter’s research found there were 59.5 million Make America Great Again tweets, showing that there were conservative voices on the platform, but acknowledged why there is an appearance of bias in the testimony.
“Democrats on average have more followers per account and have more active followers. As a result, Democratic members in the aggregate receive more impressions or views than Republicans,” said Dorsey’s testimony.