The Wall Street Journal published an article recently outlining the efforts Twitter has made to crack down on “bad actors” on its platform, including the personal involvement of CEO Jack Dorsey in deciding who gets blacklisted.
An article published in the Wall Street Journal titled “Inside Twitter’s Long, Slow Struggle to Police Bad Actors,” outlines how Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey personally stepped in to make decisions on the banning of high-profile accounts, regularly frustrating Twitter employees. The article states that Twitter primarily relies on reports from users to police their platform and decisions on whether to ban accounts are then made by reviewing a consistent set of policies relating to the platform’s rules.
It is also expected that the House Commerce Committee will question Dorsey on the silencing of conservative voices on Twitter. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), stated that the hearing “is about pulling back the curtain on Twitter’s algorithms, how the company makes decisions about content, and how those decisions impact Americans.”
The article states:
Last month, after Twitter’s controversial decision to allow conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to remain on its platform, Mr. Dorsey told one person that he had overruled a decision by his staff to kick Mr. Jones off, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Twitter disputes that account and says Mr. Dorsey wasn’t involved in those discussions.
Twitter’s initial inaction on Mr. Jones, after several other major tech companies banned or limited his content, drew fierce backlash from the public and Twitter’s own employees, some of whom tweeted in protest.
A similar chain of events unfolded in November 2016, when the firm’s trust and safety team kicked alt-right provocateur Richard Spencer off the platform, saying he was operating too many accounts. Mr. Dorsey, who wasn’t involved in the initial discussions, told his team that Mr. Spencer should be allowed to keep one account and stay on the site, according to a person directly involved in the discussions.
Twitter stated that Dorsey does not overrule Twitter staff on content issues and declined to make Dorsey available for a personal comment:
“Any suggestion that Jack made or overruled any of these decisions is completely and totally false,” Twitter’s chief legal officer, Vijaya Gadde, said in a statement. “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.”
In the coming weeks, the company plans to start showing users a picture of a tombstone in the place of a tweet that has been taken down as a way to signal that a user has violated a company policy, rather than a notice saying the tweet is unavailable. That step, which hasn’t been reported, is among a number of policy changes Twitter plans to make in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Dorsey has frequently promised that the company will do better in policing content. “We moved too slow. We are fixing,” Mr. Dorsey tweeted at one user in January 2017.
In October of that year, he tweeted: “We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them.” And then last month: “Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that.”
Read the full article here.