Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey claimed in an interview this week that it was a “joke” when the social network described itself as the “free-speech wing of the free-speech party.”
Former Twitter vice president Tony Wang made the statement in 2012, declaring, “Generally, we remain neutral as to the content because our general counsel and CEO like to say that we are the free speech wing of the free speech party.”
In an interview with Wired this week, however, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reversed on Wang’s old statement, claiming it had been a “joke.”
“I think Vijaya [Gadde]’s op-ed in the Washington Post captures our position—our most evolved position—the best. And that is around this balance of people feeling safe to express themselves,” expressed Dorsey. “But certainly, this quote around ‘free-speech wing of the free-speech party’ was never a mission of the company. It was never a descriptor of the company that we gave ourselves. It was a joke, because of how people found themselves in the spectrum.”
The interviewer then responded to Dorsey, declaring, “But it was a joke that people took seriously and their respect for you increased because of it at the time.”
“Well, yeah, I don’t think it takes away from our defense of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. But we were not absolute absolutists,” Dorsey replied. “A lot of people come to Twitter and they don’t actually see an app or a service, they see what kind of looks like a public square. And they have the same sort of expectations of a public square. And that is what we have to make sure that we get right. And also, make sure that everyone feels safe to participate in that public square.”
Last year, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams claimed he was “wrong” about his previous beliefs that freedom of speech would make the world a better place.
“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place… I was wrong about that,” proclaimed Williams, before apologizing for co-founding a company which allowed President Trump to speak freely during the 2016 presidential election.
In 2017, Twitter’s Vice President of Public Policy and Communications also announced it was “no longer possible to stand up for all speech.”