Twitter said it is standing by its decision not to ban accounts associated with right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, despite “outside pressure” for it to ban his content.
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The CEO and co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, explained the company’s decision in a series of tweets on Tuesday night, noting that Jones, owner of the InfoWars website, hadn’t violated any of its rules.
“We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does,” he said. “If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.”
Twitter has been under fire from users since Sunday, when Apple said it removed podcasts produced by Jones from its streaming platform, citing “hate speech.” Facebook, YouTube and Spotify followed suit with restrictions of their own this week.
Dorsey said he understood why people were upset with the decision, but he said censorship isn’t the answer. He also encouraged journalists to “refute” false information.
“Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors,” Dorsey said, “so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.”
We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.
— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
Dorsey appeared to take a swipe at the tech platforms that banned Jones and said Twitter refused to take “one-off actions to make us feel good” or make decisions that could ultimately fuel “new conspiracy theories.”
“Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that,” Dorsey said. “We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.”
Facebook suspended Jones’ account for 30 days on Monday due to repeated violations, includings posts that it said glorified violence and dehumanized others.
“We have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies,” Facebook said.
YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, issued a similar statement, saying Jones’ accounts had violated its “policies against hate speech and harassment,” but Jones claimed his statements are protected by free speech.
“What conservative news outlet will be next? The one platform that they CAN’T ban and will ALWAYS have our live streams is infowars.com/show,” Jones, who has more than 850,000 Twitter followers, tweeted Monday.
“#Infowars has been banned on so many platforms, but people are still finding ways to get the truth,” he added in subsequent tweet.