Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey thinks the company’s “protocol” for politicians who seem to violate the site’s rules is clear. So clear, in fact, that he refused to say if Twitter would ban the US president should he explicitly ask his followers to do a bunch of murders.
In a new interview, Huffington Post reporter (and former Gizmodo writer) Ashley Feinberg asked Dorsey point-blank if Twitter would ban Donald Trump if he “tweeted out asking each of his followers to murder one journalist”. An easy one, you’d think. But, of course, you aren’t Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey:
[Dorsey:] That would be a violent threat. We’d definitely … You know we’re in constant communication with all governments around the world. So we’d certainly talk about it.
[Feinberg:] OK, but if he did that, would that be grounds to —
[Dorsey:] I’m not going to talk about particulars. We’ve established protocol, it’s transparent. It’s out there for everyone to read. We have, independent of the U.S. president, we have conversations with all governments. It’s not just limited to this one.
So would they ban Trump? The answer seems to come down to your personal reading of Twitter’s various statements about “political figures” and “newsworthiness”. In any case, they would for sure “talk about it”!
Responding to a Trump tweet that threatened military action in September of 2017, for instance, Twitter said it considers factors such as “newsworthiness” when deciding if a tweet violates its rules.
Then, in December of that year, Twitter announced that its rules about promoting violence don’t apply to “military or government entities”.
In January of 2018, the company then said that it reviews tweets by world leaders “within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly”.
Finally, last September, Twitter’s legal chief clarified in an interview with Politico that the “newsworthiness” consideration “is not a blanket exception for the president or anyone else”.
Lacking the skills of perception Dorsey apparently expects of reporters, we reached out to Twitter, asking if it would ban Trump should he call for the murder of 57 million journalists. We had not received a response at time of writing.