Posted on August 16, 2018

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Explains What Got Alex Jones Suspended

Harper Neidig, The Hill, August 15, 2018

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey isn’t sure if the timeout given to Alex Jones will convince the right-wing conspiracy theorist to “reconsider” his social media behavior.

But Dorsey, in an interview with The Hill the morning after his company handed down a seven-day suspension to Jones, says its enforcement actions are intended to promote better behavior from its users.

“We’re always trying to cultivate more of a learning mindset and help guide people back towards healthier behaviors and healthier public conversation,” the 41-year-old co-founder of Twitter said.


He’s doing outreach amid stark criticism that Twitter has been too soft on Jones, the InfoWars owner who has suggested the Sandy Hook shooting of school children was staged — and that Twitter’s content and behavior rules are unclear.

{snip} Twitter argued Jones had not actually violated its content policies until a Tuesday tweet linking to a Periscope video in which he urged his followers to take up “battle rifles” in the crusade against censorship.


For seven days, Jones’ account will essentially be restricted to reading tweets and sending direct messages to his followers.


Dorsey said Twitter constantly has to look at what it is doing to improve its platform — which has a reputation for hosting unbridled speech.


Dorsey had come under criticism himself for a series of tweets in which he explained Jones had not been initially suspended because he had not broken the company’s content policies.

CNN then presented Twitter with examples of tweets from Jones that appeared to violate their rules, and the company conceded that two of them were recent enough for the social network to have taken action.

Twitter told Jones to delete at least one of the offending posts, all of which later disappeared from the accounts.

Dorsey told The Hill that Twitter decided not to take action over the earlier tweets because they hadn’t been flagged at the time.

“Today, a lot of our enforcement actions are based on reports of violations,” Dorsey said. “We didn’t get those reports of violations [on the past tweets]. The other thing is we don’t apply our policies retroactively.”


“Our model right now relies heavily on people reporting violations and reporting things they find suspicious and then we can act on it,” he said. “But ultimately we want to take that reporting burden off the individual and automate a lot more of this.”

Some of those efforts backfired last month after some high-profile Republicans accused Twitter of “shadow-banning” their accounts by restricting users’ ability to find them through the search function. Twitter denies that it was targeting conservatives and says that the incident was an error resulting from their efforts to down-rank certain behaviors on the platform.

{snip} “We want to be clear that we do not shadow-ban according to political ideology or viewpoint. We do rank the timeline and we do that with the principle of relevance, but all the content is still there — you just have to do more work to see it.”


[Editor’s Note: The original article is accompanied by a video that discusses the FCC’s shutting down of Alex Jones’s flagship radio station.]