Twitter deleted US President Trump’s account last week, citing a risk of violence after his supporters stormed the Capitol.
Twitter Inc chief executive Jack Dorsey said banning US President Donald Trump from his social media platform after last week’s violence at the US Capitol was the “right move”, but said that it set a dangerous precedent.
Last week, San Francisco-based Twitter deleted Trump’s account, which had 88 million followers, citing the risk of further violence after supporters of the president took over the Capitol.
“Having to take these steps fragments the public conversation,” Dorsey said on Twitter. “They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption and learning. And sets a precedent that seems dangerous to me: the power that an individual or a company has over part of the global public conversation.
The ban drew criticism from some Republicans who said it suppressed the president’s right to free speech. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also warned through a spokeswoman that lawmakers, not private companies, should decide on any restrictions on free speech.
In his Twitter feed, Dorsey said that while he was not proud of the ban, “the offline harm resulting from online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all else.”
I don’t celebrate or pride myself on having to ban @realDonaldTrump of Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning that we were going to take this action, we made a decision with the best information available to us based on physical security threats both on and off Twitter. Was that correct?
—jack (@jack) January 14, 2021
Even so, he added, “While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I think a ban is ultimately a failure on our part to promote healthy conversation.”
Twitter has introduced a series of measures over the past year such as labels, disclaimers and distribution restrictions to reduce the need for decisions about removing content from the service altogether.
Dorsey said he believes these measures can foster more fruitful or “healthy” online conversations and lessen the effects of bad behavior.
The Twitter CEO added that bans by Trump’s social media companies after last week’s violence were emboldened by everyone’s actions, even if they were uncoordinated. But in the long run, the set of precedents “will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet,” he said.
Trump supporters, who have repeatedly made baseless claims challenging Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November election, stormed the US Capitol on January 6, trying to block Congress’ certification of the Biden Electoral College victory.
On Wednesday, Trump became the first president in US history to be impeached twice.