With great power comes great responsibility and difficult decisions to make. Twitter founder and boss Jack Dorsey believes the decision to ban Donald Trump from the platform was ” the maid “, but nevertheless constitutes a “Failure” and “Sets a precedent”, which seems to him “Dangerous” compared to the power held by big companies.
“I don’t feel any pride that we had to ban @realDonaldTrump”, he tweeted Wednesday January 13th, in a series of messages in which he returns to the decision of the social network to indefinitely ban the outgoing president of the United States for having encouraged the violence of the Capitol. It’s a “Failure on our part to promote healthy conversation”, and this kind of measures “Divides us. They limit the possibilities of explaining, of redeeming oneself, of learning ”, he continued.
Twitter was the Republican billionaire’s main communication tool, who used it on a daily basis to directly address his 88 million subscribers. He was also suspended from Facebook, Twitch, and, since Tuesday, YouTube for a week. Google’s video platform was facing increasing pressure from associations and personalities. Snapchat also announced that Donald Trump’s already suspended account would be banned on January 20, the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration.
A decision criticized
But the tweet network’s decision is by far the most iconic. The ostracization of the head of state has been welcomed by many elected officials, but it has also drawn criticism from associations and leaders, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, concerned about the power of technology companies.
“It sets a precedent that I think is dangerous: the power that an individual or company has over part of the global public conversation.”, admits Dorsey in this introspective monologue. He emphasizes that the balance of power was respected as long as “People could just go to another service, if our rules and our rule application did not suit them”.
But “This concept was challenged last week when a number of essential internet tool providers also decided not to host what they found dangerous”, he admits. “I don’t think it was coordinated. More likely: Companies have come to their own conclusions or have been encouraged by the actions of others. “
In addition to its flagship measure, Twitter deleted this weekend 70,000 accounts affiliated with QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiratorial movement, involved in the invasion of the Capitol which disrupted the certification ceremony of Joe Biden’s victory on Wednesday January 6.
When Donald Trump tried Friday to respond to the suspension of his personal account by the official POTUS account (President of the United States), for the attention of “75 million patriots” who voted for him, his messages were immediately removed by the social network. “Using another account to avoid suspension is against our rules”, then explained a spokesperson for the company.
Facebook has for its part undertaken to remove all messages related to the slogan “Stop the steal” (Stop election theft), rumored by the president and his fans for months. Google and Apple have excluded the social network Parler from their application download platforms. Amazon has driven the point home by ousting the conservative network, popular with Donald Trump’s supporters, from its servers, which is tantamount to driving it out of the Internet for the moment.
All these tech giants invoked the risks of further violence during the opening week. American authorities fear overflows, to the point that the accommodation reservation platform Airbnb on Wednesday canceled all reservations scheduled in Washington next week.
Jack Dorsey’s remarks come against a backdrop of annoyance, even anger, on the part of American elected officials on both sides. They blame Twitter and its neighbors in Silicon Valley for their omnipotence, both in terms of economic competition and in terms of data and public debate. “Yes, we need to take a critical look at the inconsistencies in our rules. Yes, we need to look at how our service can create distraction and do harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation of content ”, nevertheless asserted Jack Dorsey, in the interest of a “Free, open and global Internet”.