5 Lingering Twitter Questions That Jack Dorsey Dodged on His Recent Media Blitz

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Twitter chief Jack Dorsey just went on a multi-week media blitz — and we’re still left searching for answers to the biggest questions facing his company.

It’s not like the questions weren’t asked. In several recent interviews — including conversations with Huffington Post, Recode’s Kara Swisher, and major podcasters like Joe Rogan and Bill Simmons — Dorsey had multiple chances to address topics that have become synonymous with Twitter in the last year: inconsistent banning policies; capricious enforcement of its rules; political favoritism; widespread harassment; doxxing.

If the point of the PR push was to have Dorsey come across as a nice guy, then mission accomplished. But his long-winded, circuitous replies offered little insight. This was a failed opportunity for Dorsey to clearly articulate Twitter policies that are often arcane — and seemingly fluid. Instead, his verbose answers allowed him to dodge the most difficult questions like prime Floyd Mayweather deftly avoiding punches.

Also Read: Alec Baldwin Asks if Trump Twitter Rant ‘Constitutes a Threat’ to His Family’s Safety

Consider his answers to the following questions:

1. Twitter’s perceived political bias

Sam Harris, on his Making Sense podcast, pressed Dorsey on the “pervasive sense” Twitter is “biased politically” in favor of left-leaning causes. For many centrists and right-of-center users, the prevailing belief is that “Twitter reliably lands on one side of the divide” when it comes to ruling on race, gender and other hot-button topics, Harris said.

Harris cited the example of feminist writer Meghan Murphy — who was banned by Twitter in November after posting several tweets related to trans issues, including “men aren’t women” and “how are transwomen not men?” — suggesting that she was targeted because she was not “sufficiently woke.”

Dorsey didn’t have much of a response. “I don’t believe we can afford to take a neutral stance anymore,” Dorsey said — without offering details on the stances the company should be taking.


Also Read: Fox News Site Pulls Ann Coulter Post Calling for Meghan McCain’s Murder

2. Twitter’s inconsistent rules enforcement 

Dorsey also didn’t add much clarity to why Twitter bans certain voices. Harris pointed to right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos getting the boot, while Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who recently compared Jews to termites, is allowed to stay. The latter seemed to clearly violate Twitter’s Hateful Conduct Policy, which prohibits “the dehumanization of a group of people based on their religion.” Dorsey couldn’t explain the disconnect.

And when asked by Joe Rogan on his podcast why digital shock jock Alex Jones was banned last summer, Dorsey simply said he was “not sure.”

This was a frequent response — Dorsey not knowing the “exact specifics” of Twitter’s policies, like when it comes to “deadnaming,” or using a trans person’s previous name. (A Twitter spokesperson later clarified to TheWrap that “targeting someone because of their gender identity has always been a violation.”)

Most glaringly, Twitter’s erratic enforcement undercuts Dorsey’s “No. 1 concern,” which he told YouTuber Gad Saad was “what we are doing to protect physical safety.” At the same time, it gives ammo to his critics.

Also Read: Twitter Finally Reports Daily User Base, Posts Strong Q4 Revenue Growth

As Harris later noted in his own appearance on Rogan’s podcast, if safety were truly Twitter’s main priority, Twitter would have punished Kathy Griffin last month when she called for the identities of the Kentucky Catholic high school students seen in a widely circulated video faceoff with a Native American elder in Washington, D.C.

“Name these kids,” Griffin tweeted. “I want NAMES. Shame them. If you think these f—ers wouldn’t dox you in a heartbeat, think again.” Griffin’s tweet, at minimum, called for her followers to violate Twitter’s privacy rules.

Let’s be clear hear: It’s unrealistic for Dorsey, as the head not only of Twitter but also of Square, to know the rationale behind every policy decision about a user who is or isn’t banned.

Still, by granting these interviews, Dorsey had to know he’d be asked about Twitter’s seemingly inconsistent bans and rules enforcement. Conservatives and free speech absolutists have been crying foul after several right-wing voices have been kicked off Twitter in the last year. The goalposts, they argue, appear to shift based on the political affiliation of the transgressor. By not having concrete reasons for why some provocative voices have been punished and not others, Dorsey did little to extinguish one of the biggest complaints against Twitter.

Also Read: Demi Lovato Drops Twitter After Users Blast Her as a ‘Junkie,’ ‘Crackhead,’ for 21 Savage Meme

3. Twitter’s harassment issues 

Conversely, Twitter has been skewered by many on the left for its inability to curb harassment. On his popular podcast, Bill Simmons asked Dorsey when Twitter would fix its troll issue. Dorsey said there isn’t “one single fix” to the problem, but that “it’s going to be a constant evolution.”

Twitter has rolled out updates in the last year aiming to silence trolls, including bumping what it considers obnoxious tweets to the bottom of reply threads. How the company determines which tweets are bumped is unclear, however, aside from Twitter saying it ranks tweets based on several factors, including whether the user recently opened many new accounts or regularly tweets about users who don’t follow them back. This has been part of Twitter’s renewed focus on the “health” of conversations on its platform — something Dorsey mentioned several times during his media tour.

But he didn’t have much to say on future steps Twitter might take to combat harassment. Rather, the biggest takeaway from his interviews is that Twitter wants to move towards a more “proactive” system, powered by machine learning, that spots abuse, rather than depending on users to report harassment themselves.

“I will say that we don’t feel great about the state that we’re in,” Dorsey told Simmons. “Our entire harassment and abuse framework is dependent upon people reporting harassment and abuse, and it’s completely unfair that the victim of the abuse and harassment has to report it themselves.”

Dorsey echoed the same line when he told Recode’s Kara Swisher last week that it’s a “huge fail” Twitter puts the “burden” on users to report abuse.

“Well, that is like telling me I am sick and am responsible for fixing it,” Swisher responded. “YOU made the product, YOU run the platform. Saying it is a huge fail is a cop out to many. It is to me.”

Also Read: Twitter Suspends Account That Spread Selective Video of Covington Students and Native American Elder

4. President Trump

Whether you’re for or against the president, nothing highlights Twitter — and Dorsey’s — confusing standards better than Donald Trump.

Dorsey told the Huffington Post he believes it’s vital to know “how global leaders think and how they act.” He reiterated this line in several of his interviews. That stance apparently gives the president carte blanche to tweet however he wants. Dorsey said it’s important to understand the “context” in which Trump is tweeting, even when he’s using Twitter to threaten North Korea with nuclear annihilation. (Twitter’s rules bar users from making “specific threats of violence” or wishing “for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people.”)

“It was the context that presidents of this country have used similar language on different mediums,” Dorsey told Rogan. “They say it on radio, they say it on television. If you were to look at President Obama, it wasn’t the exact same tone, but there were threats surrounding the same country. We have to take that context into consideration.”

At what point would Twitter consider removing the president? When asked by HuffPost if threatening to murder a journalist would do the trick, Dorsey nearly gave a definitive answer, before catching himself.

“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,” Dorsey said.

As Harris told Dorsey: “If you’re worried about the health of political conversation in particular, it’s hard to point to anyone whose had a worse influence on the nature of our conversation there [than Trump].”

That irony appeared lost on Dorsey, who only exacerbated the notion Twitter is picking and choosing when its rules apply.

Also Read: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Surpasses Nancy Pelosi in Twitter Followers

5. Twitter’s own transparency

One of the chief complaints against Twitter, and several of its Silicon Valley social-media peers, is that it’s too secretive. The company only reveals something about itself when it’s convenient, rather than when its investors or users are interested in finding out.

This might be changing, if only slightly, with Twitter reporting its daily active user count for the first time ever earlier this month.

Still, the company has a long way to go before achieving glasnost. Its rules regarding users remain obscure, appear to be selectively applied and seem to change on a whim. And despite spending weeks avoiding clear answers to Twitter’s biggest questions, Dorsey seems to understand the company’s messaging shortcomings as much as anyone.

“We should be a lot more transparent about the ‘why’ behind [Twitter’s decisions],” Dorsey told Saad. “And we’re just not there yet.”

When Twitter does get there, it’ll make Dorsey’s next media blitz much more enlightening.

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Alex Jones’ InfoWars Channel Hits Roku Months After YouTube Ban

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Alex Jones’ InfoWars channel is now available on Roku, several months after the digital shock jock was dropped by virtually every major tech platform.

The InfoWars channel, shortly after going live on Roku on Monday, quickly grabbed the attention of Jones’ detractors, with many threatening to drop Roku altogether if it keeps the notorious conspiracy theorist on its service.

Why are you airing Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories? Most platforms have dropped him and he and his fans harass Sandy Hook parents

— JP (@James_Petitious) January 15, 2019

Hey @Roku @RokuPlayer Why don’t you google Alex Jones & Sandy Hook… go ahead, I’ll wait… see it? Is this what you want to promote on your service? This is not free speech, this is hate speech and propaganda, designed for self aggrandizement and division #Shame

— Spike Fx (@spikeselby) January 15, 2019

I’m glad I found out @Roku is giving Alex Jones a platform for his hate and lies BEFORE I bought a Roku-enabled 4K TV so I can look for a different brand. I’ll also be throwing out the Roku box we have already. #ditchroku

— Neal Babcock (@NealBabcock) January 15, 2019

@Roku @RokuSupport I’ve been a user for many years and have owned several generations of Rokus, but I’m gonna switch to Amazon Fire now that you’ve given Alex Jones a platform to continue attacking the victims of mass gun violence.

— Nate Igor Smith (@drivenbyboredom) January 15, 2019

Also Read: Alex Jones Is Back Live-Streaming on Twitter Immediately After ‘Permanent’ Suspension

Roku, in a statement to TheWrap, said the platform “allows our customers to choose from thousands of entertainment, news and special interest channels, representing a wide range of topics and viewpoints.”

“Customers choose and control which channels they download or watch, and parents can set a pin to prevent channels from being downloaded,” the statement continued. “While the vast majority of all streaming on our platform is mainstream entertainment, voices on all sides of an issue or cause are free to operate a channel.  We do not curate or censor based on viewpoint.”

Roku added it is not “promoting or being paid to distribute” InfoWars content.

Jones is known for pushing several wild and unsupported claims, including a warning last summer that Democrats were plotting to start a second Civil War on the Fourth of July. Perhaps most infamously, Jones called the Sandy Hook school shooting a “hoax” — a claim he is now being sued for by several of the victims’ families.

Attorney Josh Koskoff, who is representing several Sandy Hook families against Jones, told TheWrap Roku adding InfoWars is an “insult to the memory of the 26 children and educators killed at Sandy Hook.”

Jones’ appearance on Roku stands out, considering he was exiled by several Silicon Valley stalwarts last year. Facebook and Google-owned YouTube pulled his InfoWars pages down in August. Spotify removed his podcast at the same time. Twitter followed suit in September, banning Jones for violating its policy against “abusive behavior,” after he badgered CNN reporter Oliver Darcy. The InfoWars app was also kicked off Apple’s App Store that same month.

Also Read: Twitter Deletes 18 Accounts Tied to Alex Jones, InfoWars

In a statement to TheWrap in August, Jones accused China and George Soros of being behind the effort to silence him.

“China pulls the strings of big tech now. Choose a side. Soros is proud of you,” Jones said via text, which also included a Chinese flag emoji.

Despite Jones’ claims he’d thrive following his banishment, InfoWars was hit hard, with traffic plummeting to the site in the weeks after his removal.

Also Read: Sandy Hook Father Accuses Alex Jones of Destroying Evidence in New Motion

Jones’ erasure from every major tech platform was championed by many of his critics, who blasted him for spreading hateful rhetoric and misinformation. Others argued that censoring Jones, no matter how absurd his claims, set a bad precedent. “It’s a really big deal to censor content or kick someone off your platform,” Geoffrey King, professor of media studies at UC Berkeley, told TheWrap in August. “It’s a decision they have the power to make, but it’s not one they should be undertaking lightly, to say the least.”

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‘Green Book’ Writer Deletes Twitter Account After Muslim 9/11 Tweet Surfaces

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Green Book” writer and producer Nick Vallelonga has deleted his Twitter account after one of his old social media posts from 2015, in which he seemed to back Donald Trump’s claim that New Jersey Muslims cheered on 9/11, resurfaced online.

In November 2015, Trump made headlines after the then-presidential candidate said without evidence that he “watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

Vallelonga replied to Trump, “100% correct. Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news.”

Also Read: ‘Green Book’ Star Mahershala Ali Apologizes to His Character’s Family After They Call Film ‘Symphony of Lies’

Reps for Vallelonga did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. But a publicist for the writer told IndieWire: “The twitter account has been deleted… not sure if any comment is actually needed here.”

The resurfaced tweet comes just days after “Green Book” took home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy on Sunday. But Wednesday was a bad day for “Green Book” all around: The film’s director, Peter Farrelly, apologized for repeatedly flashing his penis two decades ago in an attempt to be funny.

Universal did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Also Read: Inside ‘Green Book’: Read Tony Lip’s Real Letters From the Road Tour With Donald Shirley

In November 2015, Trump told ABC’s “This Week” that “there were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something.”

Weeks later, Trump doubled down on his story, telling Alex Jones’ “InfoWars” that he heard from “four or five” supporters after making the claim who said, “‘Mr. Trump, I saw it myself! I was there!’”

But Trump’s version of events was challenged by major news outlets, including The New Yorker and The Washington Post, which, after trying to fact-check the story, concluded: “This is a bit like writing about the hole in the doughnut — how can you write about nothing?”

Also Read: ‘Green Book’ Director Peter Farrelly Sorry for Flashing Penis in the Past: ‘I Was an Idiot’

Vallelonga’s tweet was deleted Wednesday evening shortly after it was resurfaced. The writer’s entire Twitter account was deleted soon after.

The contentious tweet comes as the writer and producer is on tour to promote his award-winning film — based on his father’s real-life experience driving concert pianist Dr. Don Shirley through the deep South in 1962.

I’ve confirmed that #GreenBook producer Nick Vallelonga did tweet in 2015 that he saw “Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down” on 9/11. That tweet and the account behind it have been deleted. Vallelonga had no comment. More here: https://t.co/9dfgg2tqVR

— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) January 10, 2019

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Google Has ‘No Plans’ for Censored Chinese Search Engine, Says CEO Sundar Pichai

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told U.S. Congress on Tuesday that the company has “no plans” to launch a censored search engine in China — despite acknowledging that a team of more than 100 engineers has worked on the project.

The tech giant currently “has no plans to launch in China,” Pichai told Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-TX) in response to her question about the company’s Chinese ambitions.

It was a topic that came up frequently during Pichai’s testimony. Pichai reiterated several times that Google isn’t planning on launching in China anytime soon.

Also Read: Watch Alex Jones Chase Google CEO Before Congressional Hearing and Chant ‘Google Is Evil’ (Video)

“It’s part of our core mission and principles to try hard to provide users with information,” Pichai said in response to a comment from Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA). “We always have evidence, based on every country we have operated in, us reaching out and giving users more information has a very positive impact, and we feel that calling. But right now, there are no plans to launch in China.”

Google has been under pressure from both critics, as well as many of its own employees, for its exploration of a censored search engine in China, dubbed “Project Greenfly.”

“Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” dozens of Google employees said in an open letter last month. “The Chinese government certainly isn’t alone in its readiness to stifle freedom of expression, and to use surveillance to repress dissent. Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions.”

Also Read: Google Employees Call for Company to Abandon Its Censored Chinese Search Engine

Later in his testimony, Pichai acknowledged that a team of more than 100 engineers had worked on a censored version of its search engine — a project that had been “under way for a while.” He then repeated the company had no plans to launch a Chinese search engine. Pichai added Google would be “very transparent” in the future when it comes to reentering China.

Pichai was even skewered by InfoWars founder Alex Jones for Project Greenfly on Tuesday as he went to give his testimony. “Google is siding with the Communist Chinese against America!” Jones shouted. “Google’s helping arrest Chinese dissidents!”

Google initially left China in 2010 over censorship and cybersecurity concerns. China’s rigid online censorship — facetiously called the “Great Firewall” —  has stifled free speech online for years through a network of moderators, technical restraints and legislative regulations. The Chinese government blocks access to pornography and news stories that are overly critical of its communist regime, as well as major sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Also Read: Hulu Hires Google’s Heather Moosnick to Lead Content Acquisition

“Anytime we look to operate in a country we would look at what the conditions are to operate,” Pichai said.  “There are times in the past where we debated the conditions to operate, and we explore a wide range of possibilities. Currently, it is an effort only internally for us. We are not doing this in China.”

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Watch Alex Jones Chase Google CEO Before Congressional Hearing and Chant ‘Google Is Evil’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Digital shock jock Alex Jones chased behind Google CEO Sundar Pichai as he entered the Rayburn House Office Building to testify before U.S. Congress on Tuesday.

“Google is evil! Google is evil!” Jones repeatedly shouted at Pichai.

The conspiracy theory-loving InfoWars founder has been on a crusade against major tech companies after he was kicked off several platforms, including Google-owned YouTube, earlier this year. Jones saw traffic to InfoWars plummet as a result, with the site losing 50 percent of its traffic after being banished from Facebook and YouTube in August.

Also Read: Twitter Permanently Bans Alex Jones for ‘Abusive Behavior’

Jones also lambasted Pichai for Google’s potential re-entry into China with a censored search engine.

“Google is siding with the Communist Chinese against America!” Jones shouted. “Google’s helping arrest Chinese dissidents!”

Pichai, for his part, simply ignored Jones and did not acknowledge him.

Also Read: Alex Jones Sees Traffic Plummet After Facebook, YouTube Ban

This wasn’t the first time Jones has headed to Washington for a tech bigwig’s appearance. He attended Twitter chief Jack Dorsey’s congressional testimony in August, where he got into a shouting match with Sen. Marco Rubio, calling him a “frat boy.”

Jones’ rant was interrupted by a police officer who told him to pipe down. “You’re in a public hallway, you can be arrested. That’s enough. You’re making too much noise,” the officer said.

“So Google’s not evil then, officer?” Jones responded.
“I’m not saying that. Just control yourself,” the officer replied.
Jones then continued to vent in the hallways about Google’s Chinese ambitions. Pichai, during his testimony later, said Google has “no plans” to launch a censored search engine in China, although he didn’t elaborate on the company’s internal planning on a potential return to the country.
Jon Levine contributed to this report. 
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Tim Cook Tells White Supremacists They ‘Have No Home’ on Apple Platforms

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has a clear message for white supremacists looking to spew their hate on his platforms: Take a hike.

Receiving the first “Courage Against Hate” award from the Anti-Defamation League, Cook took what could be deemed as an unveiled swipe at Facebook and other tech companies currently under fire for being too slow to eradicate hate speech and misinformation on their platforms.

“At Apple, we believe technology needs to have a clear point of view,” Cook said in an acceptance speech. “This is no time to get tied up in knots. We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division or violence: You have no place on our platforms. You have no home here.”

Also Read: Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls Out ‘Data-Industrial Complex’

Cook went on to say: “From the earliest days of iTunes to Apple Music today we have always prohibited music with a history of white supremacy. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. And as we showed this year, we won’t give a platform to violent conspiracy theorists. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.”

In August, Apple yanked several podcasts from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones off of iTunes. Facebook, YouTube and Spotify soon followed suit. Twitter, which resisted the move at first, eventually joined the ban.

“We believe the future should belong to those who use technology to build a better, more inclusive and more hopeful world,” Cook said. “I believe the most sacred thing that each of us is given is our judgment, our morality, our own innate desire to separate right from wrong. Choosing to set that responsibility aside in a moment of trial is a sin.”

Also Read: Microsoft Bumps Apple as Most Valuable Company in the World

Last year, Cook blasted President Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in an email to employees and pledged to donate $2 million to organizations battling hate groups.

“What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country,” the email said, according to BuzzFeed, which obtained a copy. “Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world.”

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Laura Loomer Handcuffs Herself to Twitter’s New York Office to Protest Permanent Suspension

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Far-right activist Laura Loomer protested her recent permanent suspension from Twitter by handcuffing herself to the front door at the company’s New York City office on Thursday afternoon.

Wearing a yellow Star of David on her sweater and carrying a sign reading “Jew hatred? A-ok! Nosey Jew? Banned” with the Twitter logo attached, Loomer told onlookers “enough is enough” when it comes to the company’s treatment of right-wing voices.

“You’re censoring and banning conservatives!” Loomer yelled while facing the office’s entrance. “You’re evil.”

Also Read: Twitter Permanently Suspends Far-Right Activist Laura Loomer

Loomer’s account was purged last week after lambasting recently-elected Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Loomer called Omar — a Somali refugee and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress —  “anti Jewish” in a tweet, soon after Omar had said she supported the Israel “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” movement.

“Ilhan is pro Sharia Ilhan is pro-[female genital mutilation],” Loomer tweeted. “Under Sharia, homosexuals are oppressed & killed. Women are abused & forced to wear the hijab. Ilhan is anti Jewish.”

On Thursday, Loomer blasted Twitter for kicking off several prominent conservatives while failing to remove Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who compared Jews to termites in a video shared on social media last month. Twitter decided against following in Facebook’s footsteps after the social network hit Farrakhan with a one-month suspension for violating the company’s “hate speech policies.”

Also Read: Conservatives Upset After Twitter Bans Right-Wing Radio Host Jesse Kelly

“I’m not going to leave, I’ll be out here all night. I’ll be out here for days if that’s what it takes,” Loomer shouted on Thursday. “I want to know why I was banned on Twitter but Louis Farrakhan still has his account.”

She then asked when Congress would take action against social platforms that were “silencing” conservatives.

“There is a terrible double standard that exists at Twitter, where if you’re a liberal or a Muslim, you’re allowed to say and do whatever you want,” Loomer continued. “Whether that’s calling for Jew hatred, calling Jews termites, calling for terrorist attacks, [or] inciting jihad like Linda Sarsour, right?”

Also Read: ‘Aladdin’ Writer Terry Rossio Apologizes for ‘Insensitive and Ignorant’ Use of N-Word on Twitter

Loomer’s stunt quickly turned into a spectacle. The police offered to cut Loomer free if she wanted to leave, because she’d lost her handcuff keys and Twitter was declining to press any charges, according to The Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer.

“We notified the relevant authorities who responded. The account holder was suspended for violating our policies. We apply the Twitter Rules impartially and not based on ideology,” a Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap.

Counter-protesters showed up to mock Loomer. At one point, some Gizmodo employees heckled Loomer, according to CNN.

Loomer’s banishment added to a growing list of conservatives removed from Twitter in the past two months. Most notoriously, digital shock jock Alex Jones was kicked off Twitter in September for violating its policy against “abusive behavior.” Jones had criticized CNN reporter Oliver Darcy, saying he had “the eyes of a rat,” among other things.

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Twitter Loses 9 Million Users, Stock Still Soars on Strong Q3 Revenue Growth

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Despite losing nearly 10 million users from the previous quarter, Twitter blew past Wall Street earnings and revenue estimates when it reported its third quarter financials on Thursday morning — sending its stock price surging in the process.

Twitter posted $758 million in revenue and earnings of 21 cents per share — easily passing analyst estimates of $702.6 million in sales and earnings of 14 cents per share. Revenue increased 29 percent year-over-year. Ad revenue, at $650 million for the quarter, accounted for most of its sales and also increased 29 percent year-over-year.

Most notably, the San Francisco-based company dropped 9 million users during the third quarter, falling from 335 million monthly users to 326 million monthly users. It’s the second straight quarter Twitter has posted declining monthly user growth. Daily active users increased 9 percent year-over-year, but Twitter continued to not disclose the total number of DAUs on its platform.

Also Read: Twitter Releases Millions of Russian, Iranian Troll Tweets

Twitter attributed the drop in users to several factors, including new European data protection laws, product changes to reduce automated accounts, and “decisions we have made to prioritize the health of the platform.”

Wall Street didn’t seem to mind the drop in users at first blush, with Twitter shares increasing 13 percent in pre-market trading to $31.15 per share.

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, in a statement accompanying earnings, said the company has been able to “prioritize the long-term health” of the platform by doing a better job of removing troll accounts.

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“We’re achieving meaningful progress in our efforts to make Twitter a healthier and valuable everyday service,” Dorsey said. “We’re doing a better job detecting and removing spammy and suspicious accounts at sign-up. We’re also continuing to introduce improvements that make it easier for people to follow events, topics and interests on Twitter, like adding support for U.S. TV shows in our new event infrastructure.”

Improving the “health of the conversation,” as the company routinely puts it, has been a primary focus for Twitter this year. Twitter joined several other Silicon Valley powerhouses, including Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, in permanently suspending digital shock jock Alex Jones in September. The week before, Dorsey went to Washington, D.C. and told Congress the company doesn’t target conservative voices. “Impartiality is our guiding principle,” Dorsey said.

Like Facebook, Twitter has scrambled to weed out trolls spreading fake news before the 2018 U.S. midterms. Twitter removed hundreds of accounts tied to the Iranian and Russian governments in August for sharing political misinformation.

Also Read: Alex Jones Is Back Live-Streaming on Twitter Immediately After ‘Permanent’ Suspension

For Twitter shareholders, it’s been a turbulent year heading into Thursday. Twitter shares enjoyed a significant rally in the first half of 2018, increasing from about $25 per share to $45 per share between the first of January and mid-July. But the company had since given up most of its gains for the year, after it reported a decrease in monthly users — from 336 million to 335 million — during the second quarter. Twitter shares closed Tuesday trading at $27.54 per share.

The company will hold a call at 8:00 a.m. ET to discuss its earnings.

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PayPal Cancels Alex Jones Account In Latest Hi-Tech Termination

Read on: Deadline.

PayPal has canceled the accounts of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars website, citing alleged incidents of hate speech and discriminatory content.
The termination continues Jones’s recent string of hi-tech clashes. He has been canceled by …

PayPal Drops Alex Jones’ InfoWars for Promoting ‘Hate’

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PayPal announced Friday that it would not longer work with Alex Jones’ InfoWars, which it said had been found to be in violation of PayPal’s “core values.”

“Our values are the foundation for the decision. We undertook an extensive review of the Infowars sites, and found instances that promoted hate or discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions, which run counter to our core value of inclusion,” a spokesperson for the company told TheWrap in a statement.

InfoWars, the flagship site of web conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, had used PayPal to process transactions for its online store and will now have 10 days to find a replacement.

Jones did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Also Read: Alex Jones Sees Traffic Plummet After Facebook, YouTube Ban

On Twitter, longtime critics of Jones, including “Sleeping Giants” and RightWingWatch, declared victory and claimed responsibility for the decision by PayPal.

After my reporting and request for comment, PayPal dropped Infowars

Here’s the story that got the ball rolling:https://t.co/l3GDJwN3wd https://t.co/X1RR27L1hK

— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) September 21, 2018

CONFIRMED: @PayPal has dropped Infowars. https://t.co/edOUGEObAr

— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) September 21, 2018

PayPal is the latest company to sever ties with Jones, whose increasingly toxic brand had been banished from YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.

In the past Jones, has promoted the infamous PizzaGate conspiracy, 9/11 trutherism — and notoriously challenged the authenticity of the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that claimed 26 lives.

Also Read: Alex Jones Denies Watching Trans Porn: ‘Everybody Has Had Porn Pop-Up on Their Phones’ (Video)

He is facing currently facing an existential threat to his business from a series of defamation lawsuits brought by the families of victims of the Newtown massacre.

Jones has in the past questioned whether the massacre took place and his followers have harassed grieving families for years. Experts have speculated that the goal of such legal maneuvering might be to take him off the air for good following the same playbook as Peter Thiel’s years long legal effort against Gawker.com.

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‘The Deuce’ Creator Slams Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as ‘F—bonnet for Our Time’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

David Simon isn’t done with Jack Dorsey just yet. “The Deuce” creator sounded off on Twitter’s chief exec on Wednesday, calling Dorsey a “f—bonnet for our time” in a lengthy, acid-tongued blog post.

Simon is still riled up after being slapped with a two-week suspension earlier this year for saying Dorsey should “die of boils” — and believes Twitter’s handling of his account crystallizes the platform’s love of censorship. Simon said Dorsey’s “s–itsquib, basement-dwelling minions” pressured him to delete his “boils” tweet, and when Simon refused, decided to stealthily remove the tweet for him.

“That’s right, you took it down yourself, quietly, secretly — and all the while kept pretending that until I did so you couldn’t possibly return me to your platform,” Simon wrote.  “You gutless, cheese-eating, back-dooring f—bonnet.”

Also Read: Jack Dorsey Goes to Washington, Says Twitter Doesn’t Target Conservative Voices

Simon continued: “Imagine my amusement to revisit my rusting hulk of thread on the old Twitter battleground and see that I have been studiously denying every one of your entreaties for me to remove this savage affront to personhood of Jack Dorsey, only to discover that no, Twitter and Jack Dorsey could bear it no longer.”

Twitter, commenting to TheWrap, pushed back against Simon’s claims, saying it doesn’t delete tweets.

“When we determine that a tweet violated the Twitter Rules, we require the violator to delete it before they can Tweet again,” a Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap. “We send an email notification to the violator identifying the tweet(s) in violation and which policies have been violated. They will then need to go through the process of deleting the violating Tweet or appealing our review if they believe we made an error.”

Simon’s blog comes after Dorsey has already gone through months of criticism for how Twitter polices its platform. Many have questioned whether the company shadow-bans prominent conservatives —  a claim Dorsey has adamantly denied — while Twitter was also skewered by left-leaning pundits for not joining Facebook, Apple and Google in banning conspiracy theorist Alex Jones last month. Twitter ultimately booted Jones last week for “abusive behavior.”

Also Read: Twitter Denies Jack Dorsey Personally Stopped Alex Jones Ban

“The Wire” creator pointed to the “filth” on Twitter — white supremacists, Nazis, the “professional ideological trolls” — and acknowledged the difficulty in making the platform more appealing. But Twitter’s muddled rules, coupled with its inability to enforce them consistently, makes it a laughingstock, according to Simon.

Simon included his two-step “correct response”  to dealing with racists: 1) “tell the f—-r he’s a piece of s–t” and 2) “block him.”

“You suck, Jack,” Simon added. “Seriously. Having had your platform misused against democratic ideals, you’ve now, amid political pressure, embraced censorship as a means to a quick and simple end. But of course as is always the case with censorship, you’ve done so incompetently and without regard to the ethical cost and inevitable blowback. You’ve butchered it. Badly.”

Also Read: Alex Jones Is Back Live-Streaming on Twitter Immediately After ‘Permanent’ Suspension

You can read the full 2,000 word blog post here.

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Colbert Drinks on Stage to Forget the Horrible Week, Delivers Dead-On Alex Jones Impression (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

It’s 2018, which means that by definition we just had a crazy week. But this week in Trump’s America was certainly crazier than than your average week in 2018, and so Stephen Colbert spent his opening monologue on “The Late Show” Friday night taking a look back, drinking a refreshing alcoholic beverage to dull the pain, and then doing an Alex Jones impression that was surprisingly pretty great even though doing it cause Colbert physical pain.

“What a week we have gone through together. We had the revelations from Bob Woodward’s book that confirmed everything we thought was happening was happening,” Colbert said to open the monologue, before plugging Woodward’s upcoming appearance on “The Late Show” on Monday.

“Then, what else happened this week? We had an op-ed in The New York Times from an anonymous Trump administration official saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s happening.’ Hell of a week, you know? Oh, the memories. Let’s get rid of those right now.”

Also Read: Colbert: You Can’t Mitigate Trump’s Worst Inclinations ‘Because All of Trump’s Inclinations Are Tied for Worst’ (Video)

Then Colbert took a sip from an Old Fashioned that was handed to him from offscreen. Then he began looking at other big things that happened this week that somehow managed to fly under the radar because of the other stuff, starting with the congressional hearings on whether Facebook and Twitter have an agenda against conservatives.

He started with the weird incident when conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer tried to crash the proceedings by doing a rant about how leftists were trying to steal elections by banning conservatives from social media — which climaxed when Rep. Billy Long did an auctioneer impression as Loomer was being led out of the room. Then Colbert moved on to the dust-up between Alex Jones and Marco Rubio.

“The crazy also spilled outside the chambers into the hallway, where Florida senator Marco Rubio was confronted by alt-right conspiracy theorist and man whose porn name is Lance Boil, Alex Jones,” Colbert said. “Jones has been permanently banned from Twitter at this point, and his official pages were removed from Facebook. So he ambushed Rubio to… I don’t know what. He ambushed Rubio to fix it?”

Also Read: Colbert Presents a ‘Reading Rainbow’ Episode for Bob Woodward’s Trump Book (Video)

Then “The Late Show” played part of the clip of the odd confrontation, ending it with this exchange:

Rubio: “All right, man. Who are you? Who is this guy? I swear to god, I don’t know who you are, man.”

Jones: “Tens of millions of views? Better than Rush Limbaugh? He knows who Info Wars is.”

And that’s when Colbert dropped his Alex Jones impression.

” ‘Yeah, everybody knows what Info Wars is. Tens of millions of views. That’s not even counting the mole people watching my live feed on the micro screens on the bottom of my feet! Marco Rubio is a snake man. Come on, unhinge that jaw, Marco! Swallow me! Swallow me whole! I’m delicious!’ ” Colbert said, apparently physically uncomfortable by the end of it.

“That actually hurts to do.”

Also Read: Seth Meyers: ‘Trump Is Such a Bad Liar, Even His Lies Prove That He’s Lying’

You can watch this portion of the opening monologue from Friday night’s episode of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” in the video embedded at the top of this post.

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‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Review: Michael Moore’s New Movie Is About a Lot More Than Donald Trump

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Fahrenheit 11/9,” which had its world premiere on Thursday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, was supposed to be Michael Moore’s new movie to bring down President Donald Trump.

But that’s the movie we thought Moore was making, not the movie he actually made.

The movie he made is bigger, messier, more sprawling and ultimately more rousing. It goes on long detours, changes course and leaves Trump offscreen for huge chunks of time, as it turns into something that is less an anti-Trump diatribe than a demand for action.

The heart of the movie, it turns out, isn’t Trump at all — it’s the mothers crusading for action in Flint, Michigan, the teachers successfully going on strike in West Virginia and, most of all, the students from Parkland, Florida who turned the mass shooting at their school into the start of a national movement.

Also Read: Michael Moore Calls Trump ‘Tyrant’ and ‘Racist’ in ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Poster (Photo)

The audience at the Ryerson, primed for the message and the man, interrupted the film with applause at several points and rewarded Moore with a standing ovation at the end. The filmmaker  brought several Parkland students onstage for the post-screening Q&A at the Ryerson Theater, and one of them, David Hogg, asked a question that might be the takeaway Moore is looking for: “Who’s ready to save America?”

The point of the film is that America needs to be saved — not from Trump so much as from the system that led to his election.

And that election is the jumping-off point for “Fahrenheit 11/9,” which begins with a lengthy section on election night and leads into the opening credits with a simple question: “How the f— did this happen?”

For a while, it goes down that road, tracing the rise of Trump, who Moore claims only decided to announce his candidacy as a ploy to get NBC to pay him as much for “The Celebrity Apprentice” as they were paying Gwen Stefani for “The Voice.” (He offers no evidence for this.)

Also Read: ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Trailer: Michael Moore Targets Trump Ahead of 2018 Midterms (Video)

Most of the questions going into “Fahrenheit “11/9,” which Moore only announced in June, dealt with how much new info he had on Trump and how damaging it would be. But, as Moore points out, Trump has done the things that should have disqualified him out in the open. So while Moore runs through the charges of racism and sexual assault and financial corruption, those are nothing new. (He barely touches on Russia and collusion at all.)

Then “Fahrenheit 11/9” starts taking detours. The biggest one, which he returns to for lengthy chunks of the film, is the Flint water crisis, which took place during the Obama administration but which Moore lays at the feet of Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who he labels a Trump crony.

(By the way, he comes down very hard on Obama, too, and even harder on the Democratic Party.)

The Flint section initially feels like a lengthy digression, then a movie of its own that Moore could have made. Throw in segments on the plight of teachers and working-class families in West Virginia, the Democratic establishment’s timidity and pro-Hillary Clinton bias, the shooting in Parkland, the electoral college, voter apathy and a few other topics, and the film named for the day of Donald Trump’s election suddenly doesn’t seem very much about Trump at all.

Also Read: ‘Outlaw King’ Review: Chris Pine Soldiers Bravely Through Crowded Epic

But it is all about the America that elected Trump, which is why “Fahrenheit 11/9” grows slowly from an exhausting movie that is all over the map to a rousing one that makes a call to arms in troubled times. (And since Alex Jones is seen in the movie accusing Moore of encouraging violence, I should point out that when I say call to arms, I mean it entirely metaphorically.)

For Moore, the history of Trump’s rise and the perils he sees in a continuing Trump presidency are secondary to his desire to encourage the kind of action he sees from the Parkland students, the teachers who went on strike in West Virginia, the ordinary citizens who are running for office around the country.

Also Read: ‘Greta’ Film Review: Neil Jordan’s Psycho Stalker Flick Is Bloody Good Fun

“Our time is up,” Moore says near the end of the film – and while he said in the post-screening Q&A that he doesn’t like the word hope, the film manages to gather all its disparate strands and proclaim that maybe, just maybe, a broken system can be repaired before the American experiment crumbles into something far from what it set out to be.

But was he just preaching to the converted (or the Canadians?) The country was divided when Moore made “Fahrenheit 9/11” in 2002, but the gulf between right and left has never been wider than it is now. And remember, “Fahrenheit 9/11” came out in an election year, too — and despite its damning impact and all those box-office dollars that made it the top-grossing documentary of all time, President George W. Bush was re-elected.

But a movie this sprawling wants to do more than get people to the polls. Its TIFF premiere was a rousing launch, but Moore would be the first to tell you that there’s work to be done.

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Alex Jones Is Back Live-Streaming on Twitter Immediately After ‘Permanent’ Suspension

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Despite being “permanently suspended” by Twitter on Thursday, Alex Jones was back live streaming on the company’s Periscope platform only minutes after the company’s announced ban due to “abusive behavior.”

“I was taken down not because we lie but because we tell the truth,” Jones said while streaming on “War Room,” an InfoWars show. The “War Room” Twitter account has about 26,000 followers.

Twitter is “trying to destroy our basic birthright” of free speech, Jones added. “This is why we were banned: they’re scared of us.”

Twitter on Thursday joined several tech giants, including YouTube and Facebook, in banning Jones. The company said Jones and his InfoWars website were removed, and it would “take action” if he attempted to return to the platform or Periscope, its live streaming platform.

Also Read: Jack Dorsey Tells Congress Twitter Doesn’t Use ‘Political Ideology’ to Make Decisions

“We are suspending @realalexjones and @infowars, and banning Alex Jones as an individual,” A Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap. “Also, we are assessing other linked accounts on a case-by-case basis. If tweets and videos that violate our rules are reported, or accounts are utilized as a way to get around the ban, they will be actioned.”

A video of Jones badgering CNN’s Oliver Darcy on Wednesday was the driving force behind his ban, according to The Daily Beast. “Those are the eyes of a rat,” Jones said to Darcy, after accusing Darcy and CNN of working to silence his voice on major platforms. Jones — on hand in Washington, D.C. for Twitter chief Jack Dorsey’s testimony to Congress — also went viral for blasting Sen. Marco Rubio as a “frat boy” and a “snake” on Wednesday.

Jones doubled down on his criticism on his Thursday live stream, calling Darcy a “horrible little creature” and “sociopath.” Jones also accused Twitter and “deep state actors” of shadow banning “everyone I know,” including his neighbors, churches, and gun stores. Dorsey pushed back on claims the company shadow bans conservatives on Wednesday, telling Congress the company’s decisions aren’t driven by “politically ideology.”

Also Read: Twitter Permanently Bans Alex Jones for ‘Abusive Behavior’

Jones’ Twitter dismissal wipes away about 1.5 million followers. The online shock jock — well known for peddling conspiracy theories, including the Sandy Hook school shooting being a “hoax” — has already seen his traffic massively reduced in the last month.

Following his removal from several tech giants, including Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, InfoWars received about 715,000 daily visitors in August, about half as much traffic as it averaged the month prior.

His “War Room” live stream featured several ads for his supplements on Thursday. “Thank god for the audience, and I don’t need to tell you we need it now more than ever,” Owen Shroyer, “War Room” host, added.

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Twitter Permanently Bans Alex Jones for ‘Abusive Behavior’

Alex Jones Sees Traffic Plummet After Facebook, YouTube Ban

Twitter Denies Jack Dorsey Personally Stopped Alex Jones Ban