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It isn’t Twitter’s responsibility to decide what is and isn’t truthful, according to chief executive Jack Dorsey. “I do think it would be dangerous for a company like ours … to be arbiters of truth,” said Dorsey in a wide ranging interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday.
It was the latest stop for Dorsey in a sudden media tour that came together after Twitter decided against banning digital shock jock Alex Jones two weeks ago. The decision, which broke from silicon valley peers like Facebook and Apple, was criticized by many in the media including Stelter, who likened Twitter to a “garden overrun by weeds” in the Sunday interview.
When pressed, Dorsey said he wasn’t convinced it’s Twitter’s job to make sure users aren’t misinformed. He compared the site to the a “public square” where ideas can be debated, so long as they don’t overstep Twitter’s rules against “abusive behavior.”
“I think we need to be really thoughtful about what that means. What is misinformation? And how do we help people determine credibility?” responded Dorsey. “I don’t think it’s pretty easy. What we could do is help provide more context. Identifying more credible voices.”
Twitter, while looking to improve the “health of public conversation” on its platform, has been criticized from both the left and write for the lack of clarity regarding what is and is not a violation of Twitter policies. Conservatives have also accused the platform of so-called “shadow banning” prominent Republicans, and arbitrarily kicking them off altogether.
Dorsey, who has openly asked for help in dealing with the problem of trolls, told Stelter that Twitter’s bias is “more left-leaning,” but said it has no impact on its enforcement.
“The real question behind the question is, ‘Are we doing something according to political ideology or view points?’ And we are not. Period,” said Dorsey. “We do not look at content with regards to political viewpoint or ideology. We look at behavior.”
Dorsey wouldn’t commit to making “fundamental changes” by the end of 2018 when questioned by Stelter.
Twitter bucked pressure to follow Facebook, Apple, and Spotify after the companies recently banished Jones for “bullying” and “hate speech.” The commentator has made a career of pushing absurd conspiracy theories, the most notorious being his claim the Sandy Hook school shooting was a “hoax.” Twitter ultimately suspended Jones for one week — or “time out,” as Dorsey put it at the time — after Jones posted a video to Twitter-owned Periscope in which he told viewers to get “battle rifles” in order to oppose Antifa.