Jack Dorsey is hedging his bets. In an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter, the beard-rocking CEO said Twitter is reluctant to commit to a timetable for enacting policies aimed at curbing heated political rhetoric on the site.
The executive’s lukewarm comments reflect an embattled social network that has been the brunt of criticism from both sides of the political divide. The left has taken Twitter to task for relative inaction over incendiary comments from far right pundits like Alex Jones. The site was slow to act, compared to the likes of services including YouTube, Facebook and even YouPorn (yep).
When it ultimately did ban Jones’ Infowars, it was a seven day “timeout.” That move, expectedly, has drawn scrutiny from the other side of the aisle. Yesterday, Trump tweeted a critique of social media in general, that is generally being regarded as a thinly-veiled allusion to his embattled supporter, Jones.
Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others
Trump also recently called for an end to what the right has deemed the “shadow banning” of conservative voices on social media.
“How do we earn peoples’ trust?” the CEO asked rhetorically during the conversation. “How do we guide people back to healthy conversation?”
Dorsey suggested that his company is “more left-leaning,” a notion that has made him extra cautious of blowback from the right. He also continued his position of refusing to hold the company to be accountable for fact-checking, a policy that runs counter to proclamations of other social media like Facebook.
“We have not figured this out,” Dorsey said, “but I do think it would be dangerous for a company like ours… to be arbiters of truth.”
For now, Dorsey and co. appear to be in a holding pattern, an indecisiveness that has drawn fire from all sides. The exec pines for a less polarized dialogue, citing NBA and K-Pop accounts as examples of Twitter subcultures that have been more measured in their approach.
Of course, anyone who’s spent time reading replies to LeBron or The Warriors can tell you that that’s a pretty low bar for discourse.
The fact of the matter is that this is the state of politics in 2018. Things are vicious and rhetoric can be incendiary. All of that is amplified by social media, as political pundits lean into troubling comments, conspiracy theory and outright lies to drive clicks.
Dorsey, says he’s pushing for policies “that encourage people to talk and to have healthy conversation.” Whatever Twitter’s “small staff” might have in the works, it certainly feels a long way off.