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Twitter CEO Expands on Why He Won’t Ban Alex Jones, InfoWars

“We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term,” Dorsey wrote

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Twitter, tweets, social media
Twitter allows publishers to monetise video views globally. (VOA)

After several social media outlets banned alt-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his show InfoWars earlier this week, Twitter announced it would be keeping Jones, sparking backlash from users.

“We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote. Jones, who has become notorious for hosting The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars, has more than 860,000 followers on Twitter.

On Monday, sites such as YouTube and Facebook banned Jones and his pages from their platforms, claiming that Jones’s videos violated the sites’ hate speech guidelines.

Jones has repeatedly used language incendiary towards Muslim and transgender people, and in July he appeared to threaten to shoot U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating President Trump and his White House on possible ties to Russia.

“[Mueller is] a demon I will take down, or I’ll die trying,” Jones said on a July broadcast, miming a gun-firing motion with his hands. “You’re going to get it, or I’m going to die trying, bitch.”

In the past, Jones has baselessly alleged the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Connecticut were hoaxes perpetrated by the U.S. government.

Alex Jones
Alex Jones (C), an American conspiracy theorist and radio show host, is escorted out of a crowd of protesters after he said he was attacked in Public Square on July 19, 2016, in Cleveland, during the second day of the Republican convention. (VOA)

Several parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting are suing Jones for defamation. In a court document, the parents of one of the slain children claimed Jones broadcast his personal information on his show. At the time of its removal, Jones’s YouTube channel had more than 2.4 million subscribers, with 1.5 billion views across all of its videos.

Twitter’s hateful conduct guidelines bar “wishes for the physical harm, death, or disease of individuals or groups” as well as “behavior that incites fear about a protected group.”

“We do not tolerate behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person’s voice,” the site’s guidelines say.

While Dorsey acknowledged in a Tweet that accounts such as InfoWars can “sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors,” he also wrote that it “serves the public conversation best” for “journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly.”

Several journalists pushed back against Dorsey’s request.

“I am not getting paid to clean up your website for you,” wrote Matt Pearce, a journalist for The Los Angeles Times, in a response to Dorsey’s Tweet.

Milo Yiannopoulos
Milo Yiannopoulos speaks to a group protesting against CUNY’s decision to allow Linda Sarsour, a liberal Palestinian-American political activist, to speak at commencement in New York, May 25, 2017. (VOA)

Twitter has banned significant alt-right personalities in the past.

In 2016, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who has ties to white nationalist groups, was permanently banned from the site after instigating racist and sexist harassment against American actress Leslie Jones, who is black.

Also Read: Twitter May Block Account for Abusive Chats During Live Broadcasts

And in 2017, Twitter suspended the account of James Allsup, a white nationalist who spoke at the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier that year.

“We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term,” Dorsey wrote Tuesday. (VOA)

Next Story

Jack Dorsey Admits Twitter Makes it Easy to Abuse Others

Twitter last year said that making the platform free of abuse, spam and other things that distract from the public conversation is its top priority

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Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

Admitting that Twitter makes it “super easy to harass and abuse others”, CEO of the micrblogging platform Jack Dorsey has said that addressing the issue in a systematic way is his biggest worry.

The platform is relying more on Machine Learning (ML) to identify abusive tweets as opposed to having people individually report them, Dorsey said in his TED talk this week, Business Insider reported.

“We have seen abuse, we have seen harassment, we have seen manipulation, automation, human coordination, misinformation,” Dorsey was quoted as saying.

“These are dynamics that we were not expecting 13 years ago.”

Dorsey also lamented that the system places undue weight on followers and likes.

“Right now the system makes it super easy to harass and abuse others,” he said, while adding that Twitter has created a “pretty terrible situation” for women.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

As part of the efforts to make its platform appear less toxic, Twitter this week also announced that it is planning to give people an option to hide replies to their tweets, thereby giving users more control over the nature of conversation they would like to have on the platform.

“Starting in June, we’ll be experimenting with ways to give people more control over their conversations by giving them an option to hide replies to their Tweets,” Donald Hicks, Vice President, Twitter Service and David Gasca, Twitter’s Senior Director, Product Management, Health, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

While the feature has the potential to make trolls invisible, it could make it difficult for users to correct wrong statements made by others.

Also Read- 4 of 11 Tesla Board Members to Step Down by 2020

Other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram already give users much more power in terms of dealing with the comments to their posts, including the option to delete them.

Twitter last year said that making the platform free of abuse, spam and other things that distract from the public conversation is its top priority. (IANS)