A day after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey conceded that the micro-blogging site’s decision to delete the account of US President Donald Trump permanently was a harsh one which it needed to take, a leaked audio clip suggests Twitter would continue to be high-handed in its dealings with ideological adversaries. In what comes across the latest episode in the series of Dorsey confessions, the first of which was an admission of the fact that the composition of the Twitter staff had a leftist skew, conservative activist group Project Veritas shared a recording where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is heard saying that the site’s way of dealing with Republicans was not an aberration but a norm that will now be policy.
Project Veritas says the speech was recorded on 8 January. Dorsey said in his address to the employees, “The focus is certainly on this account (Donald Trump), and how it ties to real-world violence, but also we need to think much longer-term around how these dynamics play out over time. I don’t believe this is going away any time soon.”
Declaring, albeit in-house, that Twitter will continue to censor content that does not suit the medium’s management well into the future even after the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden on 20 January, Dorsey said, “We know we are focused on one account right now, but this is going to be much bigger than just one account, and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, this week, the next few weeks, going on beyond inauguration. We have to expect that. We have to be ready for that.”
Earlier, Twitter had pulled down more than 70,000 accounts for allegedly peddling QAnon conspiracy theories, Jack Dorsey admitted that the micro-blogging platform would proscribe more handles of the type. He said, “The moves that we’re making today, around, you know, QAnon, for instance, is one such example of a much broader approach that we should be looking at and going deeper on.
What is QAnon?
… YouTube announced that it would take additional measures to block content that promotes QAnon, a pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theory or movement. QAnon has been under the spotlight in recent times. In July, Twitter and TikTok blocked some hashtags and removed some accounts related to it. In August, Facebook announced a ban on QAnon groups.
It took shape around 2017 when an anonymous user called “Q” or “Q Clearance Patriot” started posting conspiracy theories. “Q” refers to a security clearance given by the US Department of Energy for access to top-secret information. Q, who claims to be a high-ranking intelligence officer with access to sensitive information of the Trump administration, started posting on the platform 4chan in 2017, and now posts on 8kun, a website run by the founders of 8chan (which was shut down after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas in 2019 — the killers had posted hate content on 8chan). It is not clear if Q is a single user.
— from a 17 October 2020 report in The Indian Express
Dorsey urged his staff members in the speech to fall in line, saying, “The team has a lot of work and a lot of focus on this particular issue, but we also need to give them the space and the support to focus on the much bigger picture because it is, it is not going away. The US is extremely divided. Our platform is showing this every single day. And our role is to protect the integrity of that conversation and do what we can to make sure that no one is being harmed based off that.”
In the words of Fox News show anchor Tucker Carlson, “Jack Dorsey admitted out loud what the rest of them are still denying. This is not really about Donald Trump. It never was. It is definitely not about what happened last week at the Capitol. It is about controlling you and the country you thought was yours forever. Sorry! There is a national crisis going on and we have no choice.”
World hasn’t taken to Twitter action kindly
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on 11 January that the decision by social media giants to permanently remove Donald Trump’s accounts was problematic as freedom of opinion ought not to be determined by such online platform bosses.
“The fundamental right to freedom of opinion is a fundamental right of elementary importance, and this fundamental right can be interfered with, but through the law and within the framework defined by the legislature, not according to the decision of the management of social media platforms,” Merkel said.
Before the German chancellor, Mexico’s president had on 8 January condemned the decision by social media platforms to block the accounts of US President Donald Trump. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was quick to criticise what he called the censorship of the US president.
Twitter Inc shares went under pressure after the social-media platform deleted President Trump’s account in a move the company said was done to prevent Capitol Hill-like violence. Shares of the Palo Alto, the California-based company that operates Twitter, fell more than 10% at the opening bell, erasing more than $ 2.5 billion from the micro-blogging site’s $ 41 billion market capitalisation. Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc were also lower, too, after Trump’s accounts were removed from their respective platforms.