A little more than a week after a Twitter spokesperson failed to rule out the possibility that President-Elect Donald Trump could one day be banned from the platform for abuse violations, the company's CEO has said that he has "complicated" emotions around the reality TV star's use of the app.
As previously reported, in November reporters from multiple news orgs reached out to Twitter and Facebook to ask if those social networks' abuse policies would apply to the leader of the free world — not a completely insane question, given said leader's penchant for targeted personal attacks of citizens as well as his habit of spreading tweets from accounts promoting white supremacy.
Facebook said that they wouldn't dream of banning the admitted sexual assailant from their platform, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg basically acknowledging that all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. For example, Trump's post advocating a ban on Muslims likely falls under the network's ban of hate speech, but "at the point where the person who's elected president of the United States is expressing that opinion and has 60 million people who are followers," Zuckerberg says, "then the question is, OK, I think that that is mainstream political discourse."
A Twitter spokesperson took a harder line, saying that “The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies." When pressed if that applied even to Trump, the spokesperson said “The Twitter Rules apply to all accounts, including verified accounts.”
At Recode’s Code Commerce conference in San Francisco Tuesday night, Twitter top bird Jack Dorsey didn't address banishing Trump from the nest, but did suggest that his feelings on the demagogue were mixed. When asked by Recode editor Kara Swisher if he felt responsible for the election of the four-time bankruptee, Dorsey refused to accept the blame, saying "America is responsible for Donald Trump being president," The Verge reports.
"What does this mean to have a direct line to how he's thinking in real time? I'm not sure," USA Today quotes Dorsey as saying.
"“He’s known how to use it for quite some time," Dorsey said of Trump and Twitter. "I think it’s an important time for the company and service. And having the president-elect on our service, using it as a direct line of communication, allows everyone to see what’s on his mind in the moment. I think that’s interesting. I think it’s fascinating. I haven’t seen that before," the Guardian reports.
When, as a therapist speaking to a patient might, Swisher asked Dorsey how Trump's tweeting made him feel, Dorsey was evasive. His emotions (assuming he has them!) are, he says, “complicated.”
“I feel very proud of the role of the service and what it stands for and everything that we’ve done, and that continues to accelerate every single day. Especially as it’s had such a spotlight on it through his usage and through the election.”
Buuuuut? Come on Jack, surely there's a "but," here?
"We have a role and responsibility to make sure that people are seeing what they need to see and they can have easy conversations and really get to the truth," Business Insider quotes Dorsey as saying. "And that’s complicated."