The lovable Mark Twain once quipped, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” A similar observation might be made of the social media giant Twitter. If you don’t like the company’s policies, as outlined by its CEO, Jack Dorsey, just wait a few minutes.
On Tuesday, the day before Dorsey was to testify before two congressional committee on, among other things, questions of whether Twitter betrays a liberal bias, he was interviewed by Politico. The headline of the piece, which encapsulates its main takeaway, is “Twitter says Trump not immune from getting kicked off.”
Dorsey … said he receives notifications on his phone for Trump’s Twitter account. But asked if he would weigh in personally to remove Trump from the platform, he declined to get into specifics.
“We have to balance it with the context that it’s in,” he said. “So my role is to ask questions and make sure we’re being impartial, and we’re upholding consistently our terms of service, including public interest.”
If that is the company’s policy, then so be it. But if it is the company’s policy, perhaps Dorsey could enlarge on why it was not in January, when Twitter was inundated with demands that it ban Trump, who many claimed to fear was on the brink of initiating a nuclear war with North Korea. Twitter’s non-specific reply:
There’s been a lot of discussion about political figures and world leaders on Twitter, and we want to share our stance.
Twitter is here to serve and help advance the global, public conversation. Elected world leaders play a critical role in that conversation because of their outsized impact on our society.
Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.
We review Tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly. No one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions. We work hard to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind.
We are working to make Twitter the best place to see and freely discuss everything that matters. We believe that’s the best way to help our society make progress.
Dorsey was equally circumspect in his answers to questions posed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
When Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton pressed Dorsey on Twitter‘s allegiance to the U.S., Dorsey steered a serene middle course. Asked if he saw a difference between cooperating with the U.S. government and the Russian or Chinese governments, Dorsey demurred. “Not sure what you mean,” he said.
“Are you an American company?” Cotton asked.
“We are an American company,” answered Dorsey, who at 41 is the same age as Cotton.
“Do you prefer to see America remain the world’s dominant global superpower?”
“I prefer that we continue to help everywhere to serve,” Dorsey replied, going on to affirm the importance of adhering to Twitter’s terms of service, protecting its users from 24/7 surveillance and, eventually, helping intelligence agencies when given a “proper legal order.”
Dorsey needn’t have been so cautious. In August, when asked whether his company leans left in its ideology, he freely admitted a that Twitter has a “left-leaning bias.”