"We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety," Dorsey wrote

By Eric Todisco
January 14, 2021 10:27 AM
Jack Dorsey (left) and President Donald Trump
| Credit: Phillip Faraone/Getty; Tasos Katopodis/Getty

Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey on Wednesday expanded on the company's decision to ban President Donald Trump in the wake of last week's U.S. Capitol riot by a pro-Trump mob, in which five people were killed.

In a 13-tweet thread, Dorsey, 44, said that banning Trump, 74, "was the right decision" — but added that he felt the move sets a "dangerous" precedent for a "free and open global internet."

The company had long been under fire for how it handled the president's tweets, in particular his history of lies and other abuses. Twitter had maintained that, because of Trump's position, his posts were newsworthy.

Rather than a more sweeping action, they responded to individual controversies around his tweets, including fact-checking certain claims or limiting how far they could spread.

On Friday, however, Twitter announced it was booting Trump because of his comments in the wake of the rioting, including language the social media platform felt supporter further violence from his supporters.

The president initially encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and praised them as "very special" once the protesters descended into mob violence. While Trump also urged them to return home and be peaceful, he warned in a tweet after the riot that "these are the things and events that happen .... Remember this day forever!"

On Wednesday, Dorsey began his thread about the ban by writing that "I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here."

He went on both to defend the choice and its timing and to reflect on his own worries about social media enforcement policies feeling like censorship.

"After a clear warning we'd take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?" Dorsey wrote.

He continued: "I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all."

"Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation," Dorsey wrote. "They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation."

And while Dorsey wrote that "a company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access" — an implicit response to cries of censorship – he also expressed sympathy with that view: "[it] can feel much the same."

"Yes, we all need to look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement," he wrote, in another seeming reference to criticism over how Twitter has handled controversial accounts in the past. "Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivize distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can't erode a free and open global internet."

Dorsey concluded his thread by writing that he believes "the internet and global public conversation is our best and most relevant method of achieving" a "more peaceful existence on Earth."

Trump's Twitter suspension didn't initially stop the president from attempting to use other accounts to send messages.

In the wake of Friday's ban, he sent out three tweets from the @POTUS account, a government handle reserved for the sitting president of the United States, following the suspension of the @realDonaldTrump handle.

His attempt to use other accounts proved to be unsuccessful as his new tweets were quickly removed by the social media platform.

After Twitter removed the tweets, Trump claimed he was being silenced.

The president has also been banned from Facebook while YouTube suspended his ability to post content and comment for at least seven days starting Tuesday.

President Donald Trump
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

On Wednesday, Trump was officially impeached for a second time by the House of Representatives — which included a Democratic majority and 10 Republicans who joined them to vote "yay" — for "incitement of insurrection."

A Senate trial expected to begin after he leaves office on Jan. 20.