In a recent article published by the Wall Street Journal, they highlight the lengths Twitter has gone to trying to crack down on “bad actors” on its platform–including that of CEO, Jack Dorsey being personally involved in the deciding of who gets blacklisted.
In an article published in the Wall Street Journal titled “Inside Twitter’s Long, Slow Struggle to Police Bad Actors,” Wells and Grind illustrate how Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has personally stepped in to help make decisions on the banning of certain high-profile accounts, frequently frustrating employees of Twitter. The article goes on to state that Twitter primarily relies on reports from users to help police the platform and decisions on whether or not to ban certain accounts are often made by reviewing a consistent set of policies that relate to the platform’s rules.
“Just who decides whether a user gets kicked off the site?
To some Twitter users—and even some employees—it is a mystery.
In policing content on the site and punishing bad actors, Twitter relies primarily on its users to report abuses and has a consistent set of policies so that decisions aren’t made by just one person, its executives say.
Yet, in some cases, Mr. Dorsey has weighed in on content decisions at the last minute or after they were made, sometimes resulting in changes and frustrating other executives and employees, according to people familiar with the matter.” –WSJ
With Dorsey due to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, September 5th, the CEO is expected to be questioned on the silencing of conservative voices on Twitter, via shadowbanning, and their practice of outright banning of certain conservative accounts. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the committee, stated that the hearing “is about pulling back the curtain on Twitter’s algorithms, how the company makes decisions about content, and how those decisions impact Americans.”
The WSJ article states:
“Last month, after Twitter’s controversial decision to allow conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to remain on its platform, Mr. Dorsey told one person that he had overruled a decision by his staff to kick Mr. Jones off, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Twitter disputes that account and says Mr. Dorsey wasn’t involved in those discussions.
Twitter’s initial inaction on Mr. Jones, after several other major tech companies banned or limited his content, drew fierce backlash from the public and Twitter’s own employees, some of whom tweeted in protest.
A similar chain of events unfolded in November 2016, when the firm’s trust and safety team kicked alt-right provocateur Richard Spencer off the platform, saying he was operating too many accounts. Mr. Dorsey, who wasn’t involved in the initial discussions, told his team that Mr. Spencer should be allowed to keep one account and stay on the site, according to a person directly involved in the discussions.”
Dorsey will appear alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and a “Google representative,” to discuss their policing of “bad actors.” Big League Politics reported last week that Google CEO Sundar Pichai has refused to testify at the hearing, and had said at one point they would be sending Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president for global affairs, in Pichai’s place.
Twitter went on to state that Dorsey does not have the power to overrule Twitter staff when it comes to content issues and declined to make Dorsey available for personal comment:
“Any suggestion that Jack made or overruled any of these decisions is completely and totally false,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s chief legal officer, said in a statement. “Our service can only operate fairly if it’s run through consistent application of our rules, rather than the personal views of any executive, including our CEO.”-WSJ.
Dorsey has promised several times that the company would do better in policing content, telling one user in January 2017, “
@JShahryar yes you did and thank you. We moved too slow. We are fixing. It will take time. And we will be more transparent”
@JShahryar yes you did and thank you. We moved too slow. We are fixing. It will take time. And we will be more transparent
— jack (@jack) January 4, 2017
Dorsey is expected to be questioned specifically over whether Twitter is silencing conservatives using their “Quality Filter Discrimination” (QFD)
shadowbanning tool. With several users noting the QFD shadowban, which seems to only be applied to right-wing voices have recently been lifted-suggesting it was done just ahread of Dorsey’s appearance before the committee on Wednesday. Convenient.
Mike Tokes (@MikeTokes) tweeted on Saturday, “BREAKING: It appears Twitter has removed the QFD shadow ban from most conservative accounts. This appears to be a coordinated effort by Twitter to cover up any wrongdoing before testifying in front of Congress.
BREAKING: It appears Twitter has removed the QFD shadow ban from most conservative accounts.
— Mike Tokes (@MikeTokes) September 1, 2018
Tim Pool tweeted on Sunday, “With just days till
@Jack testifies in DC many people are reporting their shadowbans have been lifted. Is Twitter preparing for something or is it a coincidence they decided to remove QFD bans from people?”
With just days till @Jack testifies in DC many people are reporting their shadowbans have been lifted.
Is Twitter preparing for something or is it a coincidence they decided to remove QFD bans from people?https://t.co/ZRzme4xcLQ
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) September 2, 2018
Many former as well as current employees told the WSJ that Dorsey’s “philosophical arm’s-length leadership style” has “at times complicated decision-making,” since he manages his time between Twitter and Square Inc., the payment company he founded that produced the Cash App.
“He generally delegates to his subordinates, but at times projects stall because either no one knows what he thinks or he doesn’t pull the trigger, according to people familiar with the matter. For example, Twitter took almost two years to decide how to expand beyond its 140-character limit for tweets, a delay many employees attribute to Mr. Dorsey’s indecision.” –WSJ
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