Twitter explains why it isn’t banning Alex Jones from the platform

8 Aug 2018

Twitter open on an iPhone 6. Image: Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, has defended the firm’s decision to continue to publish tweets from Alex Jones.

Earlier this week, a group of large tech firms took action against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Platforms such as YouTube, Spotify and Apple removed podcasts and other content following ban circumventions and hate speech violations by Jones. Meanwhile, Twitter has allowed his account to remain active.

An Apple spokesperson cited the company’s clear hate speech guidelines and added that, while it is happy to represent a wide range of views, respect towards people with differing opinions is crucial.

Twitter offers an explanation

The company continues to allow Jones to remain on the site and he is using his verified Twitter account to decry the so-called ‘censorship’ he and Infowars are experiencing.

The argument put forth is that the content posted by Infowars and Jones to other platforms is different to the content posted by Jones to Twitter itself.

Basically, Jones is not in violation of Twitter’s content terms of service on the platform in isolation. This is notable as, last year, Twitter made the decision to take off-platform behaviour into account.

Jack Dorsey responds

CEO Jack Dorsey said Twitter was going to promote a “healthy conversational environment”.

He added: “We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.

“If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.”

Dorsey placed the responsibility of policing Jones’ account on journalists, as opposed to the company itself: “Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalise issues and spread unsubstantiated rumours, so it’s critical journalists document, validate and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions.”

The CEO also pointed users to a document containing further details on the company rules: “Twitter is reflective of real conversations happening in the world and that sometimes includes perspectives that may be offensive, controversial and/or bigoted.”

The document continued: “While we welcome everyone to express themselves on our service, we prohibit targeted behaviour that harasses, threatens, or uses fear to silence the voices of others.”

LinkedIn, Pinterest and MailChimp have also removed Jones from their services.

Twitter open on an iPhone 6. Image: Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects