As Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey gets ready to testify before the US Congress on September 5, reports have surfaced that he is personally weighing in on high-profile decisions to ban controversial accounts, frustrating some employees.
According to a report in Wall Street Journal on Monday, Dorsey overruled a decision by his staff to ban the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. He also reportedly “instructed his employees to let alt-right provocateur Richard Spencer keep one of his Twitter accounts after the trust and safety team kicked him off the platform in 2016”.
Twitter’s Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde, however, disputed the report. “Any suggestion that Jack made or overruled any of these decisions is completely and totally false,” Gadde was quoted as saying in a statement. Facing the heat from conservative commentators and lawmakers over alleged censoring of Republicans on Twitter, Dorsey has been called to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about algorithms and content monitoring.
According to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, “Social media platforms are increasingly serving as today’s town squares. But sadly, conservatives are too often finding their voices silenced”. “One-sided conversations are an affront to the public mission that serve as the foundations for these social media platforms — including Twitter,” he said in a statement in August.
Later, Dorsey will also testify about election security along with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and a representative from Google before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In an interview with CNN, Dorsey said Twitter needs more resources to enact rules aimed at tackling heated political rhetoric on its platform. He said Twitter did not take action against radio host Jones until reports came in, pointing out that he violated Twitter’s policies.
“As we receive reports, we take action,” Dorsey said. After facing protests on its platform, Twitter had temporarily banned the account of Jones. US President Donald Trump also tweeted about the issue. “They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen,” tweeted Trump.