Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was reluctant to ban President Donald Trump’s account, and only acted after his team said that Trump’s tweets were inspiring calls for violence among his supporters on Parler, according to a new report.
As well, anxious Twitter employees compared the situation to IBM’s work for the Nazis during World War II, pleading with him to ban Trump.
Dorsey was working remotely a private island in French Polynesia on January 6 when Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, and his top lieutenants pushed to suspend the president’s account, according to an account in the New York Times.
Twitter was the first social media company to act against Trump after the Capitol riot, locking his account for 12 hours before ultimately issuing the permanent ban. Facebook, its subsidiary Instagram, and Snapchat quickly followed suit with indefinite bans.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was reluctant to ban President Donald Trump’s account, and only acted after his team said that Trump’s tweets were inspiring calls for violence
Twitter was the first social media company to act against Trump after the Capitol riot, locking his account for 12 hours before ultimately issuing the permanent ban
How did IBM help Nazis during WWII?
Both the U.S. government and Nazi Germany used IBM punch-card technology for some parts of their internment camp operations and record keeping.
IBM’s German subsidiary was accused of helping with records at Nazi concentration camps.
IBM says its German operation, along with those of other foreign companies, was effectively seized by the Nazis during the war.
According to the Times, Dorsey signed off on the permanent ban after two of Trump’s January 8 tweets were seen to be inspiring radical responses among his supporters.
In one of the tweets, Trump said that he would not attend the presidential inauguration on January 20. In another, he called his supporters ‘great American Patriots’ and said they would ‘have a GIANT VOICE’ in the future.
The tweets were not explicit calls for violence, but Twitter’s safety team monitored the response on alternative social networking site Parler, which is popular among right-wingers, and told Dorsey that Trump’s supporters had seized on Trump’s latest tweets.
One Twitter employee saw a Trump fan on Parler urge militias to stop President-elect Joe Biden from entering the White House and to fight anyone who tried to halt them, according to the Times.
Twitter’s safety team alluded to the two Trump tweets in a public blog post about the ban, saying that they ‘were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.’
Many Twitter employees had long called for Trump to be banned from the platform, but Dorsey was reluctant to take such a step.
Dorsey signed off on the permanent ban after two of Trump’s January 8 tweets were seen to be inspiring radical responses among his supporters
Dorsey had long defended the company’s policy of protecting the accounts of world leaders, arguing their public statements were newsworthy even when their tweets violated the company’s policies.
Prior to January 6, Twitter had only deleted the tweets of a world leader on two occasions, when the leaders of Brazil and Venezuela promoted fake cures for coronavirus.
Following the events of January 6, furious Twitter employees began circulating an internal petition calling anew for Trump’s ban.
Several invoked IBM’s collaboration with the Nazis, saying that history would judge Twitter in the same light, current and former employees told the Times.
Dorsey acquiesced, but his mixed feelings on the issue were apparent in a lengthy public statement he issued on January 13, saying Twitter made the ‘right decision’ but adding the ban sets a dangerous precedent.
‘Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. 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,’ Dorsey wrote.
Following its ban on Trump, Twitter broadened its crackdown last weekend, banning 70,000 accounts it said were linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which proposes that Trump is fighting an evil global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.
Twitter said in a statement it had initiated the broader bans to ‘protect the conversation on our service from attempts to incite violence, organize attacks, and share deliberately misleading information about the election outcome.’
On Thursday, Dorsey held a virtual company meeting addressing the bans, video of which was quickly leaked by an employee to the conservative activist group Project Veritas.
His message to employees appeared to be that the ban on Trump was just the beginning of a sweeping new approach to moderation.
Jack Dorsey, pictured in October testifying before Congress, held a virtual town hall this week
He told staff in the clip: ‘You should always feel free to express yourself in whatever format manifestation feels right.
‘We do intend to do the full retro as I said in my note, it is going to take some time.
‘And then the other thing, just to close out a little bit: we are focused on one account right now.
‘But this is going to be much bigger than just one account.
‘And it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, this week.
‘And the next few weeks and go on beyond the inauguration. We have to expect that, we have to be ready for that.’