Jack Dorsey Refuses to Act on Alex Jones Controversy
Jack Dorsey sparked controversy by refusing to follow suit and exclude explosive conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, from Twitter.
Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey has defended the social media company’s decision to continue allowing Alex Jones to publish controversial content on the platform; stating that he “hasn’t violated our rules“.
Jones, a renegade conspiracy theorist, pro-Trump mouthpiece and poster boy for the alt-right movement, has been embroiled in a scandal in recent weeks after he was banned from Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify for promoting hate speech. Despite the crackdown on Jones’ content, Twitter has allowed Jones to continue posting as Dorsey claimed the company valued promoting a “healthy conversational environment”.
Jones gained widespread notoriety after claiming that the parents of children murdered during the Sandy Hook school shotting were “crisis actors” – he even claimed that the school shooting was an elaborate hoax; orchestrated by the “deep state” in collusion with shadowy figures from the political left in order to degrade 5th amendment rights.
Passing the Buck?
In a series of tweets, Dorsey stated: “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.”
He added: “If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartiality regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal view that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.”
Dorsey also suggested that journalists using the social media platform have a critical role to play in tackling the rise of sensationalist, false information.
Dorsey’s comments on journalists drew heavy criticism, with claims that the platform was shifting responsibility into the hands of users. One user, James Head, said: “Jack buddy, it’s not a journalist’s job to replace your backbone.”
Other users claimed Dorsey was “passing the buck” and that Dorsey and Twitter “profit from spreading lies and then burden journalists with refuting.”
The Right Support
Supporters of Jones have claimed that his exclusion from other major media platforms amounts to censorship, and that the conspiracy theorist’s 1st amendment rights are being infringed upon by their actions. Other high-profile American conservatives and alt-right figures, such as Paul Joseph Watson, have spoken out.
Watson tweeted: “Big Tech is now working hand in hand with representatives of what Eisenhower warned Americans about nearly 60 years ago – the military-industrial complex – to close down media outlets and silence free speech.”
On Monday, Jones also received support from Donald Trump Jr, who claimed that big tech was collaborating as part of an effort to purge and censor conservative media platforms.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, Dorsey’s decision to allow Jones to stay on the platform comes down to its underlying commitment to allowing debate and discussion – regardless of the subject. Dorsey advised users to read the rules of the platform, which state: “Twitter is reflective of real conversation happening in the world and that sometimes includes perspectives that may be offensive, controversial, and/or bigoted.
“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.”
This explanation is unlikely to curb the wrath of users who claim Jones is actively fuelling hateful rhetoric in the US through baseless claims that include government conspiracies, unsubstantiated claims of paedophilia networks and CIA cover-ups.