In an interview today Twitter’s Jack Dorsey addressed ‘misinformation’ on his social media platform and discussed ways of combating it with items such as labeling and interstitials. He was referring primarily to spam, bots, and deep fakes. He noted that Twitter is working on an experiment to label misleading tweets with broader contextual information.
But then he was asked specifically about Trump and his tweets, with the interviewer, named ‘Mero’, asking if it was possible to “ban Trump for a month” over misleading or dangerous tweets.
Dorsey responded saying this is where labeling and interstitials could be used:
Below is a transcript:
MERO: So like speaking of misinformation and disinformation…like, maybe ban Trump for like a month? Or something like that? I dunno, maybe? Is that something that’s even crossed anybody’s mind over there or is it just like ‘we’re not getting into politics stuff, like you guys figure it out amongst yourselves’? Because in this situation, I feel like if he’s just spouting off and saying all types of wild stuff, obviously that falls under the guidelines of the app. But when you’re spreading misinformation and stuff, like COVID, that’s potentially harmful. Like is there any ramifications for this dude or does it just get to cook?
JACK DORSEY: You’re breaking up a little bit but I think you’re speaking to Trump’s tweets and misleading information. That’s where I think labeling will come in really handy. We have seen other global leaders around the world spread potentially harmful, misleading information as well and have interstitialed those tweets. One of the reasons we interstitial is because we do believe these tweets are in the public interest. People can engage with these directly and talk with them directly. When it’s broadcast on television you have no ability to talk back. When it’s on twitter, you do have the ability to reply, the ability to quote tweet and add your own opinion and point of view on top of it. And we believe that’s important.
We also recognize that when these tweets go out, people are screenshotting them, they are putting them on television, they’re putting them on websites, they’re tweeting them themselves. So, the cat’s already out of the bag. Anything we can do to interstitial a lot of this and provide context that is credible, that might show a disagreement or a debate around the topic, I think will be helpful. That’s some of the work we’re busy doing right now.
Dorsey is then asked how the company handles Trump’s tweets, whether he’s notified when Trump tweets and has to make a decision on them. He responded by noting that rarely ever do these kind of tweets rise to his level. Rather, he reveals that it is Twitter’s policy team that reviews reports on tweets, made by Twitter users, and then decides whether to take action. You can watch the rest of the interview to hear him discuss that answer.
I should note that Democrats have been putting pressure on Twitter to ban Trump over tweets he’s made in the past. For example:
“These are blatant threats. We need a civil society, not a civil war.” pic.twitter.com/4jlwDVfH61
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) October 2, 2019
I think it’s fair to say this should be viewed in that context. Dorsey suggested in the interview that they are trying to roll this out as quickly as possible and with this being an election year, this is all very concerning.