Tuesday 11 December 2018

Twitter boss admits suggestion that journalists monitor site for misinformation was 'wrong'

Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey

Martyn Landi

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey has admitted his suggestion that journalists monitor the site for misinformation was "wrong".

Mr Dorsey made the comment as debate continues around the presence on social media of figures such as Infowars's Alex Jones.

Mr Dorsey was criticised after he said conspiracy theorist Jones had not violated Twitter rules through his content and it was the responsibility of journalists to hold the Infowars host to account.

Now the social media boss has admitted his initial approach was incorrect.

Referencing a blog on the issue by Techdirt's Mike Masnick, Mr Dorsey said: "Great post and critique by @mmasnick. And agree my original suggestion around journalists was 'hamfisted' & wrong. We'd love to openly discuss and help design protocols to make decentralized policy and enforcement possible."

Earlier this week, Mr Dorsey said the social media site would not remove the conspiracy theorist because he had not yet broken any of the site's rules.

He added that while accounts such as Jones's "can often sensationalise issues and spread unsubstantiated rumours", it was vital journalists on the platform "can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumours".

The suggestion was widely criticised, with Mr Dorsey accused of trying to shift the blame away from Twitter's rule enforcement procedures.

Other technology giants, including Apple, Spotify, YouTube and Facebook had removed profiles, pages and accounts linked to Jones and Infowars, each citing their individual rules around not tolerating hate speech as the reasoning behind their decision.

But Mr Dorsey said at the time that Twitter would not take "one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term," but would instead hold his account to the same standard as every other user and continue to look at improving the "health" of public conversation on the site.

However, a CNN report has since claimed it has found multiple examples of Jones's account breaching Twitter rules.

In an email to Twitter employees that she also tweeted on Thursday, the site's head of safety Del Harvey admitted that some posts from Jones in years gone by would have violated Twitter rules if posted today, but the company's policy at the time did not cover the specific issues.

In reference to Jones's claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting was a hoax, Ms Harvey said that at the time he made them "we hadn't evolved our harassment policy to include those sort of accusations, particularly when they weren't targeted at specific individuals".

Press Association

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