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Twitter Gives a Very Bad and Unsatisfying Explanation for Why It Won’t Ban Alex Jones

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As we’ve covered, Alex Jones has been getting shown the door by a number of platforms over the last few days. Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, LinkedIn, Stitcher, Apple, and even, apparently, Pinterest, have told Jones that his hate speech and violent conspiracy theorist nonsense isn’t welcome on their sites.

Notably absent from that list, though, is Twitter. Seeing as the company has been so vocal lately about trying to curb “troll-like behaviors” and working to “reduce people’s ability to detract from healthy public conversation,” it seems like they’d be on board with banning someone who has built his career on harassing the parents of murdered children as well as teenage school shooting victims, who uses his platform to spread dangerous and hateful misinformation.

But nope. In response to users calling for Twitter to boot Jones and wondering why it has remained silent on the matter, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained last night in a series of tweets that the company won’t be banning Jones because, according to them, he hasn’t violated their terms of service.

In the thread, Dorsey says they are “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,” presumably referencing the theory that conservative voices have been getting “shadow banned” from the platform, but it’s an odd choice of words considering who we’re talking about.

“If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction,” Jack writes. “That’s not us.”

As a mystifying capper, Jack concluded that it’s the media’s job to stop dangerous men like Jones, not Twitter’s. “Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.”

TL;DR

As the CEO of a giant, influential platform, it’s totally disingenuous for Dorsey to pretend like allowing Jones to use that platform for lies and hate speech and harassment is an apolitical act. Yes, journalists play an important role in countering voices like Jones’ but Dorsey wants to ignore the role of the platform itself in allowing hate to fester and spread.

This response would be bad enough if Twitter didn’t ban accounts for far less across seemingly arbitrary lines (which they do). As is, a lot of users are calling Jack out for his feckless insincerity.

Dorsey is reportedly going to be talking with Sean Hannity about these issues, making it pretty clear which consumer base he’s trying to placate.

(image of yes, what I know is a Facebook emoji: freestocks.org from Pexels)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.