CNN’s senior media reporter, Oliver Darcy, is questioning why Twitter still allows right-wing commentator Alex Jones to have a voice on its platform.
On Thursday, Darcy began tweeting about some of the content that Alex Jones has put up on Twitter. You can read his thread here:
Darcy also wrote a short post explaining his position. You can read that article here.
Darcy’s point is pretty simple, really. As of now, Twitter is the only major platform that still allows Alex Jones to publish. Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify have all banned Jones. You can read more about those bans here.
But Twitter still allows Alex Jones and Infowars to put up content. Why?
In an interview with Sean Hannity, the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, talked about the importance of balancing free speech with protections against “bad actors”. Dorsey explained that Twitter places tremendous importance on allowing free speech — and, he said, “We do not shadow ban according to political ideology, viewpoint, or content. We take behaviors as signals. And these signals evolve minute by minute. These are not scarlet letters. These are models that are looking at behaviors. Behaviors of bad faith actors who intend to manipulate the conversation.” You can hear Dorsey’s full interview here.
Twitter Says They Know All About Infowars’ Content — But Says Infowars Still Did Not Violate Twitter’s Policies
On Wednesday, Twitter’s Vice President for Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, sent out a message to staff explaining the company’s position on Alex Jones and Infowars. You can read the full message here.
Harvey explains that Twitter’s policies have been constantly evolving. Yes, Harvey says, Alex Jones did post what she calls “inflammatory and reprehensible content” on Twitter, like Jones’ claims that Sandy Hook victims were “crisis actors.” But, Harvey says, at the time, that content didn’t violate Twitter’s rules. She says that Twitter’s policies have been constantly evolving. At the time that the “inflammatory” material was posted, she says, “we hadn’t evolved our harassment policies to include these sorts of accusations.”
Harvey says that, if Jones were to post the claims about Sandy Hook victims now, he would be in violation of Twitter’s terms of service. But since he posted the content before Twitter had updated its policy, Twitter won’t punish him for it. Harvey says, “If he were to post similar accusations today, we would take action on them; if people report past content of his that includes those types of accusations, we would require him to remove it but would not further penalize him as we work to avoid retroactive applications of our policy.”
CNN Contacted Twitter to Complain About Some of the Infowars Content on the Site
On Wednesday, Oliver Darcy contacted Twitter to let them know that “content that prompted other tech companies to take action against InfoWars/Jones was on Twitter.” Darcy didn’t ask Twitter to ban Alex Jones, in so many words. But Darcy appears to be pointing to what he sees as an inconsistency in Twitter’s behavior.
On Wednesday, Twitter’s Vice President for Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, sent out a message to staff explaining the company’s position on free speech and Infowars. You can read that message in full, here. Harvey says that Twitter hasn’t banned Infowars because they haven’t posted the same kind of offensive content on Twitter as they have on, say, Facebook. And Harvey says that if Infowars posted that kind of content, they would be banned.
Now, CNN and Darcy are highlighting the fact that, in their view, Infowars has posted the very same content on Twitter as they have on Facebook.
All day, Darcy has been carefully tracking what’s happened to the Infowars content that he highlighted to Twitter. As of this morning, he said, there had been no removal.
Then, in late afternoon, he said that someone had taken down the content:
A little later, he said, he had learned that Twitter itself hadn’t removed the content — it had been taken down by someone else with access to the content: