The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, sat down with Sean Hannity today for a rare interview. You can listen to the full audio of their coversation here.
Hannity, a self-confessed “free speech purist,” grilled Dorsey about Twitter’s free speech policies and about the measures that Twitter has taken against hate speech and extremist groups. The interview comes just a few days after Facebook, YouTube, and other media platforms have moved to ban the controversial Alex Jones. You can read more about that ban here. Twitter is one of the only platforms that has not banned Alex Jones and Infowars.
Dorsey told Hannity that Twitter “believes in the power of free expression” but stressed that Twitter is vigilant against “trolls” because, Dorsey said, trolls “silence speech, and they silence voices.”
I Know Those Other Guys Are Hiding Under Their Desks, Said Hannity, Thanking Dorsey For Appearing On His Show
Hannity repeatedly thanked Dorsey for appearing on the show and for taking his questions. “I know those other guys are hiding under their desks,” Hannity said, in a reference to executives from Facebook, YouTube, and other companies which recently banned Alex Jones, and which have evidently been reluctant to give interviews about their actions.
Hannity hinted that — it seems to him — conservative media is getting banned from various social media platforms, while liberal media is not. He singled Dorsey and Twitter out for praise because, he said, Twitter is one of the only platforms that has not banned Alex Jones and Infowars. And he also praised Dorsey for appearing on his show and taking questions.
Hannity called himself a “free speech purist” who believes in the value of free speech, even when that speech is hurtful. He admitted that he has taken a lot of criticism and abuse on social media over the years, but he said that, on the whole, he still believes in the absolute importance of free speech.
In a rueful acknowledgement that he isn’t popular with many liberal social media users, Hannity asked Dorsey whether anyone had ever suggested banning him (Hannity) from Twitter. “I’ve never gotten that request,” Dorsey replied.
Dorsey Insists That Twitter Never Bans Users Based on Politics or Content
Dorsey said — as he has said before — that Twitter never engages in “shadow banning” based on politics. Hannity dropped some hints about how it seems that only conservatives are being banned from social media. But Dorsey insisted that, at least on Twitter, nobody is getting banned based on the content of what they say.
Instead, Dorsey said, Twitter decides whether to ban people based on their behavior, and based on the way they interact with other users. 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.”
Dorsey stressed that “bad actors,” or “trolls,” can ruin the social media experience for everyone, by taking over conversations and unfairly dominating debates.