For the first time, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has described his “complicated” feelings about the US president-elect Donald Trump’s use of the social media service.
Speaking at the Code Commerce conference in California, Dorsey demurred when asked if he felt responsible for Trump’s election. “America is responsible for Donald Trump being president,” he said, before conceding that, more than any other candidate, Trump excelled in his use of Twitter.
“He’s known how to use it for quite some time. I think it’s an important time for the company and service. And having the president-elect on our service, using it as a direct line of communication, allows everyone to see what’s on his mind in the moment. I think that’s interesting. I think it’s fascinating. I haven’t seen that before.
“We’re definitely entering a new world where everything is on the surface and we can all see it in real time and we can have conversations about it. Where does that go? I’m not really sure. But it’s definitely been fascinating to learn from.”
Asked how he felt about Trump’s use of the service, Dorsey said: “Complicated”.
“I feel very proud of the role of the service and what it stands for and everything that we’ve done, and that continues to accelerate every single day. Especially as it’s had such a spotlight on it through his usage and through the election.”
More than any other social network, Twitter has taken a stand against the surge of far-right activity that followed Donald Trump’s victory. A few days after the election, the company announced a host of new safety features, including a crackdown on hate speech and a renewed focus on training its moderators to better react to threats of violence and hateful conduct.
“The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment seen across the internet has risen sharply over the past few years,” Twitter said at the time. “In the worst cases, this type of conduct threatens human dignity, which we should all stand together to protect.”
That same day, Twitter banned a host of notable “alt-right” users, members of the far-right subculture who push a meme-filled variant of traditional white supremacist views. Banned accounts included that of Richard B Spencer, a white nationalist Trump supporter who hosted a conference last month where supporters gave Nazi salutes.
While Twitter has received praise from some for taking action, the move has also raised difficult questions for the company: what would it do if the president-elect tweeted views that his supporters have been banned from the network for expressing?