Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey doubled down on his position that journalists are the primary watchdogs of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. He said in a series of recent tweets that the company, which he co-founded, “must build tools to help.”
“One of the most important constituencies we serve is our journalist population,” tweeted Dorsey. “Has been since day 1. We don’t mean to shift the work here. We must build tools to help (and need to work together to do that). We can’t be a useful service without the integrity journalists bring.”
The message comes less than a day after the exec offered an explanation as to why Twitter hadn’t followed other tech giants’ lead in jettisoning Jones from their respective platforms. Facebook and Apple pointed at their obscure and often capriciously enforced policies against “hate speech” and “bullying” as a reason for exiling Jones. Dorsey said the basis for not suspending Jones was simple enough: the digital shock jock hadn’t violated any of its rules.
Dorsey added that while “accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors,” it’s up to journalists to “document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.”
Pressure had been building for Twitter to follow its fellow Silicon Valley neighbors and ban Jones from its platform. Jones has pushed several bogus claims in his time, including that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a “hoax” and recently that Democrats were plotting a civil war. His critics, and those that applaud Facebook, Apple, and Spotify for removing his content, have argued users should be safeguarded against Jones’ podcasts and videos. But, after saying it was critical to make its platform user-friendly for journalists on Wednesday, Dorsey argued that simply counting on algorithms to weed out bad opinions was unfeasible.
“Relying on algorithms alone will not work. Not today, not tomorrow,” tweeted Dorsey. “And we know providing broader reach isn’t enough. We need to figure out how to help with economic incentives too. We’re behind on that, but thinking deeply about it. Open to great and scalable ideas.”
Whether that means hiring more moderators, a la Facebook, to review tweets remains to be seen. Twitter has already started looking for ways to improve the “health of the conversation” on its app, like pushing mean tweets to the bottom of reply threads. But punishing Jones for his wild theoris will be left to journalists and the other major tech companies for now.