Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in on the Alex Jones controversy, overruling a decision by his staff to ban the right-wing conspiracy theorist, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Dorsey weighs in on the most high-profile cases, people described as familiar with the matter told the Journal. For instance, he reportedly instructed his employees to let alt-right provocateur Richard Spencer keep one of his Twitter accounts after the trust and safety team kicked him off the platform in 2016, the newspaper reported.
Twitter Chief Legal Officers Vijaya Gadde, who runs the teams that make such decisions, disputed the Journal's report.
"Any suggestion that Jack made or overruled any of these decisions is completely and totally false," Gadde said in a statement. "Our service can only operate fairly if it's run through consistent application of our rules, rather than the personal views of any executive, including our CEO. We know not every company takes this approach, but for a global open and public service like ours, we believe it is critical."
The social network ultimately gave Jones a weeklong time-out last month after finding the content of some of his tweets violated Twitter's policy. The Inforwars founder and host has been widely criticized for promoting untrue, virulent hypotheses about tragic events, like the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York that killed nearly 3,000 people and the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 26 students and staff.
Twitter initially resisted calls to remove Infowars content. Dorsey even appeared on conservative commentator Sean Hannity's radio show before the suspension to argue that Infowars hadn't violated Twitter's rules.
"We'll enforce if he does," Dorsey said at the time. "And we'll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren't artificially amplified."
Eventually, Twitter ended up deleting some of Jones' and Infowars' posts.
The topic of who makes decisions regarding what content and which users are allowed to stay on the platform will likely come up Wednesday during Dorsey's appearance before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Executives from Facebook and Google will also appear at the hearing, which will focus on how foreign influence operations use social media to spread political propaganda.
Google, Facebook and Twitter have been addressing the issue of foreign influence campaigns that use their social media platforms to interfere in US politics. Russia, Iran and other countries have engaged in major trolling efforts.
The influence campaigns don't directly change votes, but lawmakers are concerned with how foreign propaganda affects American views on democracy and want to know what tech companies are doing to deal with the attacks.
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