Facing accusations of discriminating against conservatives on the social media platform, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in an interview to CNN has admitted that most of the employees of Twitter have a left leaning bias, but insisted their company only polices behavior, not the content, on the social networking platform. Twitter has been accused of ‘shadow banning’ conservative users. Shadow banning means the content of the user is blocked from the site, but it is not readily apparent to the user that his content is being blocked.
Dorsey said that he and his team is working extensively to weed out ‘some of the harassment and hate speech that has generated bad headlines’. However, he could not offer a timetable for certain changes in the website. He also said how the company is rethinking how follower counts and ‘likes’ on posts are displayed since the race to get more likes and followers at times leads to ‘outrageous behaviour’.
Dorsey also said how his team is trying to tackle the fake, bots and suspicious accounts and that his company is committed to having a ‘conversational health’, the quality of an exchange on Twitter. Recently, Twitter had purged fake accounts and bots and had even said that the company would suspend accounts that have been locked for suspicious behaviour.
Twitter has been under fire recently after it showed bias against right leaning accounts. Last year in November, Twitter ‘paused’ general verification of profiles and also ‘de-verified’ already verified profiles where Twitter users behaviour was not falling within the ‘new guidelines‘. One of the initial casualties of this this de-verification are Right Wing activists like Tommy Robinson, co-founder and former spokesperson of the English Defence League (EDL), a ‘street protest’ and British Nationalist movement. He left EDL in 2013 and in 2016 he set up Pegida UK, an anti-Islam organisation named after German nationalist party Pegida.
Twitter India users, especially the ones who are vocally right wing, have also been targeted. During the end of 2016, reports had started to emerge that predominantly Right Wing accounts in India were soon getting suspended after criticising the Aam Aadmi Party.
This was also noted a few months after the aforementioned report, when a popular Right Wing user was suspended allegedly for questioning Kejriwal and anti-nationals. Things became slightly more brazen when it was seen that, a total of 7 ABVP accounts were suspended by Twitter. They were reinstated only after a heavy protest.
Twitter’s arbitary policy which led to suspension of accounts of right wing Twitter users on social media has also been questioned. In March this year, Twitter started asking its users to delete their tweets which included the phrase ‘kill me’, failing which, their accounts were suspended.
Amidst all this, Twitter is constantly struggling to maintaining the balance between freedom of speech and censorship. Meanwhile, in the US, Dorsey is expected to testify next month before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the issue of Russia’s election interference, and faces a possible subpoena from the House Energy and Commerce Committee over allegations of discrimination against conservatives on the platform.