In his second appearance on Joe Rogan’s “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was taken to task by independent journalist Tim Pool during a sprawling 3.5 hour interview over Twitter’s record of systematically targeting and punishing conservatives for politically strident speech (remember, Dorsey spent part of a House Committee hearing last year explaining why Twitter is politically objective, bias-free platform).
Early in the interview, Pool pushed Dorsey and Twitter legal policy chief Vijaya Gadde to explain why they ban and censor accounts who “deadname” or “misgender” trans people on Twitter.
At a high level, Twitter’s policy is designed toward making sure “everybody has a voice and is able to use it”…but where they draw the line is when people try to use their platform to “abuse and silence” others.
But when Pool said he was physically threatened on twitter, by members of antifa and during his trip to Venezuela, the company did nothing…but it seemingly jumps to suspend, ban or censor anyone who misgenders or deadnames a trans person.
“Why does it always feel like your policies are going one direction politically…
…like when Antifa doxxed a bunch of law enforcement agents…and since September, this tweet is still live.”
“The guy who threatened the lives of Covington students…you did nothing.”
But..but…Gadde said it’s “very rare” that we will “outright suspend” someone (which as Pool pointed out, is ridiculous on its face). For example, when Kathy Griffen demanded to know the names of the Covington students, Twitter said they didn’t consider that “doxxing” because names are public information. However, if Twitter had determined that the tweet was intended to further the doxxing of the students, then it would have taken action. In that example, Twitter may have made an error.
“The biggest issue with our system is all the burden is placed on the victim…we only act when something is reported…”
But if something is reported does a human examine it eventually? Well, not necessarily, Dorsey says. Twitter ranks violations in terms of severity.
During Covington, Pool said, one user said he wanted his followers to go and kill these kids…and he wasn’t banned, despite all the attention they received so much attention from conservative media outlets.
Twitter responded by saying that the tweets were deleted, even though the action taken may not have been what Pool wanted to happen (presumably, being banned form the platform like Twitter has done to numerous conservative personalities like Alex Jones for tweeting something much more mild.
They quickly arrived at the subject of Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned for – as Pool put it – “being mean to someone” (SNL comedian Leslie Jones).
“Here we have someone verified with over 201k followers who’s inciting violence against these kids…the reaction was to delete those tweets…then you have someone like Alex Jones who berates a CNN reporter and gets permanently banned.”
Milo’s three strikes, according to Twitter, were (a. impersonating a Buzzfeed reporter (for which Milo’s verification was removed), b. doxxing someone (posting private information about an individual c. tweeting “a threat” – Milo said “if you were my child I would have dashed your head on a rock” – then, the final straw, was the bullying messages about Leslie Jones, including posting fake tweets purportedly sent by Jones that included racist messages.
“But it’s possible that he didn’t know they were fake?” Rogen said. “It’s possible…” But Gadde said he was alerted to the fact the messages were fake and acknowledged it.
Even Rogan admitted that “what you’re saying [about Milo] doesn’t sound that bad”…“the fact that Milo has been banned while the guy who said ‘throw these kids into the woodchipper’ is still out there doesn’t sound fair.”
Chuck Johnson was permanently banned for saying he was planning to publish something to “take out” BLM activist Deray McKesson – when it was clear that Johnson wasn’t explicitly threatening violence.
To this, Twitter answered with the verbal equivalent of the shrug emoji, saying only that they do the best they can and sometimes they make mistakes. Though they reiterated that they would be happy to follow up, and reemphasized that they don’t ban people for “one thing” – but only for a pattern of harassment.
Pool then dropped the hammer: Twitter is a biased platform in favor of the left. Conservatives don’t agree with you on the subject of misgendering. And those people get banned.
Gadde and Dorey responded that plenty of people on the left think Twitter isn’t doing nearly enough to hold conservatives accountable.
Recently, Pool reported a threatening message where one user tried to incite violence against him when he was covering a rally in Berkeley. And Twitter did nothing – even though he reported it.
Again, “that’s a mistake.”
Then Pool got to the marquee topic of the night: The banning of Alex Jones (which followed Dorsey and Gadde denying that they don’t ban people because of PR pressure).
Dorsey pointed out that Twitter didn’t take action against Jones until after Apple, Facebook, Spotify and other tech companies had acted. Then, suddenly, Twitter found that dozens of people were reporting Jones’s content. After this, Jones quickly racked up his ‘three strikes’, and was banned. They were: A video of a child being thrown to the ground and crying, another video that Twitter considered to be “incitement of violence” and, finally, a verbal altercation that Jones got into with a journalist, where there were a number of harassing statements made by Jones – “having the eyes of the rat” and being “just scum” – that triggered the ban.
The conversation soon got heated, as Pool started pressing Gadde and Dorsey about Twitter’s pattern of targeting conservatives much more frequently than liberals and leftists.
In case after case, “the guy who calls for death gets a suspension…the guy who insinuates death gets a permanent ban.”
While Gadde accused Pool of cherrypicking examples, Pool pointed to a recent report by Quillette which found that the vast majority of high profile bannings targeted conservatives, when liberals and leftists frequently spout hateful and harrassing speech.
“And you have a pattern and practice of banning only one faction of people.”
But Twitter doesn’t look at their political affiliation when they’re deciding when to ban people.
The conversation continued for several hours after this point. For much of the time, Twitter’s obligation to uphold free speech on its platform remained the focus, with Pool even suggesting at one point that lawmakers would be justified if they tried to hold Twitter accountable.
In one of the most illuminating clips from the interview, Pool pointed out that Twitter spends more time restricting the speech of American citizens than combating disinformation spread by foreign governments trying to interfere in elections – so long as those foreign governments play by Twitter’s rules.
Several Twitter wits claimed the highlight of the interview was watching the obvious frustration creeping into the facial expression of twitter’s head of PR.
Others just celebrated what was generally regarded as a major win for Pool and free-speech advocates on twitter.
Pool’s overarching view is simple and fact-backed: the implicit bias in the social media will (has already) force people who hold non-standard, ‘accepted’ views (as defined by the algos and people behind the technology giants) into ever darker corners of the web and the endgame is already apparent – a second civil war (which Pool admits may not look like the first one, but will be just as damaging to the social fabric of America).
Anybody who didn’t catch it live can watch the full 3.5 hour interview below (it wrapped up at around 6:30 pm ET):
And if the interview left you wanting to hear more from Pool, he’ll be joining Dave Rubin for a follow-up interview on Wednesday, starting at 3 pm PT.