A look at Jack Dorsey’s abysmal record on free speech as Twitter head

Upon examining Dorsey’s and Twitter’s history with content manipulation, a different reality emerges, casting doubt on the sincerity of the ex-CEO’s concerns about free speech.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 13 June, 2023 10:46 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s startling revelations about the Indian government’s threats to shut down the social media platform in the country has become a political flashpoint back home.

During an interview with Breaking Points, Dorsey disclosed that the government had made numerous requests concerning the farmers’ protests and critical journalists, resorting to tactics such as threats, raids on Twitter employees’ homes, and even the closure of Twitter offices if their demands were not met.

Upon examining Dorsey’s and Twitter’s history with content manipulation, a different perspective emerges, which raises questions about the sincerity of the ex-CEO’s concerns about free speech. Additionally, their apparent bias in favor of left-wing content is widely acknowledged.

In 2018, Dorsey, along with Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Legal head, visited India and held meetings with prominent figures like Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The controversy surrounding their visit stemmed from additional meetings with left-wing activists and journalists, with a photograph capturing Dorsey holding a “Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy” poster, which sparked further outrage.

Gadde, as Twitter’s top legal officer, faced accusations of suppressing conservative voices in the US and in India and censoring the Hunter Biden laptop scoop. She oversaw Twitter’s decisions to remove political ads and suspend Donald Trump’s account after the Capitol Hill attack, which triggered hate speech on the platform. Gadde was also accused of blacklisting COVID vaccine side effect information.

READ MORE: Elon Musk cautions US against selective targeting of Trump

Elon Musk’s Twitter files shed light on these matters when he took over in October 2022.

READ MORE: INTERVIEW | Twitter Files vindicate our stand on how journalists, analysts, politicians were censored: Lawyer who dragged Vijaya-Parag to courtroom

During the peak of the farmers’ protest in February 2021, Twitter withheld around 250 accounts, citing “fake, intimidatory, and provocative tweets” using the hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide. Many accounts were later restored, leading to a government warning of legal consequences.

READ MORE: ‘Outright lie’: India slams ex-Twitter boss for farmer stir censorship claim

Twitter defended itself, stating it wouldn’t block media, journalists, activists, or politicians, claiming the orders were inconsistent with Indian laws. The platform also received a notice for labeling tweets by BJP leaders as “manipulated media”.

The Indian government has been engaged in a prolonged battle with Twitter over compliance with IT laws. Several Indian celebrities, including Kangana Ranaut, known for her right-wing views, were arbitrarily removed from the platform. However, recent Indian laws make it challenging for intermediaries to ban social media users.

New IT laws make it difficult for intermediaries to block Indian social media users.

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