Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that the company reviews real world activity when dealing with accounts of racists and hate-mongers. Some users were chilled by the prospect of being monitored offline, while others plain confused.
“We look at off-platform behavior as well. At things that aren’t just happening on Twitter, but happening on other platforms or in the real world,” Dorsey told political commentator and TV host Sean Hannity on his radio show on Wednesday.
Some users caught an Orwellian vibe to the policy and suggested it’s unacceptable for a social media platform to poke its nose in what they’re doing when not logged on.
"Jack" disclosed on Hannity today that Twitter takes into account "off-platform behavior" in its moderation decisions. So something you do IRL that has no necessary connection to Twitter can be used as justification for a Twitter ban. I'm writing a dystopian screenplay about this
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) August 9, 2018
"Harvey noted that Twitter also plans to evaluate whether the company needs to better police “off-platform behavior.”
Twitter want to become your social media platform & your mom. What could possibly go wrong? https://t.co/J8HuCy35J5
— IT Guy (@ITGuy1959) August 9, 2018
Lol fuck Twitter if they start down the "off-platform" behavior path.
All the social media companies are stuck in a rut and losing daily active users hand over fist. This will only accelerate that trend. https://t.co/gYC5C5Q9YY
— Ethan Ralph (@TheRalphRetort) August 9, 2018
Twitter’s chief further explained that, when dealing with hate speech reports, the company’s moderators also review the users’ relevant past activities on Twitter and consider the “cultural context” of the conversation.
“We make sure all of our folks understand the cultural context of something that’s said. Because some cultural contexts enable some speech, and other cultural contexts don’t,” Dorsey stressed. He also admitted that Twitter was “terrible” at communicating its own guidelines to the public, and promised to change that. Some users agree Twitter’s own terms could use some clarity.
It’s like a Newspeak Pentecost over at Twitter. ‘Conversational Health.’ ‘Off-platform behavior.’ It’s like they’re speaking in creepy silicon tongues!
— walter kirn (@walterkirn) August 9, 2018
Ultimately, it’s up to the user to deal with offensive posts appearing in their timeline, Dorsey told Hannity – assuming it gets through Twitter’s “off-platform” filtering. “People should decide who they follow and who they want to hear from. That’s a fairly mechanical action – hitting the ‘follow’ button,” he said.
Dorsey made his comments after the company refused to fall in line with Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify who all banned controversial right-wing radio talk show host Alex Jones and his channel Infowars, citing their rules on hate speech and harassment.
In a series of tweets, Dorsey explained that Twitter won’t suspend Jones’ account because he didn’t violate the company’s policies, and highlighted the importance of the media fact-checking and debunking misinformation.