A day after Twitter gave right-wing conspiratorialist Alex Jones a week-long timeout, CEO Jack Dorsey is mulling deeper changes to the social media service that might limit the spread of fake news, misinformation and hate speech.
Twitter joined other prominent tech companies in muzzling Jones, the founder of the Infowars site, who has used Twitter and other social outlets to spread false information. Twitter had resisted the move despite public pressure, but the holdout lasted less than two weeks.
“They seem to be reacting to the backlash they received when so many other companies in Silicon Valley ended up taking action,” said Keegan Hankes, research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, who focuses on far right extremist propaganda online. “It’s illustrative of a broader trend of reactive enforcement” by the companies, he added.
Then on Wednesday, Dorsey told the Washington Post that he is exploring changes to core elements of Twitter’s service that could promote alternative perspectives in its timeline. The move could address falsehoods, conspiracy theories and other misinformation, and might also reduce online “echo chambers,” in which users are exposed mostly to viewpoints they already agree with.
The CEO said the “most important thing that we can do” is to revisit the incentives Twitter uses to shape how people behave on the service. “Because they do express a point of view of what we want people to do — and I don’t think they are correct anymore,” he said Twitter later confirmed Dorsey’s comments.