Some hours ago, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted about the recent ban of some crazy old guy who has used Twitter to spout racist bull and conspiracy theories, mostly uncontested, for more than a decade:
(click through to read the whole thread!)
While there are some tiny bits of truth scattered across this thread, there's also several key statements where @jack completely misses the point. For example, there's this gem:
I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation.
You don't say! They say that "a fault confessed is half redressed" - but this is more than just a bit too little, too late. If the twice-impeached guy in the White House had currently started with his bigotry, you might have had a point - but exactly this unregulated Twitter feed and its repercussions in your own country and around the globe have been part of the public conversation for at least the last four years and probably more. You don't have any right to suddenly grow balls and a conscience and claim that "Oops, apparently this hasn't been a healthy conversation all along!". You knew better, so at least don't act all surprised now that it finally catches up to you.
Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation.
Here's the point, though. The main problem is not that "the public conversation gets fragmented". The problem is that public conversation has become too centralized to begin with, thanks to platforms like yours. The problem is that whatever happens on your platform is not just any old "public conversation" if it puts a few guys on a global loudspeaker, drowning out everyone else.
Just some decades ago, if someone wanted to make a complete ass of himself, he could grab a box and walk over to the nearest Speaker's Corner. There, he would meet a limited number of people actively looking to debate stuff and tell him why he's wrong. He could also go to the nearest pub and ramble to his three drunk friends about who should be locked up and why. Reach: basically none, and rightfully so.
Just over one decade ago, his best bet would have been to host his own blog somewhere in the depths of the World Wide Web, and hope to attract more like-minded lunatics than people making fun of him while trolling and/or DDOSing his self-hosted comment section. Reach: some, but not excessively so.
What all of this boils down to is that, simply speaking, for the best part of history public conversation was fragmented in a way that balanced someone's reach to potential supporters with his reach to opponents - and even more importantly his opponents reach to his supporters.
Your and your competitors' platforms actively worked on removing this fragmentation, without at the same time thinking through (or perhaps even deliberately ignoring the result of that thought process) what could happen in a global echo chamber. This one is, at least in part, on you!
The check and accountability on this power has always been the fact that a service like Twitter is one small part of the larger public conversation happening across the internet. If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service.
Now that is just utter bollocks. Your power of having the largest stage in the world, with the best sound system and lighting, is checked and balanced by someone being able to not use that stage in the first place but just grab the slightly broken megaphone and scream at the top of his lungs elsewhere? I don't even know what more to say regarding this. It's stupid, and I'm sure you know better.
This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.
Just to clarify: Do you really believe that your centralized platform is part of and a good addition to "the open internet?" 😲