Last month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sat down with comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan for a conversation about the history of the social media platform, how it handles controversy, and where it is looking to go in the future. That conversation was widely criticized for not being interesting enough, and Rogan was called out for going too soft on Dorsey in the opinion of many, especially those on the right who often claim Twitter has a left-leaning bias.
As a result, Rogan invited Dorsey back on his show, The Joe Rogan Experience, along with Vijaya Gadde, who serves as the global lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety at Twitter. Also joining in on the conversation was journalist Tim Pool, who has been critical of Twitter in the past, and was there to voice those concerns.
The conversation lasts just shy of three and a half hours, and covers a number of topics in that lengthy span of time. The subject of suspending and banning accounts came up again and again, in particular the decisions to kick Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos off the platform.
Dorsey and Gadde both said they view banning as a last resort, and don’t see it as healthy for dialogue ultimately. They shared that they are considering a reconciliation process that would allow people back on the platform after they’ve been removed permanently.
Alex Jones was removed from the platform last year, and Gadde went through what got him permanently banned.
Dorsey noted that unlike Facebook, YouTube, and others, Twitter didn’t initially kick Jones off its platform, for which it took heat, because it hadn’t found that he had violated its terms and conditions. However, eventually he was removed for doing just that, with “three separate incidents that came to our attention after the fact, that were reported to us by different users,” according to Gadde.
Those three violations were uploaded videos: One that showed a “child being violently thrown to the ground and crying,” another the company viewed as an incitement to violence against the media, and one of Jones verbally attacking a journalist.
Gay Trump supporter and professional provocateur and serial harasser Milo Yiannopoulos was booted from Twitter for a number of infractions, including going after comedian Leslie Jones after she starred in the Ghostbusters remake, including posting fake, Photoshopped tweets made to look like they came from Jones.
After Pool inaccurately claimed all Yiannpoulos had done was to be mean to someone, Gadde pulled out the receipts, including the aforementioned harassment of Jones. His other strikes included pretending to be a BuzzFeed reporter in his bio, which was considered impersonation, especially as he was at the time a verified account.
Gadde noted that he also doxed someone, sharing “private information about an individual,” and went after another person, telling them if he were their parent he would have “dashed your head on a rock and tried again.”
Deadnaming and Misgendering of Trans People
Early on in the conversation, Gadde asked if Rogan and Pool thought it would be a good idea for corporations to “police what’s true and not true?” Both said they did not, and Pool claimed that’s what the company was already engaged in by not allowing deadnaming and misgendering of transgender people.
“That’s a specific ideology that’s unique to a very small faction of people in this world that you guys actually ban people for,” Pool claimed.
Gadde and Dorsey explained that those policies are under the larger umbrella of rules against targeted harassment, which also covers people based on religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, and race, and that their goal is to create a place where as many people as possible are free to voice their opinions, instead of leaving because they feel attacked and unsafe.
“If you look at free expression, and free speech laws around the world, they’re not absolute. There’s always limitations on what you can say, and it’s always when you’re starting to endanger other people,” said Gadde.
During a debate about a perceived liberal bias, Gadde said Twitter consults with experts on issues like deadnaming, which in this case included the American Association of Pediatrics and the Human Rights Campaign. Gadde also noted the disproportionately high number of trans and gender non-conforming people who attempt suicide, compared to their cisgender peers.
Rogan said Twitter had created “a protective class,” and seemed to believe people weren’t allowed to make claims on the platform like someone can’t truly change their gender. Gadde and Dorsey corrected him, saying that it is only against policy to target harassment against individuals.
He then brought up Martina Navratilova recently saying she didn’t think transgender athletes should be allowed to compete with cisgender athletes, saying she “is being harassed” for holding that opinion. While Navratilova has apologized for calling such athletes “cheats,” she has stood by her larger message, with which Rogan said he agrees.
Navratilova has, it should be noted, not been removed from Twitter.
The conversation then moved onto Megan Murphy, a TERF who is suing Twitter for kicking her off after making transphobic tweets.
“If someone’s a trans [woman], we all agree to consider them a woman, and to think of them as a woman, to talk to them and address them with their preferred name and their preferred pronouns, but biologically this is not accurate,” Rogan argued. “So we have a divide here. We have a divide between the conservative estimation of what’s happening, and then the definition that’s the liberal definition of it.”
Gadde said she isn’t arguing people aren’t allowed to hold those views, but that they can’t use that ideology to harass other users.
Kathy Griffin and the Covington Students
Both Gadde and Dorsey admit that they’ve made mistakes in the past, and that while it is nearly impossible to curate all the content coming into Twitter, their system of leaving the work of reporting harassment and abuse on the victims is flawed and needs work.
Rogan asked about a tweet from Kathy Griffin calling for the names of the students in the Covington Catholic School viral video, for which she was not suspended.
Gadde explained that they do not consider people’s names to fit the description of doxing, but that if she had it to do again she would ask her team to take a closer look at the intention behind the tweet.
Watch the full conversation below.