Donald Trump met the boss of Twitter: a deaf dialogue

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A photo of Donald Trump's Twitter account, April 18th.
A photo of Donald Trump's Twitter account, April 18th. EVA HAMBACH / AFP

Customer service is customized. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, went to the White House Tuesday, April 23 at the invitation of Donald Trump. The US president holds one of the most important accounts of the social network (@realDonaldTrump, 59.9 million subscribers) and uses it continually to share his moods, spread political statements, thank his supporters, attack his opponents or conspire some press titles.

But despite the aura he has, Donald Trump does not seem to be a satisfied user. The tenant of the White House is a regular criticism against the social network, which he again accused, Tuesday, to participate in "A political game" which would aim to diminish its reach on the platform. He had already made these accusations before, in the tradition of some Republicans who accused the major digital platforms to favor the Democrats through choices of moderation and settings.

"They do not treat me well as a Republican. […] Constantly delete accounts. Heavy complaints from many people », Donald Trump wrote on Twitter a few hours before their meeting.

"Super meeting"

A few hours later, the differences seemed settled. "Super meeting at the White House with @jack @Twitter. Many topics discussed about their platform and the world of social networks in general. Look forward to keeping the dialogue open " posted Donald Trump after his interview:

Jack Dorsey, one of Twitter's creators in 2006, responded directly to him: " Thank you for your time. Twitter exists to serve all public conversations, and we want to make them healthier and more courteous. Thank you for the conversation on the subject. "

Observers will soon have pointed out the irony of the situation: that of the CEO of a social network that speaks online courtesy with one of its most prestigious members, but also regularly authoring violent protests and tweets issues.

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For example, on 12 April, Muslim Democrat Elect Ilhan Omar received many death threats on Twitter after Donald Trump posted a video montage in which controversial statements by the 9/11 woman were images of twin towers on fire. A tweet immediately denounced as a "Incitement to violence" from the president. Meanwhile, Twitter decided to leave certain death threats against Ilhan Omar online, according to them, according to them, an investigation.

After meeting with the US President, Jack Dorsey repeats a line of communication developed by Twitter for over a year, according to which the number one goal of the social network is to "Make the conversation healthier". Yet one can still blame Twitter, in bulk: its permissive rules of use in terms of freedom of expression; sub-calibrated moderation teams; an operation that promotes short and emotional messages; multiple cases where Internet users have harassed, insulted, spread hatred or violence, without being worried, except in the event of complaint to victims in court.

In France, the social network is thus taken as an example by the MP Laetitia Avia, which carries a bill to fight hatred on the Internet, as a space where moderation procedures are ineffective. At the end of 2018, Amnesty International also sounded the alarm by proving that Twitter remained a "A space where racism, misogyny and homophobia flourish unimpeded".

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"Twittanic"

So far, Jack Dorsey's failure to reshape Twitter's operation and philosophy is even glaring, even though the latest results released by the company on Tuesday, April 23 reassured stock market investors (the number of daily users who can see ads on Twitter now amounting to 134 million, against 120 million in 2018 at the same time).

But at a recent TED conference transcribed alarmistically by the magazine WiredJack Dorsey mostly responded with sighs, or some non-concrete language, to one of the speakers who explained the reasons for the "Twittanic" ongoing, from the point of view of many users regretting the violence and abuse allowed by the social network.

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Are these problematic behaviors of Internet users, and the changes or reflections to operate on subjects as thorny and delicate as the conditions of freedom of expression on the Internet, were evoked by Donald Trump and Jack Dorsey during their interview? We will not know it, the content of their discussion being private. A spokesman for Twitter only said after the appointment: "They discussed the fact that Twitter is committed to protecting the quality of public debate ahead of the 2020 US elections."

According to Washington Post, quoting an anonymous source, part of the exchanges rather concerned the concerns of Donald Trump face … the decrease in the number of subscribers. Jack Dorsey was able to reassure him, however, and explain to him, still according to the Washington Post, that it did not target him directly as a "Republican", and that it was the effects of the last cleansing operations, operated by Twitter since 2018to massively delete spam or inactive accounts.

"Reduce the burden"

These Twitter purges are, moreover, part of the axes put forward by the social network in its fight against abusive behavior. While Facebook is happy to announce the support of its human moderation teams, Twitter explains more how its software now automatically trains to locate and delete problematic accounts and messages.

"We have taken a more proactive approach to reducing abuse, explained Jack Dorsey Tuesday during his press conference accompanying the publication of quarterly results. We are reducing the burden on victims and trying to take action, where possible, before these abuses are reported. "

The answer of President Trump was however clear: clean Twitter, okay, provided to keep intact its strike force on the social network, built on impulsive or violent tweets. The posture even tends, ironically, to weaken Twitter's early progress in moderation, touted by Jack Dorsey on the fight against false accounts.

Both tweets posted by @realDonaldTrump and @jack may be enthusiastic: they especially confirm that no primer "Structural change" promised by Twitter for over a year is still in sight.

Michael Szadkowski

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