Donald Trump is here to stay on Twitter, says CEO Jack Dorsey

Love them or hate them, the head of Twitter says the president's tweets are all just a part of an "open conversation."

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
3 min read
Donald Trump Twitter
Getty Images

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has redefined Twitter.

The US president has become a force to be reckoned with on the social media platform, dictating policy via tweets, firing off midnight missives, blocking his dissenters and redefining the diplomatic agenda (hashtag Little Rocket Man).

But while his opponents argue that Trump's behaviour on Twitter contravenes the platform's terms of service (with North Korea even interpreting his tweets as a declaration of war), the company's CEO has no plans of banning or blocking the world leader.

Speaking at a Q&A at Twitter's Australia office in Sydney on Friday, Jack Dorsey defended the role of Twitter in giving the public a direct line to their world leaders, whether they like the message or not.

"The important thing is that we hear from our leaders directly, that their thoughts are not in the dark," Dorsey said. "That they're out in the open and we can actually disagree with them, we can debate them, we can spread them if we agree with them, and we can comment.

"That is the beauty of an open conversation."

But while world leaders are increasingly using social media to reach out to their constituency, there's no doubt Trump is doing things differently. The 45th president metes out policy announcements and personal thoughts in equal measure. In short, to hear the policy, the world has to tune in for the covfefe, too. 

But for Dorsey, Trump's approach to Twitter hasn't come as much of a surprise.

"His behaviour in particular has not changed since he joined the service in the first place," Dorsey said. "It's remained consistent, so it wasn't that much of a surprise."

But the president's Twitter feed is part of a much bigger picture for the company itself. Some argue that Twitter's refusal to ban Trump for his more inflammatory tweets makes it difficult for the company to take a hard line against the trolls and abusers that plague the platform -- that he is essentially using Twitter like a "bully pulpit."

However, Twitter has long defended the "newsworthiness" of what Trump says. In short, because it's coming from the mouth (or thumbs) of the president, it should be heard.

Regardless, some of Trump's opponents have had a small win on Twitter this week. On Wednesday, a US federal judge ruled that the president's move to block certain followers on Twitter was a First Amendment issue that ultimately violated the users' constitutional rights.

But what does that mean for the platform as a whole? It's still too early to tell, Dorsey says. That, or he's keeping his cards close to his chest. 

"I'm not sure yet," he said. "I've only had the time to really look at the headlines and so our team is still looking at everything. But I definitely think it's interesting.

"It shows that as we build these new technologies, we enable new behaviours and those new behaviours need to be questioned and they need to be understood and, in some cases, pushed back on." 

'Hello, humans': Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet.

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.