Just a few weeks ago, President Donald Trump, the most powerful man on the planet, posted an insane video on Twitter smearing freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar and connecting the Muslim Congresswoman with the 9/11 attacks. Unsurprisingly, a deluge of death threats against Omar followed.
Now, we’ve learned, thanks to a report by the Washington Post, that Omar spoke to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey by phone in the wake of the president’s tweet. On the call, Dorsey apparently refused to take the tweet down. What a nice guy!
From the Post:
Omar pressed Dorsey to explain why Twitter didn’t remove Trump’s tweet outright, according to a person familiar with the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the call was private. Dorsey said that the president’s tweet didn’t violate the company’s rules, a second person from Twitter confirmed.
Dorsey also pointed to the fact that the tweet and video already had been viewed and shared far beyond the site, one of the sources said. But the Twitter executive did tell Omar that the tech giant needed to do a better job generally in removing hate and harassment from the site, according to the two people familiar with the call.
Anyone who has ever been harassed on Twitter is familiar with this runaround. “This doesn’t violate our rules” may as well be the company’s slogan. But it’s truly remarkable to hear it deployed by the company’s actual founder to a sitting member of Congress.
Omar declined the Post’s request for comment. Twitter responded with a statement confirming the call.
“During their conversation, [Dorsey] emphasized that death threats, incitement to violence, and hateful conduct are not allowed on Twitter,” Twitter told the Post. “We’ve significantly invested in technology to proactively surface this type of content and will continue to focus on reducing the burden on the individual being targeted. Our team has also consistently been in touch with Rep. Omar’s office.”
The White House didn’t respond to the Post’s request for comment.
Dorsey went to the White House and met with Trump earlier this week, where the president apparently complained that Twitter’s attempts to root out bots on the platform had lost him followers, and accused the site of bias against conservatives. Trump and Dorsey told reporters that the meeting was productive.
Twitter has been criticized for allowing Trump to tweet threats to foreign governments and targeted harassment of individuals. The platform has repeatedly stressed that there are different standards for public figures than for regular users.
In the past few weeks, the company has said it will implement a new tool that will allow them to publicly label posts by figures like Trump that violate their terms of service. But this won’t help Omar, or anyone else who finds themselves targeted by the most powerful man on Earth on Dorsey’s platform.