Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has revealed that he had to email Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to get accusations of pedophilia removed from the social network.
Wales, who was giving evidence in the British Parliament to a joint committee on the proposed Online Safety Bill, said his attempts to report the allegations using Twitter’s standard reporting system failed. Instead, he ended up using his personal relationship with Dorsey to get the tweets removed.
“Someone said something horrific about me, accusing me of terrible crimes – pedophilia – which were posted on Twitter,” said Wales, adding the allegations were “very specific”.
“I, like anybody would, reported it to Twitter and a few hours later I got a message saying we’re looking into it,” said Wales, but he later he received a message saying “we don’t see anything here that’s a violation”.
It was at this point that Wales leaned on his personal relationship with Dorsey. “I’m in a very privileged position because I know Jack Dorsey and several members of the [Twitter] board. And so I emailed Jack and he said ‘don’t worry, we will take care of this. I said ‘not really my point, Jack!’”
Breaking terms of service?
Wales, who was discussing how social media companies should be regulated with the British politicians, then revealed that he was subject to further allegations of the same nature.
“So, I emailed [the Twitter moderation team], and… actually got into quite a good discussion with some people from content moderation, and it actually isn’t against their terms of service, despite what I view as the plain language of it.”
Wales claimed that Twitter’s rationale was that the Me Too movement “has shown that people need a voice to make accusations against people in positions of power”.
He added that the Twitter moderation team argued that “if a minor actress no one has ever heard of begins posting about what Harvey Weinstein did to her 15 years ago, can he just email, Twitter and get that taken down?”
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The Wikipedia founder told the committee that “I don’t agree with the way Twitter does it, but I also acknowledge that what they’re faced with is a very complicated and difficult problem”.
Wales later went on to suggest that trusted users could be used to moderate content on social networks, in a similar way to how Wikipedia content is moderated.
The draft Online Safety Bill imposes a “duty of care” on social media companies, which could force them to remove content that isn’t illegal, but is considered “harmful content”. Campaigners argue that the proposed legislation, which has yet to pass through the British parliament, could give rise to censorship and harm free speech.