But for the many journalists and commentators who have been threatened, harassed, abused and had their personal information shared on the platform with no response from Dorsey and no help from the site, Dorsey’s apology to Owens felt like a middle finger.
In an interview with Dorsey published Thursday, HuffPost’s Ashley Feinberg asked him directly why he apologized to Owens, but has yet to take any meaningful action on the trolling and online harassment that journalists deal with regularly.
“I apologized because we generally shouldn’t be categorizing people,” Dorsey said. “Our curation team should not be using our descriptions to categorize people.”
Feinberg asked why it was incorrect to label Owens as “far-right” in the first place, when her comments and views generally align with that description. For example, in August, after college student Mollie Tibbetts was murdered by an undocumented immigrant, Owens used Tibbetts’ murder to call for stronger border control. She has consistently defended the National Rifle Association, and denies climate science and global warming. She also called the Me Too movement “stupid” in June, and supported the conspiracy theory that the explosive packages sent to the Clintons, the Obamas and George Soros in October were sent by other Democrats.
“We need to be descriptive as part of our curation guidelines, descriptive of what happened,” Dorsey said. “Like, our whole role in that is to find the interesting tweets that show a story from all perspectives. The moment that we inject any sort of categorization, we’ve lost that promise.”
As for Twitter’s failure to address rampant harassment on the site ― often aimed at journalists ― Feinberg pressed him.
“A lot of people — myself included — were frustrated to see that because, for instance, if someone tweets out our home address or phone number, it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not Twitter is going to do anything about it,” she said.
Something like doxing is “unacceptable,” Dorsey said. But he clarified that his apology to Owens was for a supposed mistake Twitter made ― unlike harassment coming from Twitter users.
“Someone doxing someone else on the platform and us missing it is a huge miss for us, and we should correct it as quickly as possible,” he said. “But we took something and broadcast it to everyone, everyone on the service, in a way that was against our guidelines.”