Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, according to a new report from Motherboard. The meeting was prompted by the White House in emails first obtained by Motherboard and reported earlier today.
These emails said that the meeting would last 30 minutes and take place behind closed doors. A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge, “Jack had a constructive meeting with the President of the United States today at the president’s invitation. They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.”
President Trump confirmed the meeting in a tweet saying, “Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!”
For months, Twitter and other social media platforms like Facebook have faced intense scrutiny from Republicans who believe that they are being silenced online. Late last month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) chaired a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on “tech censorship” and hammered officials from Twitter and Facebook over alleged bias. Only two Democrats showed for the hearing, and Republicans spent most of their time questioning the platform officials over individual situations where they believed their speech was silenced or they were “shadowbanned,” which is when a platform decides not to make public any posts from a user without informing them of the restriction.
No actual data was part of the discussion, and their points wholly relied on anecdotal evidence. Dorsey replied in the email chain concerning the meeting saying, “As you know, I believe that conversation, not silence, bridges gaps and drives towards solutions.” He continued, “I have met with every world leader who has extended an invitation to me, and I believe the discussions have been productive, and the outcomes meaningful.”
In March, Trump made comments outside of the White House during a press conference with the president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro after they met. A reporter for the Daily Caller asked Trump how he felt about this perceived conservative bias online. Trump said that Republicans “have to do something” to combat it.
At the press conference, Trump said, “I have very many, millions of followers on Twitter and it’s different than it used to be. Things are happening. Names are taken off. People aren’t getting through.” He continued, saying, “Something’s happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter and I do think we need to get to the bottom of it. It’s very fair. It’s collusive and it’s very, very fair to say that we have to do something about it.”
He has also made a variety of statements critiquing the platform for alleged bias on his Twitter account. In a tweet, Trump said, “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join - they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all.”
The Fox News Twitter account has been dormant since last November in an apparent boycott after show host Tucker Carlson was doxxed. Activists from a group called Smash Racism D.C. showed up outside of his home accusing him of promoting hate and, according to The Washington Post, “an ideology that has led to thousands of people dying.”
Co-founder Biz Stone seemed to make light of the controversy on Twitter in a tweet, saying “I’ve got a meeting today that could result in division. I’m letting you know so you don’t hear it from someone else first.” He continued, “I’m volunteering at a grade school math center. I’m hoping both parties will learn from the exchange.”
Updated 4/23/19 5:18 p.m. EST: Included a statement from Twitter on the meeting.