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Twitter CEO admits platform needs more transparency, denies political bias


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Twitter CEO admits platform needs more transparency, denies political bias

In front of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Sept. 5, Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey admitted the company needs to improve privacy, transparency and accuracy of the social media platform and its practice.

"I believe we need to do a much better job, not only with those [Twitter's] rules but with our terms of service, we need to make them a whole lot more approachable," Dorsey said during a hearing on transparency and accountability at the company. "I think there's a lot of confusion around our rules and also our enforcement — and we intend to fix it."

Dorsey also believes that Twitter needs to do more to protect people on the platform who are not celebrities or politicians.

"I don’t know yet exactly how that [protecting private individuals] will manifest, but I do believe it’s important that we extend the protection of our rules more to private individuals necessarily than public figures."

The company is also focused on increasing the accuracy of information. In written testimony, Dorsey said Twitter will partner with academic institutions to develop health metrics that look at "informational echo chambers and unhealthy discourse" on the platform.

The hearing also looked at alleged bias towards conservatives on the platform, as some feel that conservative voices are stifled.

Addressing allegations that certain conservative users were not getting the same exposure as their Democratic counterpoints, Dorsey said, "We do not shadowban anyone based on political ideology."

"In fact, from a simple business perspective and to serve the public conversation, Twitter is incentivized to keep all voices on the platform," he said.

Instead, the exposure issues were because of the company’s use of "behavioral signals" to feature content on users’ timelines. Dorsey also said that the issue impacted Democrats and Republicans.

"To be clear, this only impacted our search auto-suggestions," Dorsey said. "The accounts, their tweets and surrounding conversation about those accounts were still showing up in search results. Once identified, this issue was promptly resolved within 24 hours."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to gather state attorneys general to determine if prominent social media platforms are "intentionally stifling" certain viewpoints, according to a Sept. 5 report in The Wall Street Journal.

The House Judiciary Committee also held a hearing on content moderation practices at Facebook Inc., Twitter and Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC in July, where all three organizations denied that political bias plays any role in content moderation.