Twitter staff 'feel silenced' by left-wing workforce

Margi Murphy
Twitter faces a possible investigation into suppressing conservative politicians - © 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey has claimed that “conservative-leaning” employees “don’t feel safe to express their opinions” while working at the Silicon Valley social media company.

Mr Dorsey, who appeared in front of US politicians to testify during a hearing about political bias at Twitter last week, admitted that he “had not tended to have conversations with many people in a more conservative end of the spectrum or right end of the spectrum".

He said he had recently learnt that some employees “feel silenced” by predominantly liberal voices at Twitter in an interview with New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen.

The US Justice Department has said it is considering an investigation into whether Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies stifle free speech.

It follows US president Donald Trump’s attack on Silicon Valley, claiming that Twitter had been “shadow banning” Republicans and insisting that Google was “rigged” against him.

In July Ronna McDaniel, Donald Trump Jr’s spokesman and a number of conservative Republican congressmen were removed from the search bar on Twitter, sparking allegations that they had been censored. All were reinstated within a day and Mr Dorsey has apologised, claiming that the issue was related to the account holders’ followers.

The comments may reignite a debate over Silicon Valley’s perceived anti-Trump mentality. This week Google was forced to deny that any of its products were biased after an hour-long video of cofounder Sergey Brin and high-level executives addressing colleagues to express their disappointment in the 2016 election results.

Big players like Twitter, Google, YouTube and Facebook say that because their underlying systems are largely automated, there is little room for human bias. However researchers have pointed out that biases can exist because algorithms are written by humans.

Mr Dorsey has recently been insistent that he will focus on the “health” of Twitter, hinting that sweeping changes to how the service works might be to come. He used the example that he felt he grew up in a “healthy” home because his mother, a Democrat and his father, a Republican, often discussed opposing views around the dinner table as he was growing up.