New World Notes

Twitter Alex Jones Survey Ban

Interesting results to a new survey just conducted on Blind, the popular anonymous online community for tech workers, over the still-contentious question of whether violence-provoking conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should be banned from Twitter (the one social platform which still hasn't banned him, despite public pressure to do so.) With 5,137 users taking the survey between August 18 and August 24, a supermajority (over 60%) supported banning him. Notably, however, only 21% of Twitter employees supported a ban -- meaning an even larger supermajority of Twitter staff support CEO Jack Dorsey's insistence that Jones shouldn't be banned from their platform.

Important caveat -- while there are 950 Twitter employees on Blind (company spokesman Kyle McCarthy tells me), only 56 took the Alex Jones survey. So this small data sample may not be as representative as we'd like. Still, the fact that such a large percent support Jones' non-banning suggests that's probably the general consensus among Twitter staff.

McCarthy showed me how the survey numbers broke down by company affiliation, which reveal some fascinating trends in Valley opinion:

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 12.46.51 PMBy a wide degree, Apple employees supported banning Jones most. (Perhaps partly due to Jones' rampant homophobia, and Apple CEO Tim Cook being among the few out gay executives in the Valley?) Jones was recently banned from Facebook, so it's also notable that Facebook employee opinion on banning him from Twitter was closely split (only 53% for a ban).  Same goes for Google, which also banned Jones from its YouTube platform (but only 54% support a Twitter ban).

Overall, though, the most marked contrast is between what tech workers in general wanted Twitter to do, and what tech workers at Twitter supported:

So you could read this as company groupthink around its internal policies, or employees knowing more about these policies than the critical public does. (Or perhaps more likely, a combination of both.)

Again, this is a small survey sample of Twitter employees, but one of them di post a passionate defense on Blind's company blog:

The debate here is only happening because Jones has unquestionably initiated a massive campaign of harassment and intimidation which has even spread offline and resulted in legal actions, etc. The intimidation of the Sandy Hook families is the most obvious example. The one thing that we all agree with Jack on is that the policies should be based on behavior and consequences, not just speech itself... Either you are speaking without being aware of any of the readily available facts, or you know the facts and you’re intentionally trying to pollute and degrade the conversation, in which case it’s a good thing you don’t work at a conversation-oriented company!