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Twitter CEO after Rose McGowan account suspension: ‘We need to be a lot more transparent’

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey publicly responded to the controversy about actress Rose McGowan's social media account being suddenly suspended on Thursday, taking some measure of responsibility for the outrage.

"We need to be a lot more transparent in our actions in order to build trust," Dorsey tweets.

Dorsey also admits that Twitter "needs to do a better job at showing that we are not selectively applying the rules."

And he has been aware of the shortcomings, he acknowledges, in response to another comment.

On Friday, posts regarding the #womenboycottTwitter movement, spawned by the McGowan controversy to protest Twitter's opaque and, to some, biased policing of individual accounts, numbered in the thousands.

Twitter has come under fire before for not suspending the account of President Donald Trump, who is notorious for being active and controversial on the microblogging site. In September, however, many felt he went too far when Trump called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un the "Little Rocket Man" and all but threatened nuclear war with the country.

At the time, Twitter said Trump's tweets were not deleted because they were "newsworthy," and that it holds "all accounts to the same Rules."

"We ... consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules," the company wrote in a tweet at the time. "Among the considerations is 'newsworthiness' and whether a Tweet is of public interest. This has long been internal policy and we'll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will."

That policy ended up coming back to haunt the social media company Thursday. Prominent tech journalist Kara Swisher called the company out for unfairly determining what is newsworthy.

McGowan was tweeting in support of women who had come forward about being sexually abused by the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Thursday, McGowan posted on Instagram a screenshot of a notification from Twitter that her account access had been limited because she violated the platform's rules. She could not tweet, retweet or respond to tweets. She could only send direct messages and read other tweets.

TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME. THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE. #ROSEARMY #whywomendontreport

A post shared by Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) on

The move by Twitter sparked outrage by many women, some who called for a boycott of the social media platform. Later Thursday, McGowan's account was restored and she quickly took to Twitter where she accused Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos of ignoring her claims of sexual assault.

Dorsey pointed to the tweeted statement by Twitter's safety team responding to the temporary suspension of McGowan's account. It was temporarily locked, Twitter said, because she included a private phone number which was a violation of the company's terms of service. McGowan's temporary account freeze was lifted when executives got into the office in San Francisco, according to the New York Times.

Appropriately censoring content posted on social media is becoming an increasingly challenging and charged task for social media companies.

For example, earlier in the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for removing videos capturing police violence that were important to the Black Lives Matter movement and in removing iconic photo "The Terror of War."

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Some women call for a boycott of Twitter after actress Rose McGowan is partially suspended

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