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Jack Dorsey: Twitter is best when it carries every voice

Twitter is full of extremes — and that's okay, Dorsey says.

Asa Mathat

Does a platform have to be neutral?

That was the question posed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday by Recode's Peter Kafka at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. The question is an important one, especially now, just a few weeks removed from a report early last month that Facebook, another important platform for publishers, was systematically suppressing conservative news and headlines from appearing in its trending topics section.

Facebook has denied that report, but the idea is still floating around: Do platforms that deliver the news, run by CEOs with strong political and social opinions, need to be completely neutral?

Here was Dorsey's response:

"I think a platform is best when it carries every voice. ... I believe we need to build a platform that respects and amplifies every voice in a way that the world needs to hear it. I trust that the world will amplify and retweet and have conversations where appropriate. And wherever that attention diverts in real time is where it's needed. So I think a platform, in order to be a platform, has to be free to every opinion and every voice and I think we need to hear them all. We need to hear every extreme to find the balance."

That sounds like a yes — platforms do need to be neutral.

In Twitter's case, every extreme really does thrive. In one corner, you have the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who uses fear and racism and sexism to climb in the presidential polls.

In the other, you have folks like DeRay Mckesson, the social activist associated with the #blacklivesmatter movement that started on Twitter and who lost his bid to become mayor of Baltimore.

Mckesson was onstage with Dorsey Wednesday and was asked about sharing a platform with people who use it to spread many of the ideologies he disagrees with.

"I agree with Jack — it is better when we are exposed to as many ideas as possible," he said. "Not that I always want to be in proximity to them."

Mckesson has blocked more than 19,000 people on Twitter, and gets death threats and racial slurs thrown his way with regularity. But he's also a Twitter diehard, a loyal user who geeks out over the company's minute product changes while simultaneously dealing with the company's biggest failure: Its propensity to provide a platform for internet trolls.

"I think the question is how do we invite more people into the conversation?" Mckesson said. "For us, again, [the Ferguson] protest was this idea of telling the truth in public, and it was important that people who would otherwise not have a platform to be heard, were heard."

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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