Conservatives have long had doubts about the social media empire Twitter and its ability to allow all sides of an issue to weigh in fairly.
Last week, news of the appointment of a new CEO of Twitter, Parag Agrawal, has resurrected these questions.
After the announcement went live, Agrawal’s objectivity has been called into question as Tweets and quotes from over a decade ago have resurfaced.
On Monday, November 29, 2021, the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, announced that he was stepping down from his long-held position.
The CEO stated that the company had outgrown its founders and that the time had come for him to pass the torch to someone else.
The recipient of that torch was stated to be Twitter’s Chief Technology officer, Parag Agrawal.
In his resignation letter, Dorsey affirmed the decision by the board to appoint Agrawal to this position.
Agrawal has been a part of the Twitter organization since 2011 and has played the role of the Chief Technology Officer since 2017.
Dorsey affirmed that Agrawal was the right man for the job because of Agrawal’s deep understanding of the company and its needs.
Dorsey also stated about Agrawal that “trust for him as our CEO is bone deep.”
Twitter has been controversial among conservatives and liberals alike in the past few years because of the decision to permanently ban former President Donald Trump’s access to the platform due to Trump’s alleged role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Critics from both liberal and conservative sides say that the ban smacks of censorship, setting precedents for many social media companies to silence political opposition.
Other liberals feel that Dorsey should have acted earlier, silencing Trump well before the attack, limiting his ability to stir up trouble.
Not long after this announcement went live, conservatives began raising questions about the new CEO of Twitter.
In an interview with MIT Technology Review in 2020, Agrawal stated, “Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation.”
This answer was in response to a question regarding the tricky balance between protecting free speech and allowing incorrect information to remain available on Twitter.
While many are concerned with Agrawal’s stance on the First Amendment, others have urgent questions about his stance on race.
In October of 2010, one controversial Tweet from Agrawal stated, “If they are not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists?”
While Agrawal was quoting someone else in this Tweet, its usage suggests to many that Agrawal may be biased against white people.
Free speech activists are hopeful that a new leader will alter the course of Twitter.
Senator Roger Wicker said in an email, “I hope the next Twitter CEO actually makes important changes that welcome free speech and do not censor conservative viewpoints.”
However, others feel certain that under Agrawal’s leadership things will get worse due to the views he has expressed in the past.
Following the announcement about the change in leadership on Monday, Twitter stocks initially experienced a surge of up to 11.1 percent.
However, by day’s end, the stock of Twitter closed down 2.7 percent.
Over the past three months, Twitter stocks have not done well, declining by 27.8 percent while the S&P 500 has increased by 3.3 percent.