US President Donald Trump met Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey and spent a significant time questioning him about why he had lost some followers on the social networking site, a person briefed on the matter has said.
The meeting, which was organised by the White House last week, came hours after Trump again attacked the social media company over allegations it is biased against conservatives.
However, shortly after the meeting ended, Trump tweeted a photo and expressed a more positive tone from his earlier complaints.
Great meeting this afternoon at the @WhiteHouse with @Jack from @Twitter. Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue! pic.twitter.com/QnZi579eFb
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
Dorsey also replied in a tweet and thanked him for the initiative.
Thank you for the time. Twitter is here to serve the entire public conversation, and we intend to make it healthier and more civil. Thanks for the discussion about that.
— jack (@jack) April 23, 2019
“They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 US elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis,” Twitter said in a statement.
According to the Wired magazine, Twitter policy head Vijaya Gadde had notified employees on Tuesday that Dorsey was expected to meet Trump in a 30-minute, closed-door meeting later that afternoon.
“Some of you will be very supportive of our meeting the president, and some of you might feel we shouldn’t take this meeting at all,” Dorsey wrote in a follow-up message, [but] “I believe it’s important to meet heads of state in order to listen, share our principles and our ideas.”
Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media and the person who often tweets on Trump’s behalf was in the meeting, while Dorsey was accompanied by Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy, trust and safety.
This is not the first time Dorsey has visited the White House. In 2011, he moderated a Twitter town hall with then-President Barack Obama, but it was the first time he met Trump.
In 2016, Trump held a meeting with tech leaders, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Tesla’s Elon Musk, but no one from Twitter was invited.
Trump has reportedly been upset about losing followers. The president lost 204,000, or 0.4 percent, of his 53.4 million followers in July, according to social media data firm Keyhole, when Twitter started its purge of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 US presidential race and other elections.
In October, Trump wrote, “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join – they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?”
Twitter shares jumped 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported quarterly revenue above analyst estimates, which executives said was the result of weeding out spam and abusive posts and targeting ads better.
Trump has one of the most-followed accounts on Twitter. But the president and the Republicans in US Congress have repeatedly criticised the company and its social media competitors for what they have called bias against conservatives, something Twitter denies.
Carlos Monje, Twitter’s public policy director, said at a Senate hearing earlier this month the site “does not use political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation to make any decisions, whether related to automatically ranking content on our service or how we develop or enforce our rules”.