Today Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pledged his company’s support for free expression, accountability, and transparency. His statement — including an explicit mention of Politwoops, a politician accountability tool — is to be applauded.
We’re happy to see Twitter’s commitment to accountability and transparency online, and we encourage the sector to follow Twitter’s lead.
During Dorsey’s speech, which was livestreamed from a Twitter developer conference, he emphasized that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. We couldn’t agree more. He listed a number of other commitments to free expression and transparency, adding, “We have a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue, such as Politwoops.”
We’re encouraged that Twitter has again affirmed the important role it plays in “empowering dialogue” and “speaking truth to power,” as Dorsey explained today. It is important that Twitter continues to play an effective role in providing pathways for the public to keep government officials accountable for their statements. Today’s speech is a welcome indication of that role.
In 2010, the Netherlands-based Open State Foundation created the Politwoops tool to publish Tweets deleted by politicians. The organization then proceeded to roll out Politwoops with the help of individuals and organizations in 32 countries, including the Sunlight Foundation in the U.S. Unfortunately, in May 2015, Twitter then revoked the Sunlight Foundation’s access to its API, and months later, in August, also revoked the Open State Foundation’s access.
In September, a major coalition of rights groups from five continents, coordinated by Access Now, came out in support of Politwoops, using an open letter to call on Twitter to restore API access to the digital accountability tool. Signatories included Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Human Rights Watch, Sunlight Foundation, and Open State Foundation itself.
Other groups from across the globe included Alternatif Bilisim (Turkey), Art 34-bis (Italy), Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles (Argentina), Blueprint for Free Speech (Australia), Derechos Digitales (Latin America), Jinbonet (Korea), OpenMedia (Canada), Paradigm Initiative (Nigeria), Pirate Party (Turkey), and Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (Mexico).
We’re excited to see Twitter make this kind of public statement in support of transparency and accountability. We look forward to working closely with Twitter and other platforms in the sector to bring more transparency to public dialogue, as Jack Dorsey stated today.
UPDATE: This blog post was updated on 10/21/2015 at 6:15pm EST.