Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter Chairman Says All Voices Needed Even Amid Hate Rhetoric

Twitter Inc.’s website has seen major wars of words in the U.S. presidential race, giving rise to passionate voices on all sides --including those who are racist -- but that’s what the service is for, according to the company’s executive chairman.

Omid Kordestani, who himself is an Iranian-born immigrant, said “It’s very hurtful and sometimes painful to read these tweets” with anti-immigrant sentiment from supporters of Donald Trump’s campaign.

“But that’s our society,’’ he said at Bloomberg’s Technology Conference in San Francisco on Monday. “You have to have room for all those voices. Instead of tanks and troops rolling in the street, you have this conversation.’’

Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey has made it a top priority to ensure that people feel safe using Twitter, while safeguarding its role as a forum for global public debate. The social-media company is trying to figure out where to draw the line between strong opinions and harassment, relying mostly on public complaints to flag offenders. While Twitter has guidelines and procedures for removing users who abuse its rules, policing accounts and making fair decisions has proven to be difficult.

Still, incidents on the site have driven away several high-profile users, including a New York Times editor who was bombarded last week with anti-Semitic tweets after posting an article about Trump and fascism.

Kordestani, who became Twitter’s executive chairman last year after being considered for the CEO position, contrasted Silicon Valley’s optimism with some of the campaign rhetoric.

“There’s a lot we should worry about, some politicians who talk about what we should fear all the time,’’ he said. At the same time, in an age of investment in projects like flying cars, “there’s such pride we should feel that this innovation is happening in our backyard.”

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