Monday, May 27, 2024

Dorsey admits Twitter made a mistake in controlling people’s “dialogue”

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has issued a response to the recently leaked ‘Twitter Files’, admitting to a host of major mistakes during his time as chief executive, while warning against “centralized control” of the internet by governments and corporations.

The tech entrepreneur addressed the leaked internal documents in a Tuesday blog post, acknowledging that Twitter failed to uphold its guiding principles near the end of his tenure, and that he “completely gave up” on his own vision for the site after “activist” investors bought into the company sometime in 2020.

Though he did not elaborate on the new investors or how they might have swayed the platform, Dorsey said Twitter’s focus on controlling public dialogue was ultimately one of its greatest errors. He cited the decision to permanently suspend President Donald Trump in the wake of the riot at the US Capitol in January 2021, saying it was “the right thing for the public company business at the time, but the wrong thing for the internet and society.”

The biggest mistake I made was continuing to invest in building tools for us to manage the public conversation, versus building tools for the people using Twitter to easily manage it for themselves,” he said. “This burdened the company with too much power, and opened us to significant outside pressure (such as advertising budgets). I generally think companies have become far too powerful, and that became completely clear to me with our suspension of Trump’s account.”

Dorsey was reportedly on vacation at the time of the Trump ban and had delegated decision-making to executives Yoel Roth and Vijaya Gadde – as revealed in the Twitter Files – but nonetheless said he bears sole blame for the errors in judgment.

“The current attacks on my former colleagues could be dangerous and [don’t] solve anything. If you want to blame, direct it at me and my actions, or lack thereof,” he continued, also insisting “there was no ill intent or hidden agendas” behind Twitter’s more contentious decisions and that the company “acted according to the best information we had at the time.”

Tuesday’s blog post also included a lengthy section warning of “centralized” power over the internet, stating that social media platforms should remain “resilient to corporate and government control” while suggesting Twitter had failed to do so under his watch.

The former CEO, who stepped down from the role in November 2021, went on to say that he welcomes the “fresh reset” brought by Twitter’s new owner, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, expressing hopes that the site will become “uncomfortably transparent.” However, he argued that the Twitter Files should have been released “Wikileaks-style,” or in full, rather than being leaked to select journalists by the site’s new management.

Spearheaded by reporters Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, the documents have been published on a rolling basis with Musk’s blessing, shedding light on a number of controversial decisions made by the company. Five installments have gone public so far, including material surrounding Trump’s suspension, Twitter’s close cooperation with US intelligence agencies, the practice of shadow banning, as well as a site-wide ban on a New York Post report about the foreign business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden.

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