In a blog post, Jack Dorsey said he should be solely blamed for Twitter’s content-related failures.
Dorsey condemned attacks on his former colleagues and laid out his thoughts for the future of social media.
As CEO, Dorsey said he led Twitter to do the “wrong thing for the internet and society.”
In a Tuesday blog post, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in on the revelations made in the “Twitter Files” and said that under his leadership he led the social media platform to do the “wrong thing for the internet and society.”
The post first outlined Dorsey’s thoughts on “principles” about social media he has come to believe: (1) That social platforms “must be resilient to corporate and government control,” (2) “only the original author may remove content they produce,” and (3) “moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice.”
“The Twitter when I led it and the Twitter of today do not meet any of these principles. This is my fault alone,” Dorsey wrote in the post, saying he “gave up pushing for” the principles when an unnamed “activist entered stock in 2020.”
That year, The New York Times reported activist hedge fund Elliott Management acquired a $1 billion stake in Twitter and called for Dorsey’s ousting, though it is unclear if Dorsey was referring to the company in his post.
Dorsey went on to write that he believes social media companies have amassed too much power and Twitter’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump, under his own leadership, was evidence of that power taken to an extreme.
“As I’ve said before, we did the right thing for the public company business at the time, but the wrong thing for the internet and society,” Dorsey wrote.
The “Twitter Files” have provided some insight into the content moderation practices of the social media giant under Dorsey’s leadership, revealed through emails and internal documents released by Musk to independent journalists including Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss.
Included in the “Twitter Files” are back-and-forth conversations between employees debating whether to ban Trump for inciting violence following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, proof the platform limited the reach of the NY Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop — which was previously known — and acknowledgment that Twitter accepted requests from both the Biden campaign and Trump administration to remove content from the site.
While some of the content contained in the Twitter Files revealed additional details and internal discussion about the platform’s content moderation practices, many of the policy decisions surrounding Trump’s ban, and the rationale behind them, had previously been reported or acknowledged in Dorsey’s 2020 statement to the Senate or congressional testimony after January 6.
Backlash over the content revealed by the Twitter Files has resulted in increased threats being levied against Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety. In a series of tweets, Musk added to the criticism of Roth, posting an excerpt of a paper written by the former Twitter executive where he appears to advocate for a teen-friendly version of Grindr for young queer adults and agreeing with tweets calling Roth a “creep.”
The threats, which Dorsey condemned in his post without addressing Musk’s behavior, have reportedly gotten so bad that Roth was forced to flee his home out of fear for his safety.
“The current attacks on my former colleagues could be dangerous and doesn’t solve anything,” Dorsey wrote. “If you want to blame, direct it at me and my actions, or lack thereof.”
In recent months, Dorsey has apologized (after massive layoffs by Musk) for growing “the company size too quickly,” said shutting down the video clip platform Vine was his “biggest regret,” and agreed with Musk’s decision to reverse Trump’s Twitter ban, saying it was “a business decision.” In April, Dorsey said that he was “partially to blame” for “really damag[ing] the internet.”
His latest apologies are in contrast to his initial statement banning Trump, saying it was “the right decision,” and his 2021 congressional testimony in which he acknowledged “some” responsibility for misinformation spreading on Twitter that contributed to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, but “the broader ecosystem,” not just Twitter, had to be considered.
When he co-founded Twitter in 2006, Dorsey’s approach to content moderation was seen as pro-free speech and the company “had to be dragged” into content moderation, J.M. Berger, a researcher on extremism on social media like Twitter, told Insider.
“Because of Jack Dorsey’s personal views about freedom of speech and whatever his sympathies are ideologically, Twitter had to be dragged — kicking and screaming — into the age of content moderation,” Berger told Insider. “So Twitter was really the last of the big three platforms to implement any kind of robust moderation.”
Flaws in controversial decisions Dorsey made while attempting to moderate Twitter content, such as banning Trump or censoring the Hunter Biden Laptop story, have drawn ire from critics, including Musk. Since his acquisition, citing flaws in Dorsey’s approach, Musk has implemented a more stringent approach toward “free speech absolutism” and has diminished content moderation on the platform.
“The way that Twitter’s content moderation has changed since [Elon has] taken over has definitely skewed towards favoring the far-right,” Berger told insider, adding that he believes the billionaire is “intentionally empowering right-wing extremists.”
Dorsey, Musk, and representatives for Twitter did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
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