- In a blog post, Jack Dorsey said he should be blamed solely for Twitter’s content-related failures.
- Dorsey decried attacks on his ex-colleagues and offered his thoughts on 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 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: that social platforms “must be resilient to corporate and government control,” that “only the original author may remove content they produce,” and that “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 the activist hedge fund Elliott Management acquired a $1 billion stake in Twitter and called for Dorsey’s ousting, though it is unclear whether Dorsey was referring to the company in his post.
Dorsey went on to write that he believed social-media companies had amassed too much power and that Twitter’s decision to bar former President Donald Trump, under Dorsey’s 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. Musk released the emails and internal documents making up the cache to independent journalists including Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss.
Included in the “Twitter Files” are debates between employees on whether to bar Trump for inciting violence following the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, proof the platform limited the reach of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop — which was previously known — and acknowledgment that Twitter accepted requests from both Joe Biden’s campaign and the Trump administration to remove content from the site.
While some of the content in the Twitter Files brought to light additional details and internal discussion about the platform’s content-moderation practices, many of the policy decisions surrounding Trump’s barring, and the rationale behind them, had previously been reported or acknowledged in Dorsey’s 2020 statement to the Senate and congressional testimony after the Capitol riot.
Backlash over 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 in which he appears to advocate for a teen-friendly version of Grindr for young queer adults. Musk also agreed 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, CNN reported.
“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 he was “partially to blame” for damaging the internet.
His latest apologies are in contrast to his initial statement barring Trump — saying at the time 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 said “the broader ecosystem,” not just Twitter, had to be considered.
When he cofounded 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 platforms 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 barring Trump and 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 he’s taken over has definitely skewed towards favoring the far-right,” Berger previously told Insider, adding that he believed the billionaire was “intentionally empowering right-wing extremists.”
Dorsey, Musk, and representatives for Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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