Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey may want to claim responsibility for all that the “Twitter Files” released by new owner Elon Musk has revealed about the social media platform he co-founded, but as he called for even more transparency, his ownership of fault included a naive perspective on motivations.
With five installments of the “Twitter Files” released thus far and a future edition expected to focus on the suppression of information about COVID, Dorsey launched into his latest mea culpa Tuesday that included a healthy dose of built-in finger-pointing. All the while, he held firm to a notion of plausible deniability as his assertion of “no ill intent or hidden agendas” demanded accepting “everyone acted according to the best information we had at the time.”
Beginning on Twitter, Dorsey fired off a few tweets that read, “There’s a lot of conversation around the #TwitterFiles. Here’s my take, and thoughts on how to fix the issues identified. I’ll start with the principles I’ve come to believe based on everything I’ve learned and experience through my past actions as a Twitter co-founder and lead:
- Social media must be resilient to corporate and government control.
- Only the original author may remove content they produce.
- Moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice.
1. Social media must be resilient to corporate and government control.
2. Only the original author may remove content they produce.
3. Moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice.
— jack (@jack) December 13, 2022
It was then that he shifted to a blog format and explained his departure had been linked to a failure to meet these expectations, “The Twitter when I led it and the Twitter of today do not meet any of these principles. This is my fault alone, as I completely gave up pushing for them when an activist entered our stock in 2020. I no longer had hope of achieving any of it as a public company with no defense mechanisms…I planned my exit at that moment knowing I was no longer right for the company.”
Though he did not name the specific activist, some believe Dorsey was referring to Elliot Management’s partner Jesse Cohn as he directed a $387 million purchase of a majority share of Twitter that year before attempting to oust the then-CEO.
“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 asserted, before arguing, “I continue to believe there was no ill intent or hidden agendas, and everyone acted according to the best information we had at the time.”
“Of course mistakes were made,” Dorsey said. “But if we had focused more on tools for the people using the service rather than tools for us, and moved much faster towards absolute transparency, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation of needing a fresh reset (which I am supportive of). Again, I own all of this and our actions, and all I can do is work to make it right.”
The Twitter co-founder had called for transparency last week as well ahead of the release of internal communications that detailed the process leading up to the permanent suspension of then-President Donald Trump from the platform in Jan. 2021 despite admission from many within the company that there had been no violation to warrant the move.
Responding to Dorsey’s suggestion to “just release everything without filter and let people judge for themselves,” Musk had responded, “Most important data was hidden (from you too) and some may have been deleted, but everything we find will be released.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 8, 2022
Dorsey did not directly address his 2018 testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee where had bluntly replied “No” to questions regarding the censoring and shadow-banning of conservatives and prominent Republicans as asked by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.)
“I do still wish for Twitter, and every company, to become uncomfortably transparent in all their actions, and I wish I forced more of that years ago,” the blog later stated. “I do believe absolute transparency builds trust.”
“As for the files, I wish there were released Wikileaks-style, with many more eyes and interpretations to consider. And along with that, commitments of transparency for present and future actions,” Dorsey added. “I’m hopeful all of this will happen. There’s nothing to hide… only a lot to learn from. The current attacks on my former colleagues could be dangerous and doesn’t solve anything. If you want to blame, direct it at me and my actions, or lack thereof.”
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