Jack Dorsey admits mistakes at Twitter, says site still has problems

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2018.

Anushree Fadnavis | Reuters

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey didn’t mention Elon Musk by name. But in a blog post on Tuesday, he made it clear that the company he once led still had significant problems then and now.

Dorsey said he was adding his voice to discussion around the “Twitter Files,” which Musk started releasing last week to support his claims that prior management was biased against conservatives in its handling of content moderation.

At the beginning of his post, Dorsey said he’s come to believe in three principles. Social media must withstand “corporate and government control,” the author is the only person who can remove content they produce, and “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,” Dorsey wrote.

Musk, who closed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in October, has rolled back many of the old moderation policies. He’s also welcomed back former President Donald Trump, who was permanently kicked off the site under Dorsey’s leadership after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Dorsey didn’t level any specific criticism at Musk. He said he personally abandoned his efforts to push the company in the right direction after activist firm Elliott Management got involved with the company over two years ago.

“This is my fault alone,” Dorsey wrote. “I completely gave up pushing for them when an activist entered our stock in 2020.”

Regarding Twitter’s decision to suspend Trump, Dorsey said he believes “there was no ill intent or hidden agendas, and everyone acted according to the best information we had at the time.”

Still, he said that “mistakes were made” and Twitter would be in a better position today if the company “focused more on tools for the people using the service rather than tools for us.”

Dorsey said that in general social messaging platforms shouldn’t take down content or suspend accounts, because “doing so complicates important context, learning, and enforcement of illegal activity.”

He promoted the idea of a “free and open protocol for social media” that isn’t owned by any one person or company as the only way to adhere to his stated principles.

“The problem today is that we have companies who own both the protocol and discovery of content,” Dorsey wrote. “Which ultimately puts one person in charge of what’s available and seen, or not.”

Dorsey cited Bluesky, a nonprofit organized by Twitter, as well as Mastodon and Matrix as emerging projects that could potentially live up to his view of what constitutes a free and open social media protocol. He said he would be offering grants to promising projects, starting with $1 million to Signal, an encrypted messaging app.

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