Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey has taken the blame for straying from his original free-speech model and not standing up against the government control that has been revealed in Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files.”
As reported by the U.K. DAILY MAIL, Dorsey said in a blog post Tuesday that he “gave up” in 2020, when an activist investor, presumed to be Elliott Management, a New York City-based hedge fund, took control, replaced the board members and tried to fire him, causing him to start planning his exit, which came in November of 2021. He’d already been dividing his time between Twitter and his other company, the payment service Square. Twitter’s value was flagging, and Dorsey was even talking about relocating to Africa.
Elliott Management, under the leadership of managing partner Jesse Cohn, bought a controlling share of Twitter for $387 million.
Dorsey apparently feels so guilty about his failure to lead that he is planning to hand out $1 million per year for “engineers developing algorithms and platforms that would make the internet a freer place, a project he called “open internet development.”
His new post lists three principles that social media companies should adhere toe:
1) Being “resilient to corporate and government control.”
2) Allowing only the “original author” to “remove content they produce.”
3) Relying on “algorithmic choice” to implement moderation online. I am not sure what this means from a technological standpoint, but one would hope it had something to do with making the internet a freer place.
“The Twitter when I led it and the Twitter of today do not meet any of these principles,” Dorsey says now. “This is my fault alone, as I completely gave up pushing for them when an activist entered our stock in 2020.”
As reported by the DAILY MAIL, it was the pandemic that stopped Dorsey’s plan to move to Africa, “and he and Elliott Management reached a deal that would keep him on as CEO of Twitter.” But Cohn and four others formed a committee to look at the leadership structure and to determine what changes to make at the end of that year.”
Elliott Management remained a shareholder until spring of this year, when Musk agreed to buy the company for $44 billion. Then, it got out entirely.
On January 13, 2021 --- five days after Trump was banned --- Dorsey defended that action, tweeting: “I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”
Dorsey tweeted, “I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban Donald Trump from Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on the threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?”
No, Mr. Dorsey, it was not correct. Did you READ the internal communications of your staff? We’ve just seen from those that the top people at Twitter were mostly thinking about how to twist a President’s meaning in order to ban him. You did not “have” to ban him. Your highest-level people were itching to ban him. If you didn't see this then, I hope you can see it now.
Also, we wonder if you knew about all the former FBI and CIA personnel who were being hired at your company after Trump became President. What were they doing there? Was that another “mistake”? Did you even know about it? These were high-level positions, so one would assume you did.
Dorsey does acknowledge now, after seeing the files released by Musk, that his biggest mistake was “investing in tools for us to manage the public conversation, versus building tools for the people using Twitter to easily manage it for themselves. This burdened the company with too much power...and opened us to significant outside pressure (such as advertising budgets).”
He said that banning President Trump from the platform was an example of Twitter having far too much power, adding, “As I’ve said before, we did the right thing for the company business at the time [editorial aside: that’s debatable], but the wrong thing for the Internet and society [editorial aside: no debate there].”
Here is Dorsey’s complete blog post:
While acknowledging that “mistakes were made,” he said, “I continue to believe there was no ill intent or hidden agendas [editorial aside: really???], and everyone acted according to the best information we had at the time.”
I don’t agree at all. But here’s where Dorsey gets it right: “Of course, governments want to shape and control the public conversation, and will use every method at their disposal to do so, including the media. And the power a corporation yields to do the same is only growing. It’s critical that the people have tools to resist this, and that those tools are ultimately owned by the people. Allowing a government or a few corporations to own the public conversation is a path towards centralized control.”
As you know, Dorsey has said before Congress and elsewhere that Twitter did not shadowban “based on political viewpoints,” and we know that was false. Still, Elon Musk has defended him, saying that “the inmates were running the asylum” and that “Jack has a pure heart, imo [in my opinion].”
It’s hard to imagine that Dorsey could've been that naive about the people working for him, but in his latest blog post, he does appear to take responsibility for what we’re seeing now within the corporation: “I do still wish for Twitter, and every company, to become uncomfortably transparent in all their actions, and I wish I [had] forced that many years ago...If you want to blame, direct it at me and my actions, or lack thereof.”
RELATED: Sen. John Kennedy thanked Elon Musk on yesterday’s HANNITY show and praised him for “taking a very courageous stand for the First Amendment,” adding, “They’re beatin’ on him like he stole Christmas. But he’s tough --- he’s tough as a pine knot.” We need to get some new conspiracy theories, he said, “because the old ones all turned out to be true.” Of course, the big one now is the close collaboration the FBI had with social media to influence our elections. “I think Director Wray has a lot of explaining to do...in front of God, country and the American people,” Kennedy said.
It’s true that the left is in a panic about Musk. Remember Alexander Vindman, who was out to get Trump at Trump’s first impeachment? He’s been attacking Musk verbally in a series of tweets, saying Musk “cannot be allowed to promote dangerous radical views...hate speech. Imagine Geobbles [sic] with a bigger platform and wider reach.”
Ah, again with the Nazi imagery. And Musk can’t be “allowed” to express his views, which sounds very much like what John Brennan has said about Trump being "prevented" from speaking. Really, the most hateful speech I’m hearing lately is emanating from people like these two. Just look…
And in case that’s not enough, Musk is being associated with...(drum roll, please)...QAnon. Very predictably, the same things they’ve accused Trump and his supporters of, they’re going to throw at him. (Note: they’ll do it to Ron DeSantis, too.) At this point, we know the left’s playbook from cover to cover. And Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D., has succeeded only in showing how easy it must be to get a Ph.D. these days. Great commentary...
But the attacks won’t just be with words. There’s hardly anything the left won’t do to take Musk down for daring to expose them. Musk has sold over $40 billion in Tesla shares to acquire Twitter, which he did in October. Year-to-date, Tesla’s shares are down about 60 percent. And Musk is currently not the world’s richest person; he’s now in second place, with first place going to Bernard Arnault of France.
So, thank you again, Elon Musk. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, and also that your quest to save the First Amendment would come with the kind of price tag that makes the rest of us say, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” You didn’t have to fight this fight, but it took someone with your resources and indomitable courage to do it, so we’ve mighty grateful you did.
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12/17/2022 11:01 AM
Sounds like Dorsey got in over his head with the wrong folks. May I add my sincere gratitude for Elin Musk for doing something so expensive and courageous. He is a hero.