Jack Dorsey Steps Down As Twitter CEO, Chaos Ensues
Isadora Teich wrote this article
Usually, when it comes to social media giants in the news cycle, Twitter tends to skate by, even though it has its share of issues.
Lately, Meta’s Instagram and Facebook have been dominating headlines. Their rebrand and revelations shared by a whistleblower have been controversial.
Also, TikTok has actually been banned in some parts of the world, and amidst fantastic growth dominates the lives of young social media users.
This week, Twitter has overtaken headlines with a few controversial and thought-provoking decisions.
Let’s take a look.
Jack Dorsey Steps Down
Across the world of journalism, many are theorizing that Jack Dorsey left Twitter simply because he is bored of it.
The general consensus is that tech giants, in general, are starting to move on from their massive successes to focus on what comes next.
This year, for example, Jeff Bezos stopped being CEO of Amazon. Google’s founders stepped down in 2019 too. Currently, they invest in futuristic projects like airships.
The Atlantic describes Jack Dorsey as “one of Silicon Valley’s most important woolgathering sages” and an eccentric “ideas guy.”
Many think he has simply gotten tired of dealing with Twitter. He is over the toxicity, senate hearings, and overall responsibilities of managing Twitter. As a platform, it is mature and no longer innovative.
Legacy tech platforms make plenty of money from their hundreds of millions, if not billions, of users, but they’re also riddled with problems. Those problems must feel quotidian to the people who dreamed the platforms up.
Dorsey created Twitter. After 16 years of involvement, many feel that he simply has had enough. The New York Times echoes sentiments that he is not the only one.
There has always been a huge disconnect between how Dorsey views Twitter and how it functions. In 2015 he tweeted about how Twitter is the universal consciousness that the world needs. This was immediately met with criticism.
— Charlie Stross (@cstross) August 8, 2018
More Than Boredom
When Dorsey left, he announced it in a company email. He believes that by leaving he is choosing the future of the company over his own ego. He said:
There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being “founder-led.” Ultimately I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders.
However, outside of ideals or speculation. His departure makes a lot of sense. He has been under intense pressure for over a year from investors.
They wanted him to boost Twitter’s growth and improve its financial performance. Activist hedge fund Elliott Management, which owns a $2 billion stake in Twitter, even tried to oust Dorsey before.
While Twitter is showing steady improvement in these areas, it is not showing groundbreaking results.
Also, keep in mind that Jack Dorsey has been helming Square and Twitter simultaneously for some time. So, it makes sense that he would want to focus on only one of those companies going forward. Perhaps, being spread so thin has led him to make some big mistakes.
Jack Dorsey’s Twitter Failed Africa
Elon Musk noted Dorsey’s departure and the arrival of new CEO Parag Agrawal with a USSR-inspired meme.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 1, 2021
Others, who have been directly harmed by Dorsey’s Twitter are less glib. Kenyan journalist Odanga Madung wrote for Wired:
To the West, Twitter under Dorsey’s reign from 2015 to 2021 often looked like an acidic, hate-fuelled, raging dumpster fire. But what westerners got was Twitter’s platinum version. It’s the version made by people who take their civic problems seriously because those problems are theirs too. Misinformation, hate speech, and manipulation on the platform is much worse in my corner of the world and Dorsey’s legacy in Africa is even more neglectful and hypocritical than his legacy in the Western world.
In many African countries, Twitter has failed to moderate the spread of hateful content and scams entirely. This has led to an increase in violence in authoritarian countries. Twitter has led to increased tragedy amidst civil wars.
Twitter has not taken responsibility for its algorithms and failure to moderate. Instead, they have largely blamed users in Africa.
Persona Before Twitter?
A common thread is that Jack Dorsey has an eccentric persona. Some say he may have been more invested in cultivating his own mystique than his company. According to the Intelligencer:
Dorsey had a reputation as a hands-off CEO, seemingly more interested in cultivating his billionaire beatnik aura than evolving his platform, which counts some 400 million users. While Twitter weighed the most consequential decision of Dorsey’s tenure — whether to boot President Donald Trump from the platform — its CEO was on a private island in French Polynesia.
Keep in mind, that he was only a part-time CEO because of his work at Square. While Twitter was trying to handle existential and real-world threats, its CEO was only working part-time.
Multiple people have wanted him fired over the years. Pivot co-host Scott Halloway wrote an open letter to Twitter’s board of directors in 2019.
He begged them to push Dorsey out. Halloway claimed that Dorsey’s “indifference and yogababble” were destroying the company.
So, it has only been about a week since Dorsey has stepped down as CEO. He has been replaced with Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s former chief technology officer. A day after that bombshell, Twitter announced new rules. This has had users in an absolute uproar.
Beginning today, we will not allow the sharing of private media, such as images or videos of private individuals without their consent. Publishing people’s private info is also prohibited under the policy, as is threatening or incentivizing others to do so.https://t.co/7EXvXdwegG
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 30, 2021
Users were quick to point out that this rule would basically destroy big parts of what Twitter is used for.
Users not only share memes there. They also share vital information in times of crisis. Twitter has been a critical part of various political actions globally too.
“Sooo….. under this policy, the FBI would not have had the ability to search for January 6 people on here…. local law enforcement can’t post images of criminals they’re searching for… and missing children’s images can’t be posted to help find them… got it.” (@TimRunsHisMouth)
“What does this even mean? You can’t share a meme? Insanity.” (@caroljsroth)
Twitter released a blog post explaining the changes, but many have found this to be quite dense and confusing to unpack.
Some are saying that this new rule shows that Twitter still fundamentally does not understand its users, its responsibilities, and what the concept of free speech means in the US.
A critique across both sides of the political spectrum is that Twitter is notoriously bad at policing its platform and making consistent ethical choices. In this case, this may be adding another manner in which they can fail.
Is it possible to run an ethical and functional global social media empire?
Something we have explored in these blog posts before is that the future of social media may lay in smaller niche platforms.
After all, it is simply impossible to please millions of people with opposing values, desires, and circumstances.
However, while Twitter under Jack Dorsey dealt with various escalating global crises, it could be argued that they didn’t do much to address them.
Jack Dorsey appeared to be an absent CEO disconnected from the reality of what he had created. His decisions have been widely unpopular, even within Silicon Valley. Various interests have been trying to oust him since at least 2019.
When all is said and done, it remains to be seen what will become of a post-Dorsey Twitter.
What do you think? Comment below!
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