Dorsey confessed that he “completely gave up” on trying to fend off activist forces within Twitter and recounted how former President Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform illustrated to him how companies “have become far too powerful.”
“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. This burdened the company with too much power, and opened us to significant outside pressure (such as advertising budgets),” Dorsey reflected in a blog post.
“We did the right thing for the public company business at the time, but the wrong thing for the internet and society,” he added.
Dorsey also laid out three principles for social media that he conceded the company has not followed.
Underscoring that “this is my fault alone, as I completely gave up pushing for [his three principles] when an activist entered our stock in 2020,” Dorsey pleaded for detractors of Twitter to direct blame “at me and my actions, or lack thereof” instead of his former colleagues.
Dorsey departed the company in 2021. Although he did not identify the “activist” that entered the company’s stock, his timeline appears to coincide with the $1 billion purchase from investor Paul Singer’s Elliott Management of Twitter’s shares and moves to push Dorsey out as CEO. Elliot offloaded its Twitter shares around April amid news of Tesla and SpaceX tycoon Elon Musk’s takeover, per the Financial Times.
Following his exit, Dorsey had private communications with Musk in which he vented about the state of Twitter. As Musk’s planned Twitter takeover began to take shape in April, Dorsey hailed the development as the “singular solution I trust.” Mostly quiet from the sidelines, Dorsey has occasionally sparred with Musk over his public commentary on the Twitter drama since the $44 billion acquisition in October.
Musk has opened the company up to journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, and author Michael Shellenberger who have since released the Twitter Files in a series of threads detailing the company’s internal deliberations on censorship, Trump, the New York Post’s October 2020 Hunter Biden story, and more. Many of the revelations suggested that Dorsey was often not the point person on contentious moderation decisions.
“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. I do believe absolute transparency builds trust. As for the files, I wish they were released Wikileaks-style, with many more eyes and interpretations to consider,” Dorsey added. “I’m hopeful all of this will happen.”
Dorsey further contended that rather than a sole company or government spearheading moderation, individual people should “choose from algorithms that best match their criteria.” He iterated his past call for an “open protocol for social media” to steer power away from a centralized system.
“The problem today is that we have companies who own both the protocol and discovery of content, which ultimately puts one person in charge of what’s available and seen, or not. This is, by definition, a single point of failure,” Dorsey said.