In which I fail to cheer for @Jack’s return to #Twitter

A lot of people (well certain people) have been fussing about Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returning to the company as it’s new CEO. While I think he’ll easily be better than his predecessor Dick Costolo, I see no cause to celebrate.

The magic in Twitter has always been the connections between people and the ability to grow and connect communities of people. The Arab Spring is the most famous and impactful example of this, but “Black Twitter” is a more current illustration. It’s a large and decentralized community which is having a real impact on people’s lives through connection, cultural critique, and shining a light on police brutality via #BlackLivesMatter.

Today I followed a link posted by a friend from back when there were only handful of us on Twitter. It was a collection of reactions of “Twitter influencers” to Jack’s return. They were all white, a couple were my friends. Responses ranged from “we’ll see” to “Jack is my BFF.” There was not a single concern raised. It should come as no surprise that all of the white, male CEOs of Twitter were hired by a board which is itself nearly all white men (with the exception of a few Asian men and one very powerful woman.

Twitter has been making moves to try to compete with media companies (and Facebook) by pushing big news and events, memes that trend via their mysterious algorithm, and celebrity tweeters. This ground has been covered and there will always be someone who does that better than them. Twitter’s unique value proposition is the ability to find and directly connect with real people who you don’t already know but who add value to your life. To be a participant in a movement (whether it’s for democracy or your favorite TV show) rather than just a consumer. I have rarely seen Twitter’s corporate policies show that they understand or appreciate this value. In addition, their continuing lack of interest in doing anything serious about the pervasive abuse of women online further shows that they just don’t care about us, the users that give their platform meaning.

So I wrote a few tweets about this, but it’s hard to convey the complexity and the importance of this in 140 characters so I wanted to expand in this blog post. If you share my concerns, I’d appreciate a retweet or other show of solidarity.

2 thoughts on “In which I fail to cheer for @Jack’s return to #Twitter

  1. Thanks for bringing this up, strangely thought my voice was the only one. Did you watch the keynote? Or is as your article suggests based only off the reaction. Either way is fine. Having watched the 6m opening with Jack, he was slick as a bible salesman. But he did ask for the development community to give feedback.

    For he not only framed it around #BlackLivesMatter but bookended it with #iLookLikeAnEngineer. Clearly framing Twitter’s power at the praxis of conversation around Racism & Sexism. Which was a great way to open. Then talking about conversations, transparency, and rebooting this relationship with developers had a sly politicians triangulation to it.

    Like you, I’m skeptical, even perhaps cynical. Well more cynical than normal to be honest. Yet I’d hope that, the influencers in your link, and the developers in the industry do hold him accountable (or make enough noise) because as we all know talk is cheap, it is in the actions.

    Also of note, not just women, but the entire LGBQTA spectrum which comes in a bunch of non-binary options face repeated harassment & abuse as well and rarely get included as we fight for better tools to handle them.

    For as we know until we are all free, none of us are. Thanks for your post.

  2. Thank you for this comment. No, I hadn’t watched the keynote. I’m not in social media professionally anymore and I tire quickly of start-up celebrities. I completely agree on the issues of harassment impacting more than women. In fact even a mild-mannered guy can be targeted if he mentions “Gamer Gate” in the wrong light. So glad to hear I’m not alone in these concerns.

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