After his company engaged in a highly controversial act of censorship by banning a US president, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is now talking about the virtues of the open internet and decentralized technology – and worrying that large tech companies might have too much power.
While still defending the unprecedented move to ban President Trump as “the right decision for Twitter” – Dorsey at the same time said he took no pride in the move and expressed his fear that it may set a dangerous precedent. Not to mention the obvious (though he did) – bans prevent conversations, while promoting them has been Twitter's declarative goal as a platform.
He came up with these contradictory ideas in a series of tweets meant to address and justify Twitter's role in the wave of censorship that the Silicon Valley engaged in after last week's Capitol Hill unrest.
The deplatforming of the president was started by Twitter and followed by Facebook and Google, who banned him from YouTube. Dorsey wrote that he thinks they did this because they found Trump's content to be dangerous, but that their actions are not coordinated.
He also provided an interesting glimpse into how decisions are made inside these centralized social media giants when he added that those who opted for the ban may have been “emboldened by the actions of others.”
And when so many of the largest companies deny access to a user, that means the argument that they can go elsewhere no longer holds water, he admitted.
Dorsey then went on to say that while he believes this type of policy was unavoidable now, it will be destructive to the open internet in the long run, and acknowledge that his company is enforcing its policies inconsistently and without proper transparency.
With that out of the way, the Twitter CEO next professed his love of Bitcoin because it is built on top of technology that makes it free, open, and decentralized, and therefore not controlled or influenced by anybody – in other words, all the things Twitter is not.
But Dorsey apparently wants to get there, and for that reason he reminded his followers about Bluesky, a now largely forgotten project the company announced over a year ago, that aims to “develop an open and decentralized standard for social media.”
Since Jack Dorsey's first mention of a new standard of open tech back in 2019, Twitter has gotten significantly worse for free expression. Banning people for questioning their government was a new low and then moderating governments all over the world showed Twitter was drunk on power.
Dorsey says he likes Bitcoin because it's a “foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity.”
But the spirit and simplicity of that principle with regards to speech could be implemented on Twitter now, at least in policy, regardless of technology.
There's no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to free speech – it has been debated and refined for millennia by better minds than Jack Dorsey, and opponents of it have always been history's villains. Complex times require simple rules.