Co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey has waded into the current state of Twitter under the controversial ownership of Elon Musk – a move that Dorsey supported.

Dorsey in a blog post about the ‘Twitter Files’, admitted mistakes were made under his watch at the platform, but also said Twitter still has significant problems.

Earlier this week Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey seemed to clash online, after Dorsey directly contradicted a Musk statement calling it “false”, after Musk had disbanded Twitter’s volunteer Trust and Safety Council – one hour before it was due to meet with him.

Former Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey

Mistakes were made

Dorsey didn’t mention Elon Musk by name in his blog post. But he made it clear that the company he once led still had significant problems then and now.

In the blog post Dorsey reaffirmed his belief in three principles about how social media should be handled.

  • Social media must be resilient to corporate and government control;
  • Only the original author may remove content they produce;
  • Moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice.

“The Twitter when I led it and the Twitter of today do not meet any of these principles,” he wrote. “This is my fault alone, as I completely gave up pushing for them when an activist entered our stock in 2020. I no longer had hope of achieving any of it as a public company with no defense mechanisms (lack of dual-class shares being a key one). I planned my exit at that moment knowing I was no longer right for the company.”

“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,” Dorsey wrote.

It should be remembered however that like other social media platforms, Twitter is legally obliged to remove illegal hate speech under laws in jurisdictions including the UK and the EU, and Musk has reportedly told EU regulators he will abide by those rules.

“This burdened the company with too much power, and opened us to significant outside pressure (such as advertising budgets),” Dorsey added. “I generally think companies have become far too powerful, and that became completely clear to me with our suspension of Trump’s account. As I’ve said before, we did the right thing for the public company business at the time, but the wrong thing for the internet and society.”

Elon Musk reinstated Donald Trump’s account in November, but the former US President is preferring to stick with his Truth Social platform.

Twitter files

And Dorsey seemed to dismiss Elon Musk’s belief that the ‘Twitter Files’ exposes the platform’s bias against the right wing and conservatives in its content moderation decisions.

“I continue to believe there was no ill intent or hidden agendas, and everyone acted according to the best information we had at the time,” wrote Dorsey.

“Of course mistakes were made. But if we had focused more on tools for the people using the service rather than tools for us, and moved much faster towards absolute transparency, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation of needing a fresh reset (which I am supportive of),” he wrote. “Again, I own all of this and our actions, and all I can do is work to make it right.”

Dorsey also continued to promote the idea of a “free and open protocol for social media” that isn’t owned by any one person or company as the only way to adhere to his stated principles.

Dorsey cited the Twitter organised non-profit Bluesky, as well as Mastodon and Matrix, as emerging projects that could potentially live up to his view of what constitutes a free and open social media protocol.

Many disillusioned Twitter users have begun moving to other platforms, mostly Mastodon that has seen its user base double after Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

“The problem today is that we have companies who own both the protocol and discovery of content,” Dorsey wrote. “Which ultimately puts one person in charge of what’s available and seen, or not.”

Dorsey also indicated that he will begin donating $1 million to the Signal messaging app.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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