Making Sense — Jack Dorsey

On: Jack Dorsey

Episode: 148

Date: February 2019

Key Subjects:

  • CEO of Twitter and Square.
  • General observation:
    • During 2016, journalists on the left barely followed any journalists on the right.
    • Journalists on the right followed many journalists on the left.
  • Twitter does not regard itself as a social network (like FB and others).
    • “We don’t benefit from the address book in your phone. We benefit from more of an interest based network, We benefit because of your interest in something.”
  • Twitter regards itself as a public communication platform (town square).
    • Market place of ideas.
  • Twitter’s existing policing policies are largely rule-based and may not be that effective.
  • Going forward, focused on encouraging a type of (positive) behavior, rather than policing bad behavior.
    • Health metaphor – find markers of “healthy conversation”.
      • Shared attention (what % of a conversation is attentive to the same thing vs. a wider range).
      • Shared reality (what % of the conversation is sharing the same facts).
      • Receptivity (toxicity and people’s desire to walk away from the conversation).
      • Variety of perspective.
    • Incentivize development of online identity and reputation (to battle harms of anonymity).
    • AI may help with implementation (AI that will need to be able to explain itself).
      • [Implementation would still require rules?]
  • Meditation and importance of self-improvement:
    • Basis for guiding principle / objective for Twitter: to make the use of Twitter rewarding in the sense of having learnt something.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ingredients for a healthy conversation: shared attention, shared reality, receptivity, variety of perspective, reputation.

Worth Listening:

Thoughtful but at times evasive / polished discussion of challenges faced by Twitter (trolling, lies, general toxicity). Could have spent more time discussing the implications of Twitter making certain (types of) content more or less accessible. No matter what position it end up taking, Twitter may not be able to avoid playing the role of an active media content selector.


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