Jack Dorsey’s Exit From Twitter Could Worsen Tech Censorship

Jack Dorsey is now Twitter CEO. He has been with the company for several years and held various leadership positions since 2007.

In a statement, he stated: “I have decided to leave Twitter as I believe that the company is ready for me to move on with its founders.”

While Facebook has attracted significantly more attention in recent months, due to widespread concerns—some of them overblown—that the site spreads hate and misinformation and is making teenagers depressed, Twitter is the preferred site of the media and political classes. While the number of users in Twitter’s virtual nest is significantly lower than that on Facebook (2 billion vs 300 million), it has an important role to play in policy discussions. The news media could be affected if there are significant changes in the leadership.

Anyone who harbors concerns that social media have already grown too intolerant of dissenting opinions—too inclined to silence viewpoints that depart from liberal orthodoxy—should be worried about Dorsey leaving. This is because Dorsey’s long-serving CEO occasionally expressed an ideological commitment the principles of freedom speech. He was, by far, the most hostile of all tech industry leaders who were brought before Congress in order to answer bizarre questions.

Although Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, has endorsed Section 230’s modification, which could allow Congress to have more control over content moderation policies and laws, Twitter is still opposed to any increased regulation. Lauren Culbertson was Twitter’s U.S. policy head when I interviewed her for my book. Tech PanicShe warned that Section 230 would “entrench incumbents” as well as “stifle competition and innovation.” Twitter declined to take down the account of then-President Donald Trump when activists sued it, citing Section 233. Trump may now be gone from Twitter—having finally behaved in a way that manifestly violated the site’s policies—but without both the protections of Section 230 and Dorsey’s support for free speech, the site might have acted much earlier and in much more heavy-handed fashion. Many progressive media leaders and politicians in the Democratic Party wish that Trump had acted sooner.

Twitter’s Board unanimously approved Parag Agrawal (current chief technical officer) as their new CEO. Bluesky is Agrawal’s primary project on Twitter. This initiative aims to establish an open, decentralized standard for social networking that will help improve control over misleading and abusive information. Agrawal stated that Twitter should be less concerned with free speech in an interview from a year back.

He stated that “Our role doesn’t have to be limited by the First Amendment. But our role to serve a healthy, public conversation is ours and our actions reflect what we think will help to foster a better public discussion.” We should be thinking less about freedom speech but more about changing times.

Agrawal corrects that Twitter doesn’t have to adhere to the First Amendment. However, Twitter can take any moderation decision it likes as it pleases. However, Twitter under Dorsey was able to host wide-ranging conversations on political issues, despite some questionable moderation choices. Dorsey has refused pressure by both Republican and Democratic legislators to make the company more align with their views. It remains to be determined if Agrawal will follow suit.