Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey had a few thoughts to share after New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said she’d be scaling back her use of the platform in a major way, calling it an “anger video game.”
Twitter has “stopped being a place where I could learn things I didn’t know,” Haberman wrote on Saturday. Instead, its full of “toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism.” Haberman — who has become one of the most prominent reporters in the country while covering the Trump White House — said she will be stepping away from Twitter, except when it comes to posting breaking news or her own stories.
Dorsey noticed Haberman’s column, and responded to several points in a Twitter thread this weekend. Twitter’s ability to amplify outrage is “def a problem,” wrote Dorsey. The exec responded to Haberman’s criticism that Twitter is a place where nuance and “thoughtful discussion” go to die, saying this is “what we’d like to fix the most.”
Dorsey said the company needs to focus more on “conversational dynamics,” and pointed to several areas it can improve, including organizing and giving more context to tweets. Twitter can also do a better job of identifying a user’s credibility, according to Dorsey. Haberman had said Twitter’s strength — it’s ability to give everyone a voice — had also become a negative, where users are treated as experts on a wide swath of topics.
On the complaint people are tweeting more, forcing users to routinely log back into “the Matrix,” Dorsey pointed to the platform’s ranking algorithm as a sign the company wants to streamline its feed. Twitter ranks tweets based on a combination of breaking news, as well as accounts and comments users have interacted with in the past. Still, there is “lots of work still to do,” according to Dorsey, when it comes to creating a better user experience.
“There is an important discussion about journalism that must take place, including about how all of us performed during the 2016 campaign, but Twitter is not where a nuanced or thoughtful discussion can happen.”
This is what we’d like to fix the most.
— jack (@jack) July 21, 2018
Dorsey’s response comes as Twitter continues to make critical changes to its platform. The exec had reached out to users in March, saying the company wanted to improve the “health of public conversation” on the app. Hiding troll tweets, a move introduced in May, is one way Twitter is looking to make its platform less of a breeding ground for internet bullies. Twitter has also been booting millions of bots in recent months, with 70 million fake accounts deleted between May and June.
Still, there’s “challenging work” ahead for Twitter, said Dorsey, in making the platform a place where famous reporters don’t want to run away from.