Twitter Has a Troll Problem and Needs Your Help, Says CEO Jack Dorsey

Co-founder wants to fund research on making Twitter less toxic

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Getty Images

Twitter has become a wasteland for trolls to thrive, CEO Jack Dorsey said on Thursday — and he’s looking for help in changing it.

“We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers,” Dorsey said in an early morning tweetstorm. “We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”

Dorsey said the social media giant has been accused of “optimizing for our businesses and share price instead of the concerns of society” as its been looking to curb the spread of misinformation. Twitter, along with Facebook, has been criticized for allowing Kremlin-funded trolls to leverage its platform. The San Francisco-based company announced earlier this year it was notifying 675,000 U.S. users that had interacted with Russian trolls. Twitter has also grappled with its often inconsistent approach to punishing accounts that violate its policies.

The chief exec added the company has been looking for a way to make Twitter a more welcoming environment by measuring the “health of public conversation” on the app. Rather than reacting to toxic comments, Twitter is now looking to foster worthwhile conversations, tweeted Dorsey.  He pointed to three traits in particular: collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation.

Dorsey then asked for his followers to propose metrics for the company to measure, sharing a submission form that’s available until April 13. Applicants picked by Twitter will receive funding for their organizations’ research.

Dorsey’s series of tweets echoed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s mea culpa last November, saying he was “dead serious” about eliminating fake news. Dorsey finished by saying he’ll hold a Periscope conversation next week to elaborate on the game plan for making Twitter more hospitable.