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Jack Dorsey Owns The Dark Side of Twitter

Jack Dorsey takes full responsibility for the current state of Twitter; for better and worse.

You make decisions. Incremental decisions. You do what you think is right. You move on.

Jack Dorsey and his team at Twitter are trying to do the same thing. Twitter has come under fire, more so as of late, for fostering, albeit unintentionally, an environment filled with rampant polarizing conversations. "We only give you the ability to follow an account" says Dorsey. "Very few people follow accounts that have a completely different perspective than theirs" he followed with. This often leads to increased insular biases.

The interesting thing is that these were conscious decisions made early on in the days of Twitter. At the time, it seemed logical and it was, by all growth measurements, the right decision. The problem, with these decisions, is that they had unintended consequences, as Dorsey mentioned to Rich Roll on his podcast earlier this year.

This is the dilemma faced by product developers and entrepreneurs. There are 100's if not 1,000's of decisions that have to be made in order to get your product to market. And regardless of the testing or the number of user groups you consult with you cannot know the full extent of how those decisions are going to be received and then leveraged by your audience. This is unknowable.

Now, Jack and his team are trying to mitigate for these unintended consequences. He is not going to remove the ability of a user to follow accounts. That would be rash and have widespread potentially catastrophic impacts to the platform. He is doing something else. Twitter is actively developing measurements, he referred to as conversational thermometers, to gauge the health of conversations.


Four Social Thermometers Twitter is Developing

  • Shared Attention - the attention is on the same things

  • Shared Reality - are the facts shared or different (i.e., 99.9% say the world is round and .01% say it is flat)

  • Receptivity - how receptive are the participants to engaging in a civil way

  • Variety of Perspective - is it a high variety of perspective or a filter bubble or an echo chamber


Twitter is working with external researchers from MIT - Cortico Labs to develop these measurements with aspirations to apply them to talk radio and podcasting. Once these measurements are put in place the social platform can start testing various content curation strategies and measure how they deviate from the norm.

The intent of this move feels good. It feels good in a sector that has come under tremendous fire over the past few years as more and more people question the humanity of social media platforms.

I question it.

Do you?

Jack is leading his team through a tough time that they brought entirely on themselves. This might be you at some point, as well. You might not be the CEO of Twitter or Square but you might have made some decisions for your product offerings that had unintended consequences. Are you prepared to take ownerships? Are you prepared to mitigate for them? Jack Dorsey is.

- Nate Valentin

Check out the full episode of Rich Roll's podcast with Jack Dorsey here.

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