Jack Dorsey says that Twitter makes it super easy – harassing and abusing others, and solving the problem is their biggest concern.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was criticized for failing to suppress abuse and false news on his platform.

Associated Press

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey spoke about harassment and misinformation on his platform in TED 2019 on Wednesday.
  • The day before, the reporter who broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal criticized Dorsey, among other tech magnates, for allowing abuse to spread in social media.
  • Dorsey said that Twitter is working to solve the problem, but acknowledged that "the system makes it super easy to harass and abuse others".
  • Dorsey said that if he could design Twitter again, he would not tell people "tanned", which does not encourage "healthy" content.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to the TED stage on Tuesday, just a day after he was criticized for abuse and misinformation on his social media platform.

Dorsey spoke to TED chief Chris Anderson and the conference's current affairs curator, Whitney Pennington Rodgers, about the controversy.

"We saw abuse, saw harassment, saw manipulation, automation, human coordination, misinformation," said Dorsey. "These are dynamics that we did not expect 13 years ago."

Dorsey said that his biggest concern was his ability to approach the problem systemically. He acknowledged that Twitter created a "pretty terrible situation" for women – and particularly for women of color – but said the company was relying more on machine learning to identify abusive tweets, rather than having people reporting them individually.

"Right now, the system makes it super easy to harass and abuse others," Dorsey said.

One of the problems with the current platform, he said, is the fact of putting undue weights on followers and tanned. Dorsey said that if he could come back and re-create Twitter, he "would not even have a count like that in the first place."

Even as the CEO was discussing his plans to combat abuse, he was pushed on and off the stage.

Carole Cadwalladr, the journalist who broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal, tweeted live questions to Dorsey, asking about her own experience with harassment on Twitter:

A day earlier, at TED, Cadwalladr referred to Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as "servants of authoritarianism" for allowing abuse to spread on social networks.

On stage, Chris Anderson continued to question why Dorsey had not addressed the issue more urgently. He joked with the CEO that the world was joining him on a "great trip" called "Twit-tanic," with the public warning him that there is an iceberg ahead.

"We're going to the bridge and you're exhibiting that great calm, but we're all going," Jack said, "turn the front wheel," Anderson said, laughing at both Dorsey and the crowd.

Check out Dorsey's full talk on TED below:

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