Twitter's @jack talks Trump, NFL and curbing abuse

In a rare Q&A, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey shares his thoughts about the president, preventing harassment and the company's future.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
2 min read

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey thinks having US President Donald Trump tweet is beneficial, not streaming NFL games will have no significant impact and says the platform is making "phenomenal" progress curbing harassment.

Dorsey touched on those topics during a interview Wednesday with online site Backchannel. Regarding Trump, the Twitter co-founder said the president has been fairly consistent. He also isn't surprised Trump hasn't stopped tweeting, despite the commander in chief previously saying he would be "very restrained."

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CEO Jack Dorsey says Twitter has a "real strong handle" in curbing bullying and harassment on the platform.

Getty Images

"If you were him, why change the momentum of what made you win in the first place?" said Dorsey, adding that it's important there are "open channels" like Twitter to keep world leaders accountable, despite their views.

"Any time we have any leader tweet, including Trump, there's a very interesting and thriving conversation. A mixture of fact checking, disagreement, agreement, and some random things," he said.

Dorsey's comments come after Twitter on Wednesday reported better-than-expected first quarter earnings and a slight uptick in user growth. Despite now having 328 million users, Twitter still lags behind rivals Facebook-owned Instagram with its 700 million users and Facebook's nearly 2 billion users.

As far as taking steps to curb abusive behavior on the platform, Dorsey admitted that his company was "slow" tackling the issue last year despite widespread criticism. This includes comedian Leslie Jones briefly abandoning Twitter last summer after enduring what she called a "personal hell" of sexist and racist abuse. The company subsequently banned Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos for his ties to that incident.

"We made it a priority last year, but to be very frank and honest ... our progress is not something that we are proud of," Dorsey said when asked if the company had failed.

By late December, Twitter began focusing on combating bullying and harassment and added even more options for reporting abusive tweets. Since then, Dorsey said the company is making is "phenomenal" progress, proclaiming that Twitter now has a "strong handle" on the matter.

"We didn't prioritize it in the right way, but now we have," he said.

Dorsey said streaming video remains a priority despite being outbid by e-commerce giant Amazon for the rights to stream NFL Thursday night football games for a second season for a reported $50 million.

Dorsey said streaming the NFL brought a lot of attention, but Twitter's video strategy still centers around news, sports, entertainment and business because that's "what people are talking about" on the platform.

"The NFL is going to Amazon," he said. "But the conversation will still be on Twitter."

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