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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey chats with Desus & Mero: 3 takeaways from the interview

Dorsey weighs in on the edit button and calls to ban President Trump from the platform.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey chats with Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, who host a late-night show on Showtime. ViacomCBS owns Showtime and CNET.
Screenshot by Queenie Wong/CNET

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey video chatted with comedians and TV hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero on Wednesday, weighing in on various topics from how his company approaches coronavirus misinformation to whether users will ever get a feature to edit their tweets. (Disclosure: Desus & Mero airs on Showtime. Both Showtime and CNET are owned by ViacomCBS.)

The hour-long live chat came on the same day the social network said it would remove tweets that could incite people to damage or destroy "critical infrastructure," such as cell phone towers. Twitter has seen tweets that wrongly link 5G to coronavirus and encourage people to destroy the cell phone towers. Like other social networks, Twitter has faced criticism it isn't doing enough to crack down on coronavirus misinformation. It's also come under fire for leaving up tweets from President Donald Trump that could encourage people not to social distance during a pandemic.

Here are three takeaways from the interview:

Twitter users won't be getting an edit button anytime soon

Twitter users have been asking the company for many years for a way to edit tweets so they can correct typos.

It still doesn't seem like that's going to happen anytime soon. The idea, though, isn't completely off the table.

"Anything is possible, especially an edit button," Dorsey said.

But Dorsey also pointed out various challenges that come with releasing an edit button. Someone could tweet that they love something and that message could get retweeted by their followers. But when they edit the message they could completely change the meaning of the tweet.

"You say, 'I hate XYZ,' and then they've just retweeted something that they originally didn't retweet," he said.

The company could also put a 30-second window to allow users to correct tweets before they're sent. The only problem is that users also want to send out information quickly, especially if they're commenting on a live event such as a basketball game. 

There are possible solutions to these challenges, but Dorsey said that building an edit button isn't high on the company's priority list.

Dorsey's $1 billion pledge to help combat the coronavirus focuses on underserved communities

On April 7, Dorsey tweeted that he would commit $1 billion of his holdings in Square, a payments company he also runs, to help combat the coronavirus. The money from Square's equity would flow into a limited liability company Dorsey created called Start Small and there's a public Google document that shows how the funding is being spent.

Since then, Dorsey has teamed up with musician Rhianna to set up a $4.2 million grant program to help domestic violence victims during the pandemic. He's also been talking to Navajo Nation, an American Indian territory.

A big focus of the fund will be Africa, he said. Dorsey was planning to spend up to six months there but has backpedaled on those plans after the coronavirus outbreak. 

Start Small has a $15 million reserve that's already been depleted. The company should get access to $200 million this week, he said.

"One of the awesome things about this model is as Square grows in value, in terms of its stock price, the fund has more to access," he said.

Twitter doesn't want to be the 'arbiter of truth' 

Dorsey was asked if Twitter would possibly ban Trump from the platform for a month for spreading misinformation. 

His response: "labeling" will come in handy. The social network has said before it will add a warning label to tweets from world leaders that violate its rules but are left up because of public interest. The company hasn't used that label yet on any of Trump's tweets.

Twitter has cracked down on coronavirus tweets from the presidents of Brazil and Venezuela and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that clash with guidance from "authoritative sources of global and local public health information."

Users also have the ability to reply or quote tweets and point out they include misinformation. Tweets from politicians also appear on TV or on websites, Dorsey said.

"The cat's already out of the bag," he said, adding that the company could provide more context or display disagreements about a topic.

Labeling can be used to combat other types of misinformation.

"It's less about free speech and it's more about who should be the arbiter of truth," Dorsey said.

People and credible institutions can weigh in on possible misinformation, but it's not necessarily Twitter's role to determine what is fake news and what is not, he said.