Services & Software

Dorsey says Twitter is best when it carries 'every voice'

The social network's CEO chats at Code Conference on why Twitter is a neutral platform for all users and also how it needs to be more safer and simple to use.

The question was posed simply and directly to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who isn't generally afraid of letting his feelings be known:

Do social networks have to be neutral?

During the Code Conference on Wednesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Dorsey said a social network needs to hear from "every extreme," no matter what, in order to strike the right balance.

"I think a platform is best when it carries every voice," he said. "I believe we need to build a platform that respects and amplifies every voice in a way that the world needs to hear it.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, left, says at Code Conference 2016 that social networks should be neutral platforms where voices from all backgrounds can be heard. #BlackLivesMatter leader DeRay Mckesson, right, shares a similar view.

Asa Mathat/Vox Media

"So I think a platform, in order to be a platform, has to be free to every opinion and every voice, and I think we need to hear them all."

While the nearly 40-minute long conversation with Dorsey didn't focus on Twitter's nitty-gritty issues, such as its stagnant user growth, continued investor angst over the company's falling stock, and the recent departures of two key executives, it touched on other important issues. Those included on how the platform could be made simpler and safer to use and how it better product overall.

Dorsey shared the spotlight with activist DeRay Mckesson, a Twitter power user/insider and one of the more prominent voices in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The two met during the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago.

Mckesson said he regularly gets death threats and racial slurs due to his political stances and has blocked more than 19,000 people on Twitter. And that doesn't stop the recent Baltimore mayoral candidate from speaking his mind.

"I think the question is how do we invite more people into the conversation?" Mckesson said. "For us, again, [the Ferguson] protest was this idea of telling the truth in public, and it was important that people who would otherwise not have a platform to be heard, were heard."

Mckesson, who tries Twitter products before they are released publicly, said he likes the platform the way it is but offers some advice.

"I think Twitter should expand and innovate," he said. "I don't want to wake up one day and have Twitter become a different version of Facebook...There's no platform that has a real world impact the way [Twitter] does."

Dorsey was later asked how long is he giving himself to turn the company around. He said his focus is on "velocity" and solidifying the real-time aspect that people turn to Twitter first for.

Dorsey also was asked about how Twitter is dealing with violent entities, including ISIS. He said Twitter has shut down more than 125,000 accounts. "We certainly get help from governments all over the world in pointing out these accounts," he said.

He also acknowledged that the platform could be simpler to use.

Dorsey, who is also the CEO of mobile payments company Square, said he still continues to split his time between both companies. He said he's able to do it by having the right people who can also influence him.

"Is this someone that I will learn from? That's better than me? That will teach me something new and how to run the company better?," he said.

Dorsey remained steadfast that he can continue running two companies simultaneously.

"It's what you do with the time," he said.