Five Takeaways from Rolling Stone‘s Jack Dorsey Interview

The 7,000-word Q&A is so much more than just the part about the goat Mark Zuckerberg killed with a laser.

Rolling Stone got the CEO of Twitter to yak on record, and Jack Dorsey has some things he wanted to get off his chest. It’s not quite as jaw-dropping as New York Magazine‘s interview with Quincy Jones in which he said Ringo sucks and revealed who really killed JFK, but there are some choice bits, such as what a punk he used to be, how he admires the Wizard of Oz — as in the faux-wizard behind the curtain — and how coding allowed him to control his dreams.

You should read it in full because it’s quite illuminating, but here are the five points that jump out the hardest.

Dorsey Is Probably Off the Zuckerberg-Chan Holiday Card List
Initially, Dorsey calls Elon Musk “ridiculous” and says that Mark Zuckerberg is “a very, very smart businessman.” But then goes on to relate the story of The Time Zuck Served Him a Goat That He Maybe Killed With a Laser Gun and It Was Too Cold to Eat.

I guess he kills it. He kills it with a laser gun and then the knife. Then they send it to the butcher. … I don’t know. A stun gun. They stun it, and then he knifed it. Then they send it to a butcher. Evidently in Palo Alto there’s a rule or regulation that you can have six livestock on any lot of land, so he had six goats at the time. I go, “We’re eating the goat you killed?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Have you eaten goat before?” He’s like, “Yeah, I love it.” I’m like, “What else are we having?” “Salad.” I said, “Where is the goat?” “It’s in the oven.” Then we waited for about 30 minutes. He’s like, “I think it’s done now.” We go in the dining room. He puts the goat down. It was cold. That was memorable. I don’t know if it went back in the oven. I just ate my salad.

Dorsey is an ex-vegan.

He Seems to Imply That We’re All Overreacting About This Whole ‘Nazis on Twitter’ Thing
“[The topics of] abuse and our policies have been much more pronounced recently. And it comes in the form of categorizing people as Nazis and wanting them removed,” Dorsey says. “People are definitely not satisfied with our progress there.” 

Does Dorsey mean the progress of Nazi removal is real and Twitter users have been insufficiently appreciative? And maybe that social-justice types are classifying people as Nazis willy-nilly simply in order to ban people they don’t like? Sure reads that way. He also states, fairly definitively that “There are not self-professed Nazis” on Twitter, an obvious falsehood that Rolling Stone pushed back on and which TechCrunch called out last fall.

Dorsey is sad he lost Seth Rogen over this issue, though.

But He’s Candid About Twitter’s Other Flaws
“I’m not proud of that,” he says. “Like, we definitely help divide people. We definitely create isolation. We definitely make it easy for people to confirm their own bias. We’ve only given them one tool, which is follow an account that will 90 percent confirm whatever bias you have. And it doesn’t allow them to seek other perspectives. It contributes to tribalism. It contributes to nationalism.”

He’s a Punk Who Worked at 924 Gilman (Although He Also Says, “I’m Not That Cool”)
Regarding Laura Loomer, the far-right conspiracy fantasist who chained herself to a door at Twitter’s headquarters and recently tried to break into Nancy Pelosi’s house, Dorsey says, “I respect that. I think it’s brave. I love activists. I love protest. I’m a punk. My music when I was growing up was punk. Hackers are punk. It’s questioning the system, not because you hate it but because you want to make it better. I respect her desire to make Twitter better.” 

Respect or not, Loomer is still banned from Twitter — and from many other apps, including Uber.

He’s Just As Addicted to Twitter As Anyone
This is actually a pretty good response to the issue of people mindlessly checking Twitter. After admitting he checks it “nonstop” during elections and basketball games, Dorsey also says he switches to “recent tweets” from “most-relevant tweets.” He also confesses to feeling “overwhelmed.” But mostly he wants people to close the app having learned something every time.

I know this is gonna sound way out there, because we’re nowhere near what I’m about to say, but when I close the app, I want to have learned something new. We’re just so far off. If I asked anyone in this restaurant, “After closing Twitter, did you learn anything?” Most of them are gonna say no, or they learned something they already knew. Ultimately, I want every single person that uses Twitter to not spend hours, or days, or minutes consuming content, but [instead] to be notified when there’s something that potentially they could learn from, and, to the highest degree, that they’d want to participate in a conversation around it. That, to me, would contribute to the health aspect. Like, I’d walk away from Twitter feeling empowered, I’d feel more informed, I’d feel happy. Right now, I just feel overwhelmed, because I don’t think I’m learning anything new, ultimately.

Overall, Dorsey’s explanations of his platform don’t always add up. At one point, he compares Twitter to a public park with people watching one another — a metaphor that is basically one notch above the “neutral platform” canard that Silicon Valley used in its defense for years. But then he turns around and says, in response to episodes like Sarah Huckabee Sanders spreading faked videos of a CNN reporter physically handling a White House intern, that “We can amplify the counter-narrative. We do have a curation team that looks to find balance.” So just how hands-on is Twitter’s staff when policing their own platform? You will likely come away feeling immensely frustrated that Jack Dorsey seems to be a generally good person with a conscience who is nonetheless paid to be willfully blind to the worst, most intractable facets of Twitter.

As usual, read the whole thing.

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