Jack Dorsey is the co-founder and current chief executive officer of the social-media platform Twitter. Twitter famously lets users post brief messages — no more than 280 characters — as well as images and video. One of Twitter’s most famous users is the current president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. They have a contentious relationship. Trump loves Twitter (the site) but hates Twitter (the company).
Here’s Trump this morning, complaining vaguely that Twitter (the company) is unfairly limiting his reach by making it “hard for people to sign on” (????) and secretly making people unfollow him.
And here’s Trump this afternoon, meeting with Dorsey and some other staffers. (If I were a betting man, I would bet the T-man himself did not write this one.)
Ironically, the pair met to discuss Twitter, the public town square whose commitment to open dialogue and the “marketplace of ideas,” or whatever the hell it is, is never overstated. Was anything of substance said on either side? Who can say? (Again, Betting Man Brian jumping in here to place another bet: Nothing substantive was said.)
Dorsey was joined by Colin Crowell and Lauren Culbertson, who manage Twitter’s public-policy department. Vijaya Gadde, who runs legal, policy, and trust and safety at Twitter, said in an email to employees this morning, “There is no set agenda, but we expect for discussion to cover the health of the public conversation on Twitter,” according to Wired.
Dorsey has a bit of a soft spot for world leaders; Twitter, institutionally, does as well. Its rules have carveouts for political leaders to say racist, hateful, and deliberately misleading things in the service of transparency simply because they are world leaders. “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” the justification goes. In that spirit, I’d love to see, like, one quote from anyone at this meeting. A transcript would be even better.
This all mostly follows Dorsey’s standard line of thinking, which is that the mere existence of any type of dialogue matters about as much as what is said within that dialogue. In a follow-up email sent to staff obtained by Motherboard, Dorsey wrote, “As you know, I believe that conversation, not silence, bridges gaps and drives towards solutions,” creating some sort of metaphor in which the conversation is both the road and the car? “I have met with every world leader who has extended an invitation to me, and I believe the discussions have been productive, and the outcomes meaningful.” Sure.