Twitter’s former CEO Jack Dorsey might now spend his days as CEO of Block and a “Professional Friend of Jay-Z,” but before he took his blockchain evangelism full-time, he was a social media bigwig — and he regrets it.
Dorsey admitted over the weekend that he played a role in the centralization of the internet into a few social media platforms, and that the change hasn’t been a good one.
Regrets — Jack Dorsey posted the following, surprisingly candid tweet, on Saturday, April 2nd:
Dorsey believes that the internet used to be more open and exciting. “The days of usenet, IRC, the web...even email (with PGP)...were amazing,” Dorsey writes. “Centralizing discovery and identity into corporations really damaged the internet.”
The centralization he’s referring to is the rise of social media platforms. Since their individual launches, Facebook and Twitter have not only become the de facto home pages for plenty of internet users. They’ve also helped — along with app stores — to abstract away the central metaphor of the web. Why go to a website when you can get news, entertainment, and talk to your friends, all in one app? As a creator of Twitter, Dorsey is directly responsible for some of that shift.
“Centralizing discovery and identity into corporations really damaged the internet.”
Decentralization — It’s important to not overstate Twitter’s influence — it’s not as big or far-reaching as Facebook, whose user count is in the billions. But it has situated itself as a key part of the news ecosystem. If you want to follow an event as it’s happening, there’s probably a Twitter thread for it. Journalists harp on the platform’s influence because at some point we all decided it would be our personal hell, but it still shapes online conversation to some degree.
Dorsey’s comments sound unusual because he financially benefited from the problem he believes Twitter helped create, but they aren’t unfounded. Part of Block’s mission (besides having a great website) is making financial services and decentralized tech more accessible to the average person. Maybe Jack can atone for the sins of the past by making Block the biggest and most easily accessible provider of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. Kind of a central, one-stop shop for all things decentralized. What could go wrong?