We Can Look at What We Are Incentivizing, Says Twitter CEO

Apr 03

“We can look at what we are incentivizing,” says Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “We can look at the very foundational nature of the service and making sure we are not incentivizing behaviors that would take away from health. Those are the questions that we are asking and it will lead to some fundamental shifts in how the service works and how people experience it.”

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO and co-founder, discusses how the platform will change in order to improve conversational health in an interview on Bloomberg Markets and Finance:

Conversational Health Is Our Top Priority

Conversational health (is our top priority at Twitter). Incentivizing more healthy contribution to the public conversation. We’ve seen abuse. We’ve seen harassment. We’ve seen people leave our platform because of it. We’ve seen voices being silenced because of what’s happening on the service. That is number one. We can’t build a platform of speech, a platform of conversation, and a service that will remain relevant to people if people don’t feel safe to speak up in the first place. For all those who believe in free expression and for all those who believe in free speech it’s critical that we are not utilizing technologies like Twitter to shut down voices and to silence others.

A lot of our policies, enforcement, and now more and more so technology, is aimed at addressing this problem. It’s never going to be fully solved. It’s one of those things that you just have to constantly iterate. Perfection is not a goal. We need to give people much better controls over their experience and we need to do more of the work for them. We need to take away the burden of reporting harassment or abuse. We need to utilize technology better to automatically identify it’s happening or where there’s a high probability of it happening so that people don’t necessarily have to see it when they didn’t ask to get into the fray.

I Think Regulation is a Good Thing

Generally, I think regulation is a good thing. It’s a net positive. I think our role as a company should be that of an educator, helping regulators and legislatures understand what’s happening with technology. The secular trends that we are seeing and aware of and how the system works. The job of the regulator is to ensure protection of the individual and a level playing field. As long as we are working together on that then it has good outcomes. I haven’t looked at all the specific feedback to Mark (Zuckerburg’s) post.

I generally think that there are things like GDPR that have been a net positive not just for our platform but also for the industry in general. Specifically, it adds a lot more clarity around privacy and adds a lot more clarity around how data is being used. Typically, with a service like ours our terms of service are a little bit hard to read and a little bit hard to follow and not necessarily the most customer-focused thing. GDPR put a stake in the ground to at least bring out some elements that you have a lot more control over. I think that’s a net positive. If there is more room for that, then yes absolutely.

We Can Look at What We Are Incentivizing

There’s not going to be any one party that’s responsible for fixing this. Putting too much of that weight on any one entity, whether it be a corporation, an individual, a government, is just not going to work. We have to think about it a little bit differently. We have to think about it as a desire. Our purpose is to serve the public conversation. Our desire is to incentivize and increase healthy conversation.

For that, we can look much deeper. We can look at what we are incentivizing. We can look at the very foundational nature of the service and making sure we are not incentivizing behaviors that would take away from health. Today, there are areas where I think we are. Those are the questions that we are asking and it will lead to some fundamental shifts in how the service works and how people experience it.

Move Away From MAU is Better Aligned With the Value We Provide

We want to provide utility to people that’s valuable every single day. Our purpose of serving the public conversation, of answering the question what’s happening, that a question that you ask every single day and multiple times a day. We want to be measured internally by the value we bring to someone every single day. We need to make sure that we are not just utilizing that understanding and that goal internally, but also externally people hold us accountable to that as well. The move away from MAU (monthly active users) is better aligned with what we want to do and what we want to be and the value that we want to provide the world.

I don’t think it is a general movement away from MAU because there are services that are valuable on a monthly basis rather than a daily basis. There are some services that are valuable on a weekly basis rather than a daily or monthly basis. I think any entrepreneur, any leader of a service like ours, needs to look deeply at what they are goaling around and how they are thinking about driving their service and their business. Then make sure there is no dissonance between what we say internally and what we say externally.

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