Following The New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman's criticisms of the platform, Dorsey has penned a response conceding the culture of Twitter needs change for it to remain a viable place for debate.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on July 23, 2018

Haberman, a widely respected White House correspondent at The New York Times has been a prolific tweeter, posting more than 187,000 messages on the social media platform.

In a recent article, however, she announced she was taking a step back.

“Twitter has stopped being a place where I could learn things I didn’t know, glean information that was free from errors about a breaking news story or engage in a discussion and be reasonably confident that people’s criticisms were in good faith,” she wrote.

“It is a place where people who are understandably upset about any number of things go to feed their anger, where the underbelly of free speech is at its most bilious.

“Tone often overshadows the actual news. All outrages appear equal. And that makes it harder for significant events — like Mr. Trump’s extraordinarily pliant performance with President Vladimir Putin of Russia — to break through.”

Haberman went on to say that the platform is “now an anger video game” for many users. She pointed to mindless partisanship, sexism and the deliberate spreading of misinformation.

Jack Dorsey agrees Twitter needs to do better

Now, Twitter CEO has written a Twitter thread largely agreeing with Haberman’s critique and saying Twitter will work to improve its algorithms to ensure a more useful and reliable source of information.

In one tweet, Dorsey replies to Haberman’s comment that “There is an important discussion about journalism that must take place, including about how all of us performed during the 2016 campaign, but Twitter is not where a nuanced or thoughtful discussion can happen.”

“This is what we’d like to fix the most,” Dorsey wrote.

Elsewhere, he vows to address the criticism of Twitter that it promotes expert voices and uninformed comment equally. He says that algorithms can go some way to determining credibility but doing this in real time is extremely challenging. He also says he would like Twitter to show more context and related conversation to users.

Twitter criticised for verifying extremists, culture of trolling and vitriol

Dorsey was also recently criticised by actor Seth Rogen for his “bizarre need to verify white supremacists.”

Rogen said he had been in a lengthy exchange with Dorsey about the issue and eventually concluded: “the dude simply does not seem to give a f***.”

Twitter’s decision to give the blue tick of verification to extremist groups and individuals has been criticised as giving them legitimacy and a platform.

Other figures in the media have also hit out at what they see as Twitter’s toxic culture. Last week, CNN journalist Chris Cilizza wrote he was “about done” with the platform after Twitter users mocked his son for having a peanut allergy.

“We are talking about a 9 year old,” Cilizza wrote. “Feel free to hate me. But don’t mock my son’s peanut allergy. Classless and indefensible.”

Header image: JD Lasica