Twitter’s co-founder apologized for President Trump’s win, calling the company’s role in that “a very bad thing.”
Evan Williams, a current Twitter board member told the New York Times that “the Internet is broken.”
President Trump has said he believes Twitter put him in the White House. Recently, Mr. Williams heard the claim for the first time. He mulled it over for a bit, sitting in his Medium office, which is noteworthy only for not having a desk.
“It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that,” he said finally. “If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.”
This could be either true remorse, or it could be the NYT’s David Streitfeld fishing for a good quote to throw at the White House–which he did and received no comment.
The Washington Post went on to try and answer the question raised by its liberal ideological ally and economic competitor. Did Trump win because of Twitter?
In March, as Trump’s wiretapping claims caused another spate of White House chaos, Carlson asked Trump, “Is there anyone in the White House who can say to you, Mister President, please don’t tweet that, who you’d listen to?” Tucker Carlson asked Trump in March.
“Let me tell you about Twitter,” Trump replied. “I think maybe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Twitter.”
It appears Trump believes he needed Twitter. But did Twitter need Trump?
On the other hand, a research analyst told the Motley Fool that Trump’s tweets are probably helping the platform gain users. The company’s stock soared after it beat market expectations in its quarterly report in April — though it still lost tens of millions of dollars.
A good number of Trump’s followers are “fake accounts” (45 percent)–bots, trolls, and other Internet malefactors. Those aren’t the kinds of eyeballs Twitter needs to make money. But the company, while attempting to address the general problem of harassment and trolling, didn’t do anything to inhibit Trump.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey banned Trump supporters such as Milo Yiannopoulos, but never dared touch Trump himself.
But Twitter’s CEO denied any “alignment” between Twitter and Trump.
“It’s more that he’s found a tool that’s useful for him,” Dorsey said, “and I think a lot of other people have found use in having a conversation about how he’s using it and what he thinks.”
It may have been mutually beneficial for both Trump and Twitter to share a platform. But apologizing now for November of last year seems a bit late, and disingenuous. Williams should have kept his mouth shut and not given the NYT the quote they obviously were looking for.