Jack Dorsey is considering overhauling core elements of Twitter

16 Aug 2018

Twitter app on mobile phone. Image: Sino Studio/Shutterstock

In the wake of backlash against Twitter for its management of the Alex Jones controversy, Jack Dorsey says changes may be on the way.

Following a sustained period of criticism against the company for its delayed response in dealing with Infowars’ Alex Jones, Twitter recently banned the controversial figure from posting for a week.

While many argue that this is still a weak solution, Jack Dorsey himself told NBC News that a permanent ban may not have an effect on Jones. “Whether it works within this case to change some of those behaviours and change some of those actions, I don’t know.”

Jack Dorsey says change may be coming

On Wednesday (15 August), Dorsey told The Washington Post that experimental features might be coming down the line. He said he was considering features to promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline as well as developing a bot labelling system.

Elements of the interface may also change, including the ‘like’ button and the way follower counts appear on a profile.

One such solution is to surround tweets containing disinformation with factual context. Dorsey said this could help users “make judgements for themselves”.

US president Donald Trump’s presence on Twitter has been criticised for a long time now, but Dorsey said it is important his profile remains active to show users how “global leaders think and treat the people around them”.

He added that the most important thing was to revisit the incentives Twitter used to shape how people behave on the service. “Because they do express a point of view of what we want people to do – and I don’t think they are correct any more.”

Dorsey explained that Twitter’s core incentives have not changed during the company’s existence. “We often turn to policy to fix a lot of these issues, but I think that is only treating surface-level symptoms that we are seeing.”

The issue facing Twitter in terms of policing those who violate policy is one facing all social media platforms today. “The platforms cannot win because some constituency will be offended no matter what they do,” said Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor.

Twitter app on mobile phone. Image: Sino Studio/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects