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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Resigns As CTO Parag Agrawal Takes Reins

Twitter announced on Monday that CEO Jack Dorsey has stepped down from his position. Replacing him with be CTO Parag Agrawal. The company noted Dorsey will remain on the Board until his term expires at the 2022 stockholders meeting.

Dorsey commented on the exit, stating his belief that the company is set to continue on without his input while also expressing his confidence in Agrawal’s abilities to take over in his role as CEO.

“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders. My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It’s his time to lead.”

In an email he tweeted out, Dorsey discussed the idea of the importance of a company being “founder-led,” which he called as being “severely limited” and a “single point of failure.” As to why he’s not staying or becoming chair, Dorsey stated he thinks that Parag needs the space in order for him to efficiently lead.

In addition to co-founding the social media microblogging network back in 2006, the 45-year-old Dorsey also co-founded — and operates as CEO of — Square, a digital payment company. Dorsey, who has a net worth of $11.9 billion, might not be the typical image of a tech giant founder – his laid-back, hippie attitude is a unique (and criticized) presence in the industry.

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This isn’t Dorsey’s first time stepping down from a chief position – he served as CEO from 2007 to 2008 before being pushed out of the role by tech entrepreneur Evan Williams. Following the creation of Square, Dosey rejoined Twitter in 2011 before reclaiming the CEO title in 2015.

When it comes to the economic impact, Yahoo! Finance explains that Dorsey’s departure is actually good for investors. Indeed, the numbers prove this theory right – Twitter stock went up 11 percent since the management shift.

Dorsey was the center of controversy for numerous years in regards to how he handled former President Donald Trump — Trump was permanently banned from the app last year — as well as his frequent inaction on internal matters.

Dorsey’s departure also shows a growing trend, as The New York Times points out – numerous tech moguls are stepping down from leadership roles in recent years, which includes Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

There are a number of possibilities for this, one of which is that the companies are so established and profitable now that they no longer need their original founders and visionaries. Another is how the moguls are simply becoming bored with their work lives, and desire a new, exciting change or project.

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Twitter has wasted no time making significant adjustments following Dorsey’s departure. Less than a day after the news, the company announced it was changing its “private information policy,” and that users can no longer share media — such as images or videos — of “private individuals” without their permission.

Twitter explained the change is meant to “curb the misuse of media to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of private individuals.” The change has left many confused due to several grey areas that are involved. The sudden user backlash likely isn’t what the new regime hoped to start out with.

As for Dorsey, MarketWatch reported he’s “all-in” on Square, which could help the company’s worth flourish in the foreseeable future. Dorsey has also shown a passionate interest in Bitcoin, which he told a crowd back in June 2021 he would be working on if he wasn’t at Twitter or Square. In 2019, Square created Square Crypto, a team focused on bitcoin open-source work.

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Dorsey is speaking out for the first time since Twitter and a multitude of other social media platforms permanently suspended the president’s account following the violent riot that occurred at the Capitol last week.

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Twitter to Ban All Political Ads

As social media rapidly replaces traditional journalistic forms of disseminating information, regulators have been slow to catch up with the new form of communication, as the appropriate legal boundaries on free speech on social media platforms remain an open question. Recently, Facebook has drawn criticism for allowing demonstrably false political advertisements to run on its platform, and the company’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, defended the decision to do so by citing free speech concerns. In an apparent response to Zuckerberg’s decision, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey announced that all political ads from around the world would be banned on Twitter, neatly avoiding the problem of politicians spreading disinformation through sponsored posts. Though Dorsey didn’t mention Zuckerberg or Facebook by name, it’s pretty clear that the company’s decision was made in the context of its rival’s position of allowing politicians to lie using advertisements, and it effectively functions as a commentary on Facebook’s policy.

Already, politicians have taken advantage of Facebook’s almost-nonexistent restrictions on paid political speech by running advertisements that contain falsehoods. The Trump campaign, for instance, ran an ad on Facebook falsely accusing rival Joe Biden of “[offering] Ukraine $1 billion to fire the prosecutor investigating a company affiliated with his son.” In response, the Biden campaign asked Facebook to remove the ad from its website, citing a lack of evidence supporting that claim, and Facebook declined to do so, reiterating its policy and defending it by arguing that removing political advertisements constitutes censorship. Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading Democrats in the race for the presidential nomination, ran an ad falsely suggesting Mark Zuckerberg endorsed Donald Trump in order to draw attention to Facebook’s political ad policy and point out how easily it can be abused. The Trump campaign has already spent millions of dollars on Facebook ads containing disinformation, including video ads that have been rejected by CNN and MSNBC for containing falsehoods, which nevertheless have been seen by millions of people.

“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.” — Jack Dorsey

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress with the intent of discussing his crypto-currency service, Libra, but instead found himself being grilled by lawmakers over Facebook’s stance on misinformation. One exchange which grabbed headlines recently involved freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who questioned Zuckerberg about the boundaries of the company’s restrictions on ads, and posed a hypothetical question: under Facebook’s policy, would she be allowed to run ads in Republican districts claiming that her Republican opponents had endorsed the Green New Deal? Zuckerberg replied that he didn’t know, but that she probably would be allowed to do so. Facebook doesn’t run ads for political campaigns through independent fact-checkers except in rare circumstances, so in all likelihood, Ocasio-Cortez would be permitted to run such an ad if she so chose.

Recently, Zuckerberg revealed that political ads make up only 0.5% of the company’s revenue, suggesting that banning all political ads on the site would have little impact on Facebook’s bottom line. Nonetheless, Facebook remains steadfast in its position, even after receiving significant controversy from the media, Congress, and the general public alike. Zuckerberg also recently drew criticism for having lunch with Republican politicians and conservative commentators, a decision that he defended by stressing the importance of getting along with people from different political stripes. In an apparent rebuke of Zuckerberg’s take on political speech, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey opposed the idea that allowing political ads to run indiscriminately is necessary to avoid censorship and ensure free speech, saying “A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.” This difference in opinion is at the core of the argument about free speech on social media platforms, and may very well one day manifest in the form of regulations about using advertising to spread misinformation on social media platforms, like the ones that already exist for other forms of media.