Twitter’s new CEO Parag Agrawal outlined his vision of the tech giant in a 2020 interview that may give a glimpse into what Twitter users can expect from the company under Agrawal’s direction.
In November 2020, MIT Technology Review published an interview between then-Tech Review Editor-in-Chief Gideon Lichfield and then-Twitter CTO Agrawal. The interview focused on how the social media platform is “trying to thread a needle of mitigating harm caused by false content without becoming an arbiter of truth,” according to the outlet.
In one exchange, Agrawal says that he does not think that Twitter should be “bound by the First Amendment” and that discourse on the platform should be policed in a way that reflects “how the times have changed.” The now-CEO of the tech giant also suggested that Twitter should play a role in promoting some voices and sources of information and suppressing others in a bid to “direct people’s attention.” The exchange took place as follows, according to Tech Review:
Lichfield: You’re caught in a bit of a hard place as somebody in the audience is also pointing out, that you’re trying to combat misinformation, you also want to protect free speech as a core value, and also in the U.S. as the first amendment. How do you balance those two?
Agrawal: Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation. The kinds of things that we do about this is, focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed. One of the changes today that we see is speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard. The scarce commodity today is attention. There’s a lot of content out there. A lot of tweets out there, not all of it gets attention, some subset of it gets attention. And so increasingly our role is moving towards how we recommend content and that sort of, is, is, a struggle that we’re working through in terms of how we make sure these recommendation systems that we’re building, how we direct people’s attention is leading to a healthy public conversation that is most participatory.
Former Twitter CEO and the company’s co-founder Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as the tech giant’s chief executive on Monday, saying “now is the right time.” He listed three reasons for his departure, his first being that Agrawal would take over as CEO.
“The first is Parag becoming our CEO,” Dorsey said. “The board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag. He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs. Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep.”
“I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it. It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company…and all of you so much. I’m really sad…yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move,” Dorsey later concluded. “We’ll have an all-hands meeting tomorrow at 9:05 AM Pacific to discuss it all. Until then, thank you all for the trust you’ve placed in me, and for the openness to build that trust in Parag and yourselves. I love you all.”
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