Twitter will likely become even more restrictive and politically biased following the departure of its founder and CEO Jack Dorsey last month, according to the co-founder and former CEO of Parler, John Matze.
Speaking to NTD’s “The Nation Speaks,” Matze said he expects to see the social media platform implement further policies that are in line with its own “vision of where they think society is heading,” and not necessarily reflective of its users.
Matze said he also expects the company to continue with its poor business performance, owing to years of stagnation and a “lack of innovation” in an ever-changing and advancing technology environment.
Dorsey announced on Nov. 29 that he was stepping down as CEO of Twitter, which he helped found in 2006, and Twitter named its Chief Technology Officer, Parag Agrawal, as CEO.
Agrawal, who has been with the company for more than a decade, has been chief technology officer since 2017.
Just one day after Dorsey’s departure, the social networking service announced sweeping policy changes pertaining to the sharing of photos or videos of individuals. As of Nov. 30, the company will no longer allow the sharing of private media, including images or videos of private individuals without their consent.
“While our existing policies and Twitter Rules cover explicit instances of abusive behavior, this update will allow us to take action on media that is shared without any explicit abusive content, provided it’s posted without the consent of the person depicted,” the company explained in a statement.
“If anything, it’ll probably get a little bit more restrictive,” Matze told NTD. “But from their perspective, they want to shape a community, which is in line with, I guess, their vision of where they think society is heading. And their new policies and statements that they make are completely in line with that, which means you can expect things like taking sides in certain political and or societal discussions, which is kind of what they’ve already had a history of doing.”
Hunter Biden and the New York Post
Matze noted that Twitter heavily censored a New York Post article about then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter shortly before the election.
The article claimed that the contents of an abandoned computer hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter suggested that he had used the influence of his father, then-vice president, to make lucrative deals with big companies from Ukraine and China when he was on the board of the energy firm Burisma.
“If you go back and look at the Hunter Biden story with the New York Post and how, before the election, the last presidential election, they decided to kind of censor that story, you know, that was causing in their mind, I guess harm, because it could hurt a political candidate who I think that they liked,” Matze said.
“And so, you’ll see things like that happening more in the future. I don’t know that this is a large change,” he said of Dorsey stepping down. “I think that it just seems from my perspective… I have obviously no inside knowledge within Twitter, but I would say that this just seems like more of the same to me, you’re going to see more restrictions on speech, and you’re going to see, more or less, the same kind of lack of performance by a company that’s been stagnating for six years or so. And I’m not trying to be offensive to them or say anything mean about them, particularly, I’m just trying to be realistic, this is what we’re going to see.”
Matze added that Twitter’s statements and policies regarding misinformation are also “not based on reality” and are interchangeable based on the company’s view of society at the time.
In an interview last year, Agrawal said that Twitter should “focus less on thinking about free speech” and that “our approach is rooted in trying to avoid specific harm that misleading information can cause.”
“Well, they have a different definition than maybe most of society,” Matze said. “That’s why you see their policies and statements like this not rooted in law or not rooted in free speech principles. You see them rooted in feelings and emotions and non-tangibles that can fluctuate based on their interpretation of society at any given moment.
“And so it’s really a meaningless statement that’s meant to make people feel good. But you can’t define misinformation. And I think the COVID era has been complete evidence of the inability to define it, because every week, what is or is not misinformation, what science knows, and doesn’t know, it seems to fluctuate so much because everything is so new,” Matze said. “And you could argue there’s a lot of harm that could occur if the wrong judgments are passed around society during this time, but how do you know?”