Categories
Blog

Jack Dorsey’s personal fortune has tripled since Trump’s election

Remember when Donald Trump announced his presidential bid in the summer of 2015? Came down the escalator in Trump Tower and gave an interview in which he railed against Mexican immigrants, establishing himself as the Racism Candidate and guaranteeing himself tons of free media coverage.

Trump’s train wreck candidacy was a bonanza for the media industry, and everyone wanted a piece of the action. In the guise of challenging Trump, all the big Western media gave him wall-to-wall coverage. They projected Trump into our living rooms and workplaces. They made it impossible for people to ignore him and his antics. They breathed life into his clownish campaign and, in doing so, helped to polarize American society in a way that had not been achieved since the Civil War. And the circus continued into Trump’s first term.

Why did the media do this? Because it was good for business. Pure and simple. All the cable news stations enjoyed record-breaking ratings. Trump articles in the major newspapers got enormous traffic. But Trump wasn’t just a windfall for CNN and the New York Times. Social media got a big piece of the pie too.

According to a new report in Forbes, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has seen his net worth climb more than 240% since Trump was elected president. “He now sits atop a $4.4 billion fortune, more than triple the $1.3 billion he had at the start of Trump’s presidency.” Here’s more:

“Twitter’s stock has climbed 105%, boosting Dorsey’s stake in the company from $275 million to $610 million. A bigger share of his wealth comes from Dorsey’s other business, payments firm Square. The Twitter chief executive also serves as CEO of Square, in which he held a bigger, $1 billion stake at the time of Trump’s inauguration. Square shares have surged nearly 370% since then, compared to a 45% increase in the overall stock market. Dorsey’s Square stake is now worth $3.6 billion, enough to compose 80% of the tech tycoon’s fortune.”

That’s right—@jack has benefited more from Trump’s presidency than perhaps anybody else. It’s insane to think that he would ever consider suspending Trump’s Twitter account, despite his passion for political censorship and Trump’s tendency to use Twitter to threaten entire countries with massive acts of violence, including war crimes.

I think it’s safe to say that pledging to bomb Iran’s cultural sites—a unambiguous war crime—violates Twitter’s “community guidelines,” for example. But @jack doesn’t care. He’ll just keep pulling accounts belonging to Iranians and Venezuelans and Syrians, and alternative voices inside the US, all the while raking in a few more billion dollars. Jack’s a jerk-off.

Categories
Blog

Big Tech ramps up censorship activity

Twitter rang in the new year with one of the most prolific political purges in the young history of the digital age, leapfrogging Facebook and YouTube to claim the top spot in the censorship sweepstakes.

The festivities began in earnest in 2018 with the coordinated banning of right-wing nutbag Alex Jones and his conspiracy program Infowars. This was done under the guise of protecting innocent people from “fake news.” How good of Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey to act as our nannies. Without their paternal oversight our small little minds might be corrupted by unsavory views. Sarcasm aside, I happen to think that grown-ups should be allowed to decide for themselves what is true and what is false. In order to do so they have to have access to all the available perspectives, including those deemed “dangerous” by tech monopolies. If a small percentage end up adopting the wrong opinions, well, that’s part of living in a free society. If you want total conformity of thought, enforced by powerful people, move to Saudi Arabia.

Evidently, many people slept through Orwell Day in high school. How else can we explain all the positive reactions to blatant political censorship?

It began with Alex Jones; now it has expanded to social media accounts belonging to governments at odds with the United States; alternative media outlets countering official US narratives; and even individual people with no connection to any government or media outlet, but who raise inconvenient questions and look at things from a different perspective than the one espoused by, say, the Washington Post.

Twitter’s most recent censorship spree was reported on in detail by The Grayzone:

“In this latest purge, Twitter suspended the official accounts of Venezuela’s National GuardNavyAir ForceStrategic CommandPetroleum MinistryPenitentiary Services MinistryNational Commission of Information Technology, and Foundation Engineering Institute.

“The office of the government of the Capital District, the office of the vice president of the economy, and the press office of the armed forces also had their accounts removed by Twitter.”

Alternative news outlets in Venezuela were also unplugged, as was the account of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (it was later reinstated).

Washington is targeting Maduro’s government; therefore, so is Twitter.

Who else is being targeted by Washington? Iran is. Therefore:

“In the wake of the Trump administration’s execution of Iran’s top general Soleimani, a clear act of war, Twitter moved to restrict the account of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.” Moreover:

“Many individual Iranians have been targeted as well. Users posted lists of dozens of Iranians who had their accounts taken down. These included prominent activists, journalists, and researchers who challenged Western propaganda and disinformation against their country.”

Ditto Syria:

“On January 4, Twitter temporarily suspended the official Twitter account of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A few days later, amid backlash, it restored the account.

“Twitter has repeatedly suspended and restricted the profile of Syria’s president, forcing the country’s presidential office to create multiple accounts (neither of which has verified by the company).”

Is that clear enough? As we move deeper into the darkness of the digital age, I think it’s time we retired the term “Stalinist Purge” (most young’uns probably don’t know who Stalin was) and replaced it with Dorsey-esque Purge.” Or “Zuckerbergian Purge.” Either will do.

Categories
Blog

Twitter announces decentralized network plan

New from @jack: Twitter is assembling a small team of researchers to develop an “open and decentralized standard for social media.” Company CTO Parag Agrawal has been tapped as the person whose job it is to tap a leader for the project, who will then tap up to five people to work on the project, which is lamely called Bluesky. Here it is in @jack’s own words:

“Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.

“Twitter was so open early on that many saw its potential to be a decentralized internet standard, like SMTP (email protocol). For a variety of reasons, all reasonable at the time, we took a different path and increasingly centralized Twitter. But a lot’s changed over the years…

“First, we’re facing entirely new challenges centralized solutions are struggling to meet. For instance, centralized enforcement of global policy to address abuse and misleading information is unlikely to scale over the long-term without placing far too much burden on people.

“Second, the value of social media is shifting away from content hosting and removal, and towards recommendation algorithms directing one’s attention. Unfortunately, these algorithms are typically proprietary, and one can’t choose or build alternatives. Yet.

“Third, existing social media incentives frequently lead to attention being focused on content and conversation that sparks controversy and outrage, rather than conversation which informs and promotes health.

“Finally, new technologies have emerged to make a decentralized approach more viable. Blockchain points to a series of decentralized solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization. Much work to be done, but the fundamentals are there.”

There’s more, but all this copy and pasting is giving me carpal tunnel.

Anyway, as The Verge reports Jack’s BIG announcement is pretty small beer in the eyes of folks who are already developing decentralized networks.

“I hear Twitter wants to invest in creating a new decentralized social media protocol,” tweeted developer Darius Kazemi. “Meanwhile a bunch of us are out here already doing the hard work.”

Kazemi added:

“The hilarious thing is that they could take their budget for this initiative, slash it by 90%, distribute the remaining 10% to like 2 dozen Patreons, and thereby do approximately 1000% more to create a viable decentralized social media standard and implementations.”

Poor @jack.