This is an open letter to the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey.
Twitter is failing to serve its primary function—acting as a realtime pulse for all participants—a detailed scope into the world.
I believe the platform you first envisioned and helped create is the single most powerful in the history of the World Wide Web. Twitter gave birth to the American Tea Party movement. It facilitated that Egyptian Green Revolution. Occupy found a voice in its movement that lacked demands while fueling a movement with a long list of demands founded by queer black women, Black Lives Matter.
Those familiar with makeup of Twitter’s user base knows who really runs Twitter — African Americans and conservatives, respectively. Twitter is run by #tcot and #BlackTwitter, but Twitter, Inc. is run by white liberals with an agenda.
Sure there are other groups of users from gamers to feminists, from UniteBlue to AltRight, from journalists to world leaders, but on a daily basis it is mainstream political conservatives and black users whom determines what trends.
I just so happen to fall into both major categories, making me a super minority. Yet, my history with your company runs deep. I first joined in June 2007. Along with a handful of other republican digital operatives, we recruited professionals and activists to the space, seeking to connect. Soon we began recruiting our clients—politicians, non-profits, and political action committees. I even volunteered countless hours to TweetCongress, a site that aggregated Members of Congress’ tweets and recruited Members whose offices were not on Twitter.
Our combined efforts worked.
With our clients and politicians came journalists and television producers. I believe we help give Twitter its catalyst which made it the platform to download. Bloggers needed a sharing button. We, users, helped your platform reach mass adoption.
Let us recall that it was users whom created the retweet, the mention, and the hashtag.
Twitter is not the place it once was. It is not a safe space for political conservatives. I’m concerned about the lack of diversity in general. Last year, as you know, Twitter lost a black engineer due to this very problem. I don’t want Twitter to become more conservative, or more liberal, or more black, or more this or that—but instead, more free. This is the culture I want to encourage you to create at Twitter.
British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos, a.k.a. @Nero, lost his verification badge. One of your engineers had previously reported Yiannopoulos for tweeting and teasing debate opponents on Twitter. Robert McCain, a conservative author and journalist, has been on a critique of feminism beat for the past two years. He was banned in August 2015 for writing about an alleged pedophile who happened to be transgendered. Late last week, without notice and without a specific cause, Twitter banned his personal @rsmccain account and his @SexBookTrouble book promotion account. Actor Adam Baldwin took notice and now the prolific Hollywood tweeter has left the platform for good. Baldwin had been punished previously too.
Each of these men is a political conservative who believes in the equality of the sexes, but then again, why should their beliefs determine their access to Twitter’s full suite of features?
What fringe or popular ideas are to become orthodoxy so that we may participate fully on Twitter?
A listing of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council members reads like a buffet of New York interest and lobbying groups. There’s no trust in the Council, nor is there a transparent outline of how they’re working or governing over all of us—the users. Today it was dubbed an “Orwellian nightmare” in The Week.
Notably, there are no black groups. There isn’t a single conservative group.
Jack, diversity and freedom are not antithetical to one another. Embrace the liberty that has made publishing on the web great and encourage all voices so that they themselves may, in a democratic fashion, champion their individual interests.
The platform you envisioned doesn’t need a filter of political correctness. Hell, I was once sued for $1,000,000 by supposedly-reformed domestic terrorist Brett Kimberlin who now leads two liberal non-profits for tweeting about his past. Free speech and I won that case.
Twitter is supposed to be the platform that was built for us and by us, the user. Make it that place once again.
We’re organizing now, Jack. I would love to sit and reason together. You might find it useful to hear the concerns of everyday users, conservative organizations, free market bloggers, and members of the National Bloggers Club. We want a meeting and we want inclusion.
Ali Akbar, President, National Bloggers Club
P.S. Let’s make Twitter great again. 😉