‘Trump’s Presidency Is The Product Of Stupidity’, Twitter Founder Says
During an interview with BBC Radio on Wednesday, Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, says Donald Trump’s election is the result of a media environment based on short attention spans that is making the world stupider.
Earlier this year Trump said he would not be president if it “wasn’t for Twitter”.” But Wiliams argued that Trump’s election highlights a wider issue about how social media platforms were helping to dumb the entire world down” and undermining our sense of truth.
According to The Guardian, Williams was asked whether Trump’s prolific use of Twitter had given him pause for thought.
He replied: “The much bigger issue is not Donald Trump using Twitter that got him elected, even if he says so; it is the quality of the information we consume that is reinforcing dangerous beliefs and isolating people and limiting people’s open-mindedness and respect for truth.”
Evans, who has previously apologized for Twitter’s role in Trump’s election, added: “There is a media ecosystem that is supported and thrives on attention, period. And that is what’s making us dumber and not smarter, and Donald Trump is a symptom of that.”
He blamed advertising models that compete for the attention of internet users. Williams told Today: “I don’t think Twitter is the worst case of this. It is the ad-driven media that churns stuff out on a minute-by-minute basis and their only measure is whether or not someone clicks on it.
“Therefore quoting Trump’s tweets, or quoting the latest stupidest thing that any political candidate or anyone else says, is an effective way to exploit people’s basest instincts. And that is dumbing the entire world down.”
He also spoke of how he had become disillusioned about the ability of the internet to make people more intelligent. “One of my big learnings, over the last couple of decades, is that access to information alone doesn’t make us smarter. The fake news thing is one small part of it; another even bigger part of it is the quality and depth of the information.
Williams also spoke of how internet companies could do more to tackle fake news:
“Providers of information systems and the platforms that our media get decimated on have a big responsibility. It includes removing stuff,” he said of the fake news phenomenon that helped elect Donald Trump.
“We are evolving our understanding of what abuse is and how protecting free speech is a lot more nuanced than it sounds. You can be an ardent believer in free speech and also realise that someone’s speech is limiting someone else’s willingness to speak. I’m optimistic that the systems are going to get much better at tackling online abuse.”