January 16, 2022

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RIP Twitter Trending As Jack Dorsey Steps Down, And Some Vow To Leave Service For GETTR

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On Monday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that he would be stepping down as chief of the social media company he helped create, and that Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief technology officer (CTO), would take over. Dorsey will however remain a member of the board of directors until his term expires at the 2022 meeting of stockholders.

“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders. My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep,” Dorsey said in a statement. “His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It’s his time to lead.”

What impact this change at the top will have for users is unknown, but it could mean that the new CEO won’t be splitting his time trying to run two companies – as Dorsey had done while being the CEO of financial services company Square.

“Jack Dorsey stepping down means Twitter is getting a full-time CEO now,” suggested technology analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics. “Jack divided his time between Twitter and Square. The new CEO, Parag Agrawal, has a much more technical approach to Twitter’s issues than Jack Dorsey’s more philosophical approach.”

Dorsey certainly wasn’t the face of Twitter in the way that Mark Zuckerberg is to Facebook – or Steve Jobs was to Apple. Even as many Americans might know of Jobs and even Zuckerberg, it is unlikely many could name Dorsey as the (outgoing) CEO of Twitter.

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“It’s certainly true that for many users Mark Zuckerberg is the face of Facebook, and perhaps the best known leader of a social network,” explained Damian Radcliffe, professor of Journalism at the University of Oregon and fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University.

“I suspect most users, of most social networks, don’t know – and probably don’t care – who is in charge,” added Radcliffe. “They’re probably more concerned about a good user experience and whether the app meets their information and communication needs. The Twitterati may be concerned about the implications of this, but let’s not forget Jack left before (2008-11), he’s also super busy with Square, and had mooted the idea of moving to Africa last year – an aspiration which left some wondering whaat this meant for his ability to be hands-on leading the company. The network is bigger than one man. Even Jack Dorsey!”

Hello GETTR

The news that Dorsey was leaving did trend on Twitter, with the hashtag #RIPTwitter once again making the rounds. But on Monday so too did the hashtag #GETTR, with many conservative-leaning users suggesting they’d ditch Twitter for the rival platform GETTR.

It is unlikely that Twitter will see a vast exodus, but even if were to occur, it isn’t likely most users would notice anymore than that they’re paying attention to the happenings in the C-Suite. There has already been a rise of rival Twitter-like platforms, and that is unlikely to be impacted just by the change at the top.

“Data from the Pew Research Center shows that in the U.S. there are already partisan differences in social media usage. We can expect that this trend will only continue. In that respect, it’s arguably mimicking other forms of media use – like cable news and online websites – where the partisan divides are already pretty entrenched,” said Radcliffe.

“Given accusations of bias from former President Trump, and the high profile nature of some of those associated (like Jason Miller) with newer platforms like GETTR, it’s not surprising that some conservatives will try these newer networks,” Radcliffe added. “And that many users will believe that these new networks are more truthful. And less biased. It can be hard for new platforms to punch through and take off (the social media landscape is already pretty busy), so it will be interesting to see if any of these efforts enjoy the longevity seen by older, more established, networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Factors which may influence this longevity include the quality of the user experience, and whether the site is used by leading opinion formers from the conservative movement.”

Many may leave, but they’re also likely to come back – simply because no other platform has yet managed to achieve the reach of Twitter.

“I suspect many users may well migrate back to older, more established, networks overtime,” said Radcliffe. “Lest we forget, their algorithms already tend to show you more of what you already think and agree with, and it can be hard to bump into people with different views to your own, so the likelihood of liberal vs. conservative users on Twitter (or other networks) having the same content experience is already pretty slim.”

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