Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently named former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the Ferguson protesters, and the Parkland students as his favorite accounts to follow on the site. He also advocated for the gun-control platform put forth by the Parkland students.
In an interview published in The Players’ Tribune, Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes asked Dorsey about his favorite Twitter accounts. Dorsey began his response by mentioning Kaepernick, who rose to fame for his protests during the national anthem as a member of the San Francisco 49ers:
Colin Kaepernick — he’s been one that has kind of blurred that line between utilizing it for his career traditionally, but also utilizing it for activism. As you know, we’ve been a platform for so many activists globally, and to see him blur that line effectively, and encourage others and inspire others to do the same, is really powerful. So, he’s been the most notable recently.
In terms of non-athletes, Dorsey continued the theme of mentioning how Twitter has been used for left-wing activism:
It wasn’t until Ferguson that we actually saw it in the United States. And for me that really hit home, because I’m from St. Louis and Ferguson is 10 minutes from my house where I grew up. Going to the streets of Ferguson, going on West Florissant and seeing how Twitter was being used — it was really powerful. And since that moment, we’ve just had so many activists within this country utilize it effectively.
As an example of activists who he believes have “effectively” mobilized in the platform, Dorsey pointed to the Parkland students, who have used Twitter to advocate for gun control. In particular, Dorsey mentioned Emma Gonzalez by name, whose Twitter following now reaches over 1 million people — which, Dorsey emphasized, is more than the National Rifle Association’s following:
And the Parkland students, I was both surprised and inspired by — because people make a lot of assumptions that kids don’t use Twitter. And not only did these kids choose to use Twitter to amplify their movement, they also took to it to build and have more and more conversation. And it has persisted. It was amazing to see Emma, for instance, who went from 70 followers to over a million in no time — when the NRA has 400,000 accounts.
To be able to get that amount of influence that quickly as a teenager on our platform was really inspiring, certainly for us, but more for the world. It was just very refreshing. I think 2018 is gonna be a year of more of that activism made manifest throughout all these issues. It’s inspiring that kids are leading the charge, as they should.
Asked about his opinion of gun control and Twitter’s role in the gun control debate, Dorsey said he supports the platform by the Parkland kids, even though he admits “[i]t’s not going to fix everything, but it will certainly address many problems that will point to the next solutions.”
The official platform of the March for Our Lives group includes banning semi-automatic weapons “that fire high-velocity rounds,” banning accessories that “simulate automatic weapons,” raising the firearm purchasing age to 21, and changing privacy laws “to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement.”
In terms of Twitter’s role in the gun-control debate, Dorsey said, “We are the public conversation, and when the whole world can see this debate play out publicly, we can all see all these different perspectives and see these different opinions and get to a much better and stronger answer.”
Dorsey also touched on data concerns, online harassment, and Twitter’s new metric to measure the “health” of conversations, and the push for diversity in Silicon Valley — which Dorsey said is a “priority”:
First and foremost, we need to make diversity a priority. We need to recognize that we’re only going to build a product that is valuable to the world if we understand the world’s backgrounds and perspectives. The only way we’ll build a viable service is if we look a lot more like a cross-section of the world and include more folks who haven’t had a voice in the past.