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Jack Dorsey: social media is robbing us of free will

June 8, 2024

The 21st century’s Grigori Rasputin has issued another apocalyptic warning about social media. Speaking at the 16th annual Oslo Freedom Forum yesterday, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey described the free speech debate as a “distraction”. Rather, the “real debate” should be about “free will”.

JUST IN: Twitter founder Jack Dorsey says we are being programmed and manipulated by algorithms and they are impacting our free will.

Elon Musk says Jack is right.

— Radar (@RadarHits) June 6, 2024

“We are being programmed based on what we say we are interested in,” he said. “As we engage and interact with this content, the algorithm continues to build more and more of this bias. It’s effectively a black box — you can’t predict how it’s going to work or what it’s going to show you.”

Dorsey argued that the only way to combat the problem was to “give people choice and let people build their own algorithms”. Even Elon Musk, now the CEO of X, agreed. Anyone here good at coding?


Who is Jack Dorsey: Profile and biography

Jack Dorsey is an American tech mogul and philanthropist who has been shaking the tech world for the last two decades through his ventures. Dorsey is a co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, a platform that redefined global interactions. He is also the co-founder and head of Block Inc (previously Square), a leading financial services company.

In addition to these ventures, Dorsey is actively involved in multiple new innovative projects. He has been vocal about the need for a censor-resistant social media platform and argues in favor of Nostr, a protocol for decentralizing social media.

Dorsey exhibited an affinity for technology and programming from a young age. His rise as a top tech leader serves as an inspiration for several budding entrepreneurs.

This article discusses Jack Dorsey’s life and accomplishments, focusing on his massive contributions to the tech industry. It digs into his early fondness for technology, his involvement in co-founding Twitter and Block, his passion for Bitcoin, his support for decentralized social media and more.

Dorsey’s early life and education

Jack Patrick Dorsey was born into a working-class Catholic family on Nov. 19, 1976. His father, Tim, worked for a mass spectrometer manufacturer, and his mother, Marcia, was a homemaker who managed a café where Dorsey occasionally worked as a barista.

Dorsey enrolled at Bishop DuBourg High School in St. Louis and worked part-time as a fashion model. Following high school, he attended the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) in 1995.

During this period, he hacked into Dispatch Management Services’ network and notified the company chairman, Greg Kidd, of a software issue. After the incident, Kidd granted him a job.

Dorsey left college, moved to New York, and transferred to New York University (NYU) due to parental pressure. By age 14, he was programming dispatch software used by taxicab companies. While he was a student at NYU, he developed an idea that later became Twitter. His entrepreneurial zeal drove him to quit NYU one semester short of graduating, despite his academic pursuits.

Due to a speech impairment as a child, Dorsey was confined to his house, where he played computer games and tuned in to a police scanner. Twitter was partly inspired by the brief communication bursts that law enforcement professionals employed. Growing up, Dorsey was an introvert, but with time, he overcame his shyness by speaking in front of audiences.

Following his stint with Kidd, Dorsey took on various odd jobs, including masseuse work, babysitting Kidd’s daughter and taking fashion lessons. As he reflected on his journey, Dorsey stated, “I wanted to build more instead of learn more.” Despite being unconventional, his career stood out because of his logical attitude toward technology and creativity during his education.

The birth and rise of Twitter

In 2006, Dorsey co-founded Twitter with Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Evan Williams. In 2005, he joined Williams’s podcasting business, Odeo. More fascinated by SMS technology than podcasts, Dorsey imagined a way for users to share quick updates about their status. In 2006, he suggested using SMS to send quick messages regarding one’s activities at a workplace hackathon. This concept became Twitter with assistance from Glass and development by Florian Weber.

Twitter initially launched as “twttr” in July 2006, inspired by Flickr and the five-character length of SMS short codes in America. The platform allowed users to post 140-character updates, reflecting the brevity of text messages. Dorsey’s first tweet, “just setting up my twttr,” marked the beginning of a new era in communication.

Just six months after the launch of Twttr, the crew found the domain They felt the name was in sync with their ideas, so they purchased the domain and renamed their service Twitter.

Twitter grew quickly, but CEO Dorsey struggled with management, which resulted in repeated system failures and discontent among the workforce. By 2008, internal conflicts and pressure from Williams resulted in Dorsey being replaced as CEO by Williams, although Dorsey stayed on as chairman. Twitter continued to rise, becoming essential for real-time news, social movements and celebrity interaction. In 2011, Williams was ousted, and Dick Costolo became CEO. Dorsey resumed a more active role, eventually reclaiming leadership.

In November 2021, Dorsey stepped down as CEO, succeeded by Parag Agrawal. Later, Elon Musk acquired Twitter and rebranded it as “X,” marking the end of an era. From 2006 to 2008 and 2015 to 2021, under Dorsey’s leadership, Twitter evolved into a global communication tool but faced challenges with free speech, misinformation and user privacy.

Beyond Twitter, Dorsey remains influential through his work at Block (formerly Square) and his advocacy for decentralized technologies like Bitcoin.

Rebranding from Square to Block

Dorsey co-founded Square in 2009 with Jim McKelvey when the latter lost a sale because he couldn’t accept credit card payments. Square’s mobile-based credit card reader democratized payment processing, allowing small merchants to compete with larger businesses.

A major turning point came about in 2013 with the debut of the Cash App, which now allows for peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, banking services and Bitcoin (BTC) transactions. In November 2015, Square held its initial public offering (IPO) and raised $243 million, which gave it the funding it needed to pursue further growth.

Square Inc rebranded to Block Inc in December 2021 to better reflect the range of its offerings and its belief in blockchain technology. “Block is a new name, but our purpose of economic empowerment remains the same. No matter how we grow or change, we will continue to build tools to help increase access to the economy,” as Dorsey put it in a press release.

Spiral (formerly Square Crypto), dedicated to advancing Bitcoin development, Tidal for music streaming, Cash App for personal finance, Square for payment solutions and TBD for decentralization activities are all part of Block’s ecosystem.

Dorsey and his crypto endeavors

Dorsey’s advocacy, especially concerning Bitcoin, has had a major effect on the cryptocurrency industry. As the co-founder and CEO of Block, Dorsey allows millions of users to purchase, sell and store BTC by integrating it into Square’s ecosystem, particularly through the Cash App.

His brainchild, Block, announced in April 2024 that construction of their 3-nanometer Bitcoin mining chip was complete. Based on the input it has received from the mining community over the past few months, Block also made the decision to design a complete Bitcoin mining system.

Dorsey founded Spiral (previously Square Crypto) to support and finance open-source Bitcoin initiatives to advance the expansion and long-term viability of the Bitcoin network. His support for Bitcoin goes beyond his business pursuits. He often talks at conferences and has made personal investments in Bitcoin, highlighting its potential to promote “world peace.”

In addition, Dorsey introduced TBD, a blockchain-based financial services platform within Block, to develop an open-source framework for developing decentralized finance (DeFi) services. Through TBD, Dorsey revealed the “Web 5” project, which aims to put the user in control of their data and identity. Additionally, TBD revealed “c=,” a new business whose goal is to enhance routing and liquidity on the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Through these efforts, Dorsey has emerged as a key personality within the cryptocurrency industry. He leverages his influence to encourage the use of Bitcoin, bolster its progress, and endorse a future decentralized financial system.

Dorsey’s support for Nostr

Dorsey has been a strong proponent of Nostr, a decentralized social network protocol that involves relays transmitting content to other users. Nostr does away with central servers at the core and instead has messages sent over a network of relays.

Nostr gaining Dorsey’s support is a result of his larger goal of giving people more control over their data and online interactions by decentralizing social media. He has long been interested in open-source and decentralized technologies, which, according to him, can address problems like platform monopolies, data privacy and censorship.

To support the expansion and development of Nostr, Dorsey donated 14 BTC, or around $245,000, in December 2022. He has been promoting Nostr’s advantages on social media, encouraging users and developers to get involved with the project. Furthermore, his support for open standards and decentralization, which he sees as essential to the internet’s and digital communication’s future, is reflected in his activism.

Dorsey’s legacy and future vision

The influence Dorsey has on social media and financial inclusion is indicative of his legacy. As a co-founder of Twitter, he redefined real-time communication. By establishing Square and now Block, he democratized financial services, enabling startups and propelling the acceptance of cryptocurrencies with products like Cash App.

His continued work with Block highlights that Dorsey remains dedicated to Bitcoin and decentralized technologies moving forward as he promotes user sovereignty and security through decentralized solutions through projects like TBD. His dedication to blockchain technology and Bitcoin predicts a future in which technological and financial systems become more transparent, decentralized and user-focused.

Written by Dilip Kumar Patairya

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