Ev Williams, who co-founded Twitter, is more-or-less apologizing for the site’s role in President Donald Trump’s electoral win.
“It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that,” Williams said in an interview with the New York Times. “If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.”
Trump told Fox News in March that one big reason he won the election was Twitter.
“Well, let me tell you about Twitter,” Trump told Tucker Carlson. “I think that maybe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Twitter.”
Trump explained that his social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram give him his own “form of media” where he can talk directly to the American people, bypassing the press he frequently criticises for what he sees as unfair coverage.
Yet many of the people working at those social media companies, and in Silicon Valley in general, are not big fans of Trump. More than 100 tech companies vigorously opposed his attempted travel ban, for example. Tech CEOs have also been the subject of internet petitions telling them not to work with him.
One of the few big and visible Trump supporters in the Valley, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, even joked about Twitter’s role in another Times story in January.
“I think the crazy thing is, at a place like Twitter, they were all working for Trump this whole year,” Thiel said, “even though they thought they were working for [former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie] Sanders.”
Today, Williams is out running his own company, blogging site Medium, though he remains on Twitter’s board and a major shareholder.
It’s not the first time he’s publicly mentioned Twitter and Trump. He joked about the president when he spoke to the graduating class at the University of Nebraska last month.
Williams likened the tech industry’s desire to “democratize” everything (i.e. put technology into the hands of everyone, instead in the hands of select few), to the Greek myth of Prometheus stealing fire the gods and giving it to humans.
“What we tend to forget is that Zeus was so pissed at Prometheus that he chained him to a rock so eagles could peck out his guts for eternity,” Williams joked during the speech. “Some would say that’s what we deserve for giving the power of tweets to Donald Trump.”
It got a big laugh and then he confessed, “I was nervous about that joke in Nebraska.”
Neither Twitter nor Williams’ current company, Medium, immediately answered our requests for further comment.