Twitter Cofounder Ev Williams: Following The News Is 'Psychologically Harmful' For You

Evan Williams of Twitter and Medium Portrait IllustrationMike Nudelman/Business InsiderTwitter cofounder Ev Williams.

Twitter cofounder Ev Williams says Twitter is “essentially a news service” i
n an interview with Jeff Bercovici at Inc.

But he doesn’t necessarily want to spend a lot of his reading time looking at news stories. In fact, he’s not even sure it’s good for you.

He says of news, “The vast majority of it isn’t valuable to people and it may be even harmful, and that’s well-reported, accurate news.”

Here’s the full quote: 

Bercovici: You’ve voiced some critiques of the online news ecosystem — the types of stories it rewards or calls into existence. It seems like part of what you’re saying with Medium is that the world doesn’t need more news — it needs more writing that’s not news. 

Williams: Yeah. Twitter is essentially a news service, and news is important for society, but personally I don’t want to spend most of my reading time reading news. I get a lot more value out of other types of content and I think most people do as well. There’s a natural urge to know what’s going on. It’s biological and it’s social: What’s new? What’s everyone talking about? What’s this shiny object? The vast majority of it isn’t valuable to people and it may be even harmful, and that’s well-reported, accurate news.

Bercovici: Harmful because it’s misleading people or because it’s taking up mindshare that could be used for better purposes? 

Williams: It’s creating anxieties that have no outlet. It’s psychologically harmful. TV news is the epitome of this. Its whole goal is the raise enough anxiety that you tune in. It’s not to inform or make society smarter. That causes us to have irrational fears about things that are extremely unlikely and highlights those instead of normal things that are actually harmful, like what you eat or watching TV news.

You can read the full Q&A over at Inc.


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