Twitter founder apologises for 'helping make Donald Trump President'

Evan Williams addresses President's claim 'maybe wouldn't be here' if not for social media

Rachel Roberts
Saturday 20 May 2017 23:47
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 Evan Williams, former CEO and co-founder of Twitter, at their headquarters. He is now working on a new website, Medium Getty Images
Evan Williams, former CEO and co-founder of Twitter, at their headquarters. He is now working on a new website, Medium Getty Images

Twitter’s co-founder has publicly apologised for the role the social media platform might have played in the election of Donald Trump.

In an interview with the New York Times, Evan Williams was asked about remarks made by Mr Trump in March when he said: “I think maybe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Twitter.”

“It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that,” Mr Williams admitted. “If it’s true that he wouldn’t be President if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.”

Mr Trump has 30 million followers on his personal account on the platform and was known as a prolific tweeter well before he announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for presidency.

Since entering the White House and taking control of the @POTUS (President of the United States) Twitter handle, he has 17 million followers of that account.

The platform was used extensively by his supporters during the presidency to advocate him and to denounce Hilary Clinton – although it was also well utilised by his detractors.

The President told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson: “I think that maybe I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Twitter, because I get such a fake press, such a dishonest press. I mean, if you look at — and I'm not including Fox, because I think Fox has been fair to me, but if you look at CNN and if you look at these other networks.”

Mr Trump’s prolific and often combative style of tweeting has been under scrutiny since he took office with recent reports that close aides have intervened to urge him to tone down some of his posts.

The Wall Street Journal reported that members of his team warned Mr Trump his tweets risked “painting him into a corner” both politically and legally.

In the interview with New York Times – a newspaper repeatedly attacked by the President as a “failing” organisation, despite its plethora of journalism awards – Mr Williams admitted that Twitter has its downsides, including an attraction for extremists and those who seek to abuse and insult others.

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better pace. I was wrong about that.”

Mr Williams has stepped down from his role as CEO of Twitter and is working on a new blogging platform, known as Medium.

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