Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey Won’t Stop Taking Veiled Shots At Each Other

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have rarely seemed to agree on much as business leaders, and it’s embodied in the way they govern their respective networks. For example, Zuckerberg built a social network employing strict rules about using your real identity, while Dorsey and Twitter championed anonymity.

Now the two billionaire tech founders are at odds over how to handle free speech and political advertising, defending opposite views of a heavily debated internet issue.

Twitter announced on Wednesday its intent to abolish political advertising on its platform, saying that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

The announcement from Dorsey’s Twitter account came on the cusp of Facebook’s scheduled third-quarter earnings call and after a month of relentless campaigning from Zuckerberg on the issue of political advertising and free speech.

“This isn’t about free expression,” Dorsey said in a series of tweets. “This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address.”

Dorsey’s comments took aim at how Zuckerberg has defended Facebook’s political ads policy, which allows politicians and political candidates to make false claims in advertisements. Zuckerberg has positioned Facebook as an American-values-based company that champions free speech by allowing anyone to publish any of their thoughts, as long as they don’t threaten physical harm.

“I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100% true,” Zuckerberg said during a Georgetown University speech earlier this month.

Dorsey added a less veiled shot to the thread as well, noting it wouldn’t be credible to say: “’We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad … well … they can say whatever they want!” Then, he added a wink.

The afternoon jousting added to a growing public spat between the two Internet moguls, both facing pressure to eliminate massive disinformation campaigns on their networks ahead of the 2020 general election.

During an appearance at the Twitter News Summit in New York City after Zuckerberg’s Georgetown speech, Dorsey said that Zuckerberg’s free speech argument had “a major gap and flaw in the substance he was getting across.”

“There’s some amount of revisionist history in all his storytelling,” Dorsey said of Zuckerberg. “It takes away from the authenticity and the genuineness of what we’re trying to do.”

When asked if he would join Facebook’s Libra project, Dorsey had a simple answer: “Hell, no.”

But Zuckerberg has also fired shots. On October 1, when The Verge published leaked audio from a Facebook company meeting, Zuckerberg mocks Twitter and its efforts to fix the health of their network.

“It’s why Twitter can’t do as good of a job as we can,” Zuckerberg said. “I mean, they face, qualitatively, the same types of issues. But they can’t put in the investment. Our investment on safety is bigger than the whole revenue of their company.”