Twitter boss discovers his inner idiocy

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UNLIKE their Robber Baron railroad, banking and industrialist predecessors, US IT moguls such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs were predominantly young when they came into great fortunes. Silicon Valley went on to produce a new generation of youthful billionaires who were lauded by the media, as much for their often tofu-munching, keep-fit lifestyles as for their innovations.

Perhaps it was inevitable that, as has happened with so many other celebrities, press and broadcasters would one day start to take down the golden reputations of these IT superstars they had done so much to create. But it has to be said that many of Silicon Valley’s tycoons have often served themselves up on platters for negative publicity. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is beleaguered over the massive misuse of data his social media platform vacuums up about its now more than two billion users. The future of his high-profile deputy, Sheryl Sandberg, is now in doubt, as the “Lean-In” feminist motivational guru looks more like Leaning-Out. Google has been hardly less assiduous in collecting user data and manipulating the results on its almost ubiquitous search engine. Other social media stand of accused of losing considerable amounts of highly personal information to hackers. Meanwhile Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has been pilloried for paying rock bottom salaries to hard-driven and closely-monitored warehouse staff.

And now come the problems of Twitter chief Jack Dorsey who chose to give himself a ten-day birthday treat at a Buddhist monastery in genocidal-riven Myanmar. It is hard to quantify the utter crassness of this decision, not least because the “vipassana” meditation retreat he joined was supposed to give practitioners “greater insight into their inner selves”.

It would seem quite clear that Dorsey’s inner insight did not include the realization that he was an idiot. After his trip, he used his Twitter platform to extol the beauties of Myanmar and the excellence of his visit. Within minutes, the social media site exploded with outrage. Many users pointed out that while Dorsey had been mediating with Buddhist monks, their fanatical colleagues continued to be key players in the murderous ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims from the northern Rakhine state. These luckless refugees have been driven over the border into Bangladesh. The homes and businesses they left behind have been plundered and destroyed.

It is hard to fathom the ignorance and stupidity that led Dorsey to make this controversial visit and then to compound his extraordinary error by boasting about it in front of millions of Twitter users. As the storm of online anger broke, Dorsey first protested that his trip had been “personal”, as if this somehow made any difference. Then he wrote that he had been aware that there were “human rights issues” in Myanmar, which begged the question why he chose to holiday there in the first place. Finally he admitted: “ I don’t know enough and need to learn more”.

Coming from an IT mogul worth some $5 billion, this was an astonishing confession. One of his four million Twitter followers suggested that Dorsey stop digging the deep hole he was already in and shut up. By way of apology this foolish man could make a very substantial donation to help the 700,000 Rohingya Muslims terrorized into leaving their own country.


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