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Ev Williams says Twitter’s role in Trump’s rise is ‘a very bad thing’

“I think the internet is broken,” he tells the New York Times.

Twitter co-founder Ev Williams onstage Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

“If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry,” Twitter co-founder Ev Williams tells the New York Times in a profile today.

The he, of course, being Donald Trump, who used Twitter flamboyantly to stoke his base of campaign supporters, and continues to tweet flamboyantly as U.S. president, frequently waging attacks on the “fake news” media, including the “failing” New York Times.

Williams, now founder and CEO of Medium, discusses problems with Twitter and the internet at large in an interview with the Times’ David Streitfeld. (Streitfeld does not get Williams to reveal how many people have signed up for Medium’s recent pivot into paid subscriptions, which is part of his effort to save a “broken” internet full of trolls and abuse.)

Earlier this month, Williams gave the commencement address at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where, as Streitfeld highlights, he discussed Silicon Valley’s incomplete view of itself as fire-bringing Prometheus.

“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,” he said. “Some would say that’s what we deserve for giving the power of tweets to Donald Trump.”

Here’s the full video of his commencement address. Read the NYT profile here.

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