Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: America could be on brink of its own Arab Spring

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Twitter CEO Jack DorseyBy ARIEL ZILBER and REUTERS

The United States may be going through its own version of the Arab Spring, according to the head of a social media giant.

Americans have taken to Twitter to air their political grievances during President Donald Trump’s first month in office similarly to how people in the Middle East did so during the Arab Spring and Iran’s Green Revolution, according to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey says that the current American political discourse online resembles ‘a lot of the same patterns we’ve seen during the Iranian Green Revolution and the Arab Spring,’ according to Fortune Magazine.

‘It was stunning to see how Twitter was being used to have a conversation about the government, with the government,’ Dorsey told a tech conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

He said that Twitter has not traditionally been used as a means to further political discussion.

Things changed in 2014, when racial protests erupted in the wake of a police-involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

‘As a culture in the US, we’ve focused on things that didn’t matter as much. Now, everything is brought into perspective, and Twitter is at center of the most important conversations,’ he said.

Despite Twitter’s crucial role as a platform for exchanging views, the company has not translated it into profit.

Last week, Twitter posted the slowest revenue growth since it went public four years ago, sending shares down more than 10 percent on fears that rivals Snapchat and Facebook were winning the war for advertising.

Revenue from advertising fell from a year ago and a 4 percent year-on-year rise in users to 319 million fell short of Wall Street forecasts as well.

The election of Trump, a prolific tweeter, as US president failed to produce a ‘Trump Bump’ in Twitter’s results, and Twitter declined to give guidance on future revenue with Dorsey asking for patience.

The microblogging service has struggled to find a formula that will attract a new crop of users or advertisers even as rivals have ridden a wave of rising investment in internet advertising.

The lack of revenue growth has raised questions about Dorsey’s leadership and whether the company would be bought by a bigger media firm.

Financial markets speculated about a sale of Twitter last year, but no concrete bids were forthcoming.

Dorsey told analysts on a conference call last week that Twitter was investing in machine learning and searching for ways to engage advertisers.

‘It will take time to show the results we all want to see, and we’re moving forward aggressively. The whole world is watching Twitter,’ he said.

Quarterly revenue growth was the slowest since Twitter went public in 2013.

Advertising revenue in the fourth quarter declined 0.5 percent year-over-year to $638 million, and the company said that advertising revenue growth would continue to lag user growth during 2017.

‘There isn’t a growth story here,’ said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst.

‘They have to convince advertisers that they will reach an expanding audience,’ he said.