Twitter’s Follies




(Las Vegas) There’s something risibly ironic about Twitter CEO Evan Williams co-signing a letter to the FCC that calls on the Commission to “begin a process to adopt rules that preserve an open Internet.” Leaving aside the irony of a federal agency drafting “openness” regulations, what’s amusing is how Williams seems to have forgotten how easily his own company leapt to an unwarranted conclusion two years ago on precisely this issue. Back in 2007, some T-Mobile customers began having difficulty twittering. On December 14, co-founder Biz Stone blogged: “Hey folks. T-Mobile has definitely turned us off without notification.” Oops! A few days later, the company was forced to admit that it had botched its investigation. There was no blocking at all, but “purely a technical issue between T-Mobile and Ericsson, the folks who serve our SMS traffic.” Stone acknowledged that earlier comments had been made on the basis of “limited information.” (Memo to CorpCom departments: Never let your press releases get in front of the facts!)

A similar incident happened in 2006 when some Cox customers could not access CraigsList.com. At least give Craig Newmark credit for admitting that the issue was “a genuine bug.” However many of his Net neutrality supporters weren’t as dependent on the facts for their conclusions.

Alas eBay CEO and Dartmouth grad John Donahoe also signed the letter. You’re doing a great job at eBay, John, but avoid the temptation of diving into federal regulation. You wouldn’t be the first tech CEO to get burned by a federal policy fight. Remember how Steve Case began lobbying for open access on cable — right around the time AOL was negotiating its merger with TimeWarner?