What would Disney’s Twitter look like in 2019? Would it be a happier, more welcoming place? Would the Nazis still have a platform? Would Donald Trump?
There’s no answer for these questions, but it’s noteworthy to learn that such a twist of fate almost came to pass. In Robert Iger’s upcoming book, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” the Disney CEO talks about how his company almost acquired Twitter in 2017 but ultimately stayed away.
“The troubles were greater than I wanted to take on, greater than I thought it was responsible for us to take on,” Iger said of the acquisition-that-almost-was in a New York Times profile on Sunday.
“There were brand issues, the whole impact of technology on society. The nastiness is extraordinary,” he continued. “I like looking at my Twitter newsfeed because I want to follow 15, 20 different subjects. Then you turn and look at your notifications and you’re immediately saying, why am I doing this? Why do I endure this pain?”
It’s helpful to put yourself back into the mindset of a person in 2017, which yes, feels like it happened roughly 10,000 years ago nowadays. The year started with Trump’s inauguration. Then, about half a year later, the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville happened.
It was a flashpoint moment for white supremacists in the U.S., but Twitter’s cesspool qualities weren’t really cemented until the following year. It’s not clear when the not-acquisition happened, but clearly Iger saw something building even back then.
He recognizes, like many social media-savvy observers, that a platform like Twitter can do plenty of good in the world, but also plenty of bad. “I didn’t want to take that on,” he said.
It’s too bad. There’s no way of knowing what a Disney-run Twitter would look like in 2019, of course. But given the company’s brand identity, you’ve got to think there would be considerably fewer Nazis mouthing off than there are under Jack Dorsey’s watch.