Disney CEO Bob Iger roasted Twitter for its ‘nastiness’ and says its abuse problem is why an acquisition never happened

Back in 2016, Disney came close to acquiring Twitter but abandoned the deal last minute.

The idea had been that it would use Twitter as a way to distribute its content to consumers but reports from the time indicated that the entertainment company eventually decided to back down because of the rampant bullying on Twitter's platform, which it thought could damage the company's image.

Its CEO Bob Iger confirmed these reports in an interview with New York Times over the weekend, which is linked to the launch of his new book, "The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company."

"The troubles were greater than I wanted to take on, greater than I thought it was responsible for us to take on," he told New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd.

"The nastiness is extraordinary. 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?' Like a lot of these platforms, they have the ability to do a lot of good in our world. They also have an ability to do a lot of bad. I didn't want to take that on."

A search on Twitter for tweets directed at Iger's account, @RobertIger, show that the CEO is indeed subject to some abuse. One fan of the "Star Wars" movie franchise told Iger to "grow your balls back" in a recent tweet, before using foul language about film producer Kathleen Kennedy, who runs Disney subsidiary Lucasfilm.

Dorsey's account of the floated Disney deal is a little different. In late 2017, he confirmed that Twitter had held acquisition talks — but said it was he who had decided not go ahead with a deal.

Read more: Twitter's abuse problem is reportedly part of the reason Disney chose not to buy it

This isn't the first time that Iger has been openly critical of social media platforms. At an awards dinner earlier in the year, he reportedly said that "Hitler would have loved social media."

"It's the most powerful marketing tool an extremist could ever hope for because by design social media reflects a narrow world view filtering out anything that challenges our beliefs while constantly validating our convictions and amplifying our deepest fears," he said at the time, adding: "It creates a false sense that everyone shares the same opinion. Social media allows evil to prey on troubled minds and lost souls and we all know that social news feeds can contain more fiction than fact, propagating vile ideology that has no place in a civil society that values human life."

For years, Twitter has grappled with the problem of abusive behavior on its platform and while it says it is working on solutions to tackle this, critics say it hasn't done so with enough urgency.

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