Sunday 22 January 2017 11:57 am

This Twitter founder thinks tech could become the next big tobacco

One of the founders of Twitter has said that online is turning into a "a nasty business" and that the big technology companies must take action before they become as reviled as big tobacco, oil or pharma.

"You can do all these wonderful things online but it's turning into a nasty business," said Biz Stone in an interview with the Sunday Times.

Several issues have soured the reputation of technology companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and others, including fake news, trolling and abuses, fudging online advertising numbers, tax arrangements, and account hacks.

Silicon Valley "need to make the right choices" said Stone, who left the social network in 2011 and has since founded several companies, including online publishing platform Medium and Jelly, a Q&A app first launched in 2014 which he has recently started to push again.

Read more: Bye-bye Obama, hello Trump: But what happens to @POTUS after inauguration?

On Twitter, which he co-founded with Ev Williams and lately returned chief executive Jack Dorsey, Stone said the struggling company has to be willing to make some hard choices, but believes it can continue.

Twitter was on the chopping block late last year with a sale to the likes of Salesforce, Disney and Google on the cards as it continues to struggle with reproducing the astonishing growth experienced by Faccebook. It is now ploughing ahead solo, but has had several high profile departures. But at the same time, the platform has never been more central to politics with President Donald Trump highly active on the platform and incredibly vocal.

Stone said: "Hundreds of millions of people rely on it. It is the place to go for breaking news, The press loves it. It is woven into government. The world needs Twitter. It just needs to be tended to and tended to fast enough."