Twitter and Square CEO, Jack Dorsey, has just announced that Twitter is funding a small independent team to develop an open and decentralised social media standard. The ultimate aim is for Twitter to then be a client of this new standard.
Dorsey Brave New World
Whilst in its early years Twitter could potentially have become a decentralised internet standard, it ultimately took a path towards greater centralisation. However, in the current climate, Dorsey suggests that would not have been the best decision, citing four key changes:
- Centralised enforcement of policy to address abuse and ‘fake news’ cannot scale long-term without placing undue burden on manual monitoring.
- Social media value is shifting away from content hosting, and towards recommendation algorithms, which are proprietary and non-customisable.
- Existing incentives promote content which causes controversy and outrage, rather than informative and healthy dialogue.
- The emergence of blockchain technology makes a decentralised approach more viable now.
Blockchain points to a series of decentralized solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization. Much work to be done, but the fundamentals are there.
Twitter Will Take A Hands Off Approach
Although the team (of up to five open source architects, engineers and designers) will be funded by Twitter, its input will end there. The only direction provided is that the team should find an existing decentralised standard to develop, or create one from scratch.
The benefit to Twitter is that it will be able to access and contribute to a larger public conversation, whilst focusing on its own innovation in developing open (and healthier) recommendation algorithms.
Dorsey firmly believes that the new standard should be developed openly and transparently, and should not belong to any single private corporation. The team should also develop an open community around the project who will consider the positive and negative consequences of any decisions.
Whilst Dorsey accepts that it may take many years to “develop a sound, scalable, and usable decentralized standard for social media,” Twitter commits to fund the work to this point and beyond. Ultimately, Twitter intends to become a client of the standard.
Like Square Crypto, But For Social Media
Back in March, Dorsey announced just such an initiative for Bitcoin through Square, whereby the company funds Bitcoin developers to build out an open-source ecosystem. He has long been a champion of Bitcoin, claiming that it should be the ‘native currency of the internet’.
What do you think of Jack Dorsey’s lastest venture in blockchain ?