Twitter leader Jack Dorsey has his eyes on a decentralized version of social media (Credits: Getty Images/EyeEm).
When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey justified banning his platform to Donald Trump, he mentioned another project he was working on: Blue.
The project, which aims to address Twitter’s shortcomings due to hate speech and real violence on the platform, aims to become a decentralized social media platform based on the Bitcoin model.
But what kind of social media project is this?
The first public announcement about Bluesky took place in late 2019, when Dorsey said he wanted a small, independent team of five open-source architects, engineers and designers to develop an open, decentralized standard for social media.
Twitter is funding a small independent team of five free software architects, engineers and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to eventually become a customer of this standard. ð§µ
– jack (@jack) December 11, 2019
Decentralized applications have been around since the invention of Bitcoin a decade ago.
Unlike a traditional application that is created and owned by an individual or a company, decentralized applications have no centralized ownership and often operate in a chain.
The blockchain, which is a set of mutually agreed upon rules, keeps control outside of central authority and gives each user equal authority.
In the case of Bitcoin, this means that no financial authority, such as a bank or government, controls the currency.
The social network will be based on the same blockchain technology used by Bitcoin (Photo: Getty)
For Twitter, this would mean that decisions about what content to moderate would not be made by social media managers like Dorsey.
In essence, Mr. Dorsey is ceding control of his company’s standards instead of relying on rules approved by the community.
Although the project seems innovative, many members of the decentralized applications (Dapps) community were skeptical when the announcement was made.
Mastodon, a social network founded in 2016, is very similar to what Dorsey proposed.
At the time, the team working on the application was not very impressed.
After mentioning enforcement this time, Dorsey gave more credence to existing decentralized social media norms and said his team would try to contribute to what already exists.
added Ms. Dorsey: Whatever the final direction, we will do this work in a way that is completely transparent to the public.
Twitter’s CEO isn’t the only one interested in the potential of social media with less centralized power.
After the social networking site Parler was banned and Silicon Valley giants were concerned about privacy, many more obscure applications have appeared on the App Store and Google Play and are hugely popular.
On Tuesday, even before Dorsey’s announcement, Mastodon was the hottest project on Github, a platform for developers to collaborate on software projects.
After criticism of the 2019 announcement, which fits the Silicon Valley stereotype of big tech companies opening up their existing technology, Twitter went back on its plans to build an entirely new system from scratch.
Mr. Blusky went on to say that the team was free to identify and review all the great work that had already been done, and if they felt it would be better to work to a 100% standard that was already in place, then they would do so.
But yesterday’s update clearly shows that Dorsey and her team are still passionate about the project.
Free software developers, the Dapp community, suspect that Big Tech is getting involved in their community.
After the 2019 announcement, Mastodon wrote It’s not an ad to reinvent the wheel. This announces the creation of a protocol that will control Twitter in the same way Google controls Android.
Mastodon founder Eugène Rochko also warned of the Hug, Stretch, Blussing phenomenon when a large company adopts an open standard and then takes control of the system to make a profit.
And one of Twitter’s biggest problems – hate speech – won’t necessarily be solved by a decentralized approach, either.
There is still much unknown about the Blueskis and their progress.
While observers and former Twitter employees predicted the project would move forward at a glacial pace, it seems the team brainstormed last February.
In the spirit of decentralization, we had a crazy idea: What if we brought strangers together in a virtual space to get rid of the common vision of blue?
– bluesy (@bluesky) February 20, 2020
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