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Twitter wants to make a ‘decentralised standard for social media’


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If you’ve read any of the long-form articles (or the book) about Twitter’s history, you might have formed the opinion that CEO Jack Dorsey is good at Big Ideas, but not always quite as good at the details. With that in mind, here’s a new Big Idea from Jack Dorsey!

“Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard,” he tweeted yesterday, before explaining the motivation. “First, we’re facing entirely new challenges centralized solutions are struggling to meet. For instance, centralized enforcement of global policy to address abuse and misleading information is unlikely to scale over the long-term without placing far too much burden on people. Second, the value of social media is shifting away from content hosting and removal, and towards recommendation algorithms directing one’s attention. Unfortunately, these algorithms are typically proprietary, and one can’t choose or build alternatives. Yet. Third, existing social media incentives frequently lead to attention being focused on content and conversation that sparks controversy and outrage, rather than conversation which informs and promotes health. Finally, new technologies have emerged to make a decentralized approach more viable. 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.”

How much progress a ‘small independent team of up to five’ people can make on all this may be debatable, but it’s an interesting stance to be taking from the social network.

Stuart Dredge

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