Jack Dorsey: Twitter Developing Decentralized Standard for Social Media

Ruben Fields
December 12, 2019

The emergence of blockchain technology makes a decentralised approach more viable now.

It will take the Bluesky team years to develop this protocol, Dorsey said, and the aim is for Twitter to be ultimately rearchitected on top of it, in what would be an unprecedented demonstration of the viability of a decentralized social media protocol's viability.

Twitter has formed a new engineering team dedicated to building a new decentralized social media system.

Twitter Inc plans to set up an independent research group to create an "open and decentralized" system for social networks, CEO Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday, which could relieve pressure on the company to appease critics of its content policies but also give rise to a new crop of competitors.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been rocking the social network boat.

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.

In a series of tweets, the Twitter chief stated the centralized internet is facing huge issues including centralized enforcement of global policy to address abuse and misleading information, the over-reliance on controversial and outrageous statements instead of informative statements and proprietary recommendation algorithms on sites. The company has created Blue Sky, a small independent team, to build the standard that will ultimately host Twitter, Dorsey said.

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Others quickly pointed out that Mozilla, Mastodon, diaspora*, and the W3C have all worked on decentralized social networks.

Prodromou added: "Overall, I'm very hopeful for this first step".

How does this help social media?

"So they fixed the problems, and their design became OAuth 1.0a", Prodromou said.

"This isn't going to happen overnight", Dorsey conceded. Twitter, in contrast, has more than 300 million monthly active users. "In 2020, we will be using our voice to more prominently support and foster the values of a free and open internet".

Developed by a new team called "Bluesky", it will take inspiration from email and try offer an alternative to traditional, centralized social media platforms.

That will be the only HR interference from Twitter, Dorsey said, explaining that the project's lead will then have to choose the rest of the five-strong team alone. It will be interesting to see what Twitter, which is far more popular than either does with this approach.

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