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Twitter’s Jack Dorsey Wants to Decentralize Social Media

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has long been a proponent of Bitcoin. His startup Cash.App features a crypto buy and sell feature. 

Dorsey recently announced that Twitter would fund a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. Twitter, then, would be a client of this standard. 

Twitter was initially open source, and many theorized it could be a decentralized internet standard like SMTP (email protocol), according to Dorsey. Twitter went the centralized route. But, Dorsey admits, a lot has changed over the years.

He sees the value of social media shifting from content hosting and removal and towards algorithms that recommend how users should use their attention.

“Unfortunately, these algorithms are typically proprietary, and one can’t choose or build alternatives. Yet.”

He believes existing social media leads to attention being focused on content and conversation that sparks controversy and outrage. Not conversation.

Dorsey says new technologies emerged to make a decentralized approach possible. 

“Blockchain points to a series of decentralized solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization,” Dorsey said. “Much work to be done, but the fundamentals are there.”

Dorsey points out that Square is building an open protocol standard with Square Crypto. 

“For social media, we’d like this team to either find an existing decentralized standard they can help move forward, or failing that, create one from scratch,” he said. “That’s the only direction we at Twitter, Inc. will provide.?

The open standard will enable Twitter to access and contribute to a much larger corpus of public conversation, focus our efforts on building open recommendation algorithms, thus promoting healthy conversation.

“There are MANY challenges to make this work that Twitter would feel right becoming a client of this standard,” Dorsey admits, “Which is why the work must be done transparently in the open, not owned by any single private corporation, furthering the open & decentralized principles of the internet.”

Dorsey expects this team to develop both a decentralized standard for social media and build an open community around it, including companies and organizations, researchers, civil society leaders, all who are thinking about the consequences whether they be positive or negative. 

“This isn’t going to happen overnight,” says Dorsey. “It will take many years to develop a sound, scalable, and usable decentralized standard for social media that paves the path to solving the challenges listed above.” Twitter will fund this work “to that point and beyond.”

This isn’t going to happen overnight. 

“It will take many years to develop a sound, scalable, and usable decentralized standard for social media that paves the path to solving the challenges listed above,” he said. “Our commitment is to fund this work to that point and beyond.”

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