Twitter is hoping to solve some of social media’s woes with a new project designed to build a decentralised platform that may use blockchain.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey revealed that, behind the scenes, a project is taking shape that could overhaul the fabric of social media, should it come to pass. Dubbed Bluesky, the project will work quietly in the background as Dorsey admitted it could take years to complete and no one has started working on it yet.
It will be tasked with creating an open and decentralised standard for social media, which will eventually tie into the main Twitter platform. According to Dorsey, centralised systems are struggling to keep up with social media’s greatest challenges.
twitter was so open early on that many saw its potential to be a decentralized internet standard, like SMTP (email protocol). For a variety of reasons, all reasonable at the time, we took a different path and increasingly centralized Twitter. But a lot’s changed over the years…
— jack ??? (@jack) December 11, 2019
“For instance, centralised 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,” he tweeted.
“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.”
Dorsey credited TechDirt founder Mike Masnick – who has pushed the concept of ‘protocols, not platforms’ as a means of tackling content moderation issues – as inspiration for Bluesky.
Not the first of its kind
The company’s CTO Parag Agrawal is to start looking for a team lead for Bluesky who has “experience working in the open on the blockchain”, and will put together a team of up to five open-source architects, engineers and designers for the project.
Dorsey said that blockchain “points to a series of decentralised solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetisation”. He added that there is “much work to be done, but the fundamentals are there”.
The concept of decentralised social networks is not new, with a number of protocols already out there. For Twitter users, one of the more familiar ones would be Mastadon, which operates on open-source servers and a 500-character limit.
Another protocol, Sola, has no ability to follow a particular account, and instead uses AI to match content with those who might be interested.
Dorsey said the company would be open to using one of the existing decentralised standards with the aim of boosting it to Twitter’s millions of users, or it would look to build one from scratch.
“[Bluesky] will allow us to access and contribute to a much larger corpus of public conversation, focus our efforts on building open recommendation algorithms which promote healthy conversation, and will force us to be far more innovative than in the past,” Dorsey said.