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Imagining a decentralised social media

If I understand correctly Twitter’s Project Bluesky investigates the possibility of building a decentralised social media in which protocols (rules facilitating communication) and access (the process of communicating) are separated in order to open up social platforms in a radical way. As it was summarised in Protocol’s Source Code newsletter on Feb 10th:

What if all of social media was built on top of the same stuff? If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube had access to all the same content, and differed only in what they showed and the experience they built around it? Companies would compete on privacy, on features, on user safety, and nobody would keep winning based on past success. It’s a fascinating hypothetical, even if it’ll almost certainly never happen that way.

It’s difficult to imagine a commercial platform ever enacting this because the the business model would be so uncertain. It wouldn’t solve all the problems of social media e.g. there would still be a risk that algorithmic amplification is relied upon to offer particularly exciting and arresting modes of access to the stream. However it would mitigate at least some of the problems of surveillance capitalism by moving the locus of monetisation from the contents of the stream to user access to the stream.

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Mark

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