Twitter puts plans to set up a dedicated research group to look into the possibility of creating an “open and decentralized” standard for social networks, which could relieve pressure on the company to avoid critics of its content policies but also give rise to a new array of competitors.
CEO Jack Dorsey announced plans to support an 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,” Dorsey said.
Centralized solutions are struggling to meet many new challenges faced by social networks, including large scale content moderation, Dorsey said, adding that the new decentralized standard will not be owned by any single private corporation.
The new project – called bluesky – would follow a model similar to Square Crypto, a bitcoin-focused entity separate from Dorsey’s fintech unicorn Square.
Likewise, the new Twitter entity would focus on open standards for decentralized processes across social platforms, rather than proprietary structures.
Although Dorsey didn’t directly associate the disparate efforts, he hinted that the “fundamentals” of blockchain technology might offer some tools for “open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization.”
If Bluesky presents results of any viability, it still could take years to see the effects. But it’s an unusual direction for a social network to take in 2019 — and it at least promises to expose interesting questions about how an internet that’s not full of walled gardens could work.