Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced Tuesday that the company is funding a new research team to develop “open and decentralized standards for social media,” in part to address some of the problems that currently exist on Twitter’s platform. The idealized long-term vision is to make social media networks more e-mail-like, so that users can join different networks, but they can still communicate with each other regardless of which network they use.
Mr Dorsey says shared technology standards also give users easier control over how content is recommended by social networks, reducing the tendency to be directed to extreme content and users, while also hopefully keeping them engaged. In addition, social networks will make it easier to limit hate speech and other abusive behavior, so that the burden can be shared at a lower cost.
Some social media platforms already operate on a decentralised framework, with the most popular being the open source social network Mastodon. Tim Berners-Lee, founder of World Wide Web, has launched several projects that promote the decentralization of the Internet. But these projects are difficult to attract users, and Twitter has more than 300 million loyal users, which could help Dorsey push the standards and persuade other social networks to support them.
However, Facebook is unlikely to be willing to cede control to an outside consortium, which now has more than 2 billion users and dominates the field. A Facebook spokesman has yet to comment.
Dorsey announced the vision via Twitter message, saying it would fund a team called Bluesky, which will consist of up to five architects, engineers and designers responsible for setting the standards. Mr Dorsey said his goal was that One day Twitter would become a “customer” of the network, but that it could take years to develop.
“For social media, we want this team to either find and advance an existing de-centralization standard or create one from scratch.” Dorsey said. “That’s the only direction Twitter will offer. “
Dorsey added that the standard allows Twitter to focus on “creating open recommendation algorithms to promote healthy conversations.”