WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Most companies and social networks are run and managed centrally but decentralised platforms and protocols using DLT’s completely change the game.
After selling his company Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who often talked about turning Twitter into a protocol rather than a “traditional company,” seems to have made good on his vision after he unveiled his new company Bluesky Social, a completely new form of “decentralized social network” that reportedly aims “to reclaim user data.” Dorsey stepped down as CEO of the social network he co-founded in 2006 in May 2022.
It should be noted that Bluesky, which I’ve written about before and given keynotes on – see below – is not yet ready, but it’s a very ambitious play to fundamentally disrupt how almost every company and every social network is designed and run. The app is currently in private beta testing and will soon be available to the public.
The Future of Companies and Work, by Keynote Matthew Griffin (Skip to 14:52)
Bluesky’s team unveiled the plan for its decentralized social network protocol, which will be the core code for the new Bluesky app, on October 25.
According to Dorsey, in essence, its ATP protocol would allow users to move between various social platforms using just one high-end browser – its app – while managing what they see and how much data they share with those platforms.
Decentralization is not just a system developed to serve cryptocurrencies. It is, above all, a desire to protect private data by allowing it to escape the control of a single entity. A vision dear to Dorsey’s heart and a great advocate of Bitcoin and Web 5.0 – which is another thing he recently postulated about – this is part of a very Web 3.0 approach for this emblematic Web 2.0 figure.
As such, Dorsey has been working for three years on building what he calls the “Authenticated Transfer Protocol” or ATP. This aims to offer its users the portability of their accounts, but also interestingly the choice of the algorithms they want to use and interoperability between the various social networks. This is basically a completely new type of private data management system unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
According to Dorsey, the backbone of the app is user data, stating that Bluesky will be free of political influence and will be managed by users rather than marketed by companies.
Dorsey’s app has the potential to revolutionize the economics of personal data and advertising revenue.
User account data can also be transferred across platforms thanks to the app’s code and
Bluesky users will be able to log in with their account on any social network that applies the new code. In this way, they will have access to all their favorite social networks through a single account interface.
“It’s a competitor to any company trying to take over the basic fundamentals of social networks, or the data of the people who use them,” Dorsey tweeted. Which includes virtually all social networks, including Musk’s ad-laden version of Twitter.
News of a decentralized social media platform has unsurprisingly excited the cryptocurrency community, but closer inspection reveals that the underlying technology will not be purely blockchain-based.
“I’m confident in our decision not to put social media content on a blockchain,” tweeted Bluesky CEO Jay Graber. “It’s blockchain independent and optional. Personally, I wouldn’t create a system that supports your posts on the blockchain,” he further added.
According to Dorsey, Twitter could also make use of Bluesky’s underlying structure. The goal is for Twitter to eventually become a client of this standard, he continued.
The Bluesky federated network, a decentralized network of computer systems, is the first release of the ATP which is being touted as the “best solution for large-scale distributed social applications,” with the ability to allow different servers to communicate with each other, similar to email, because multiple sites can run the same network.
In other words, “you may select the company, and people, and the organizations that can self-host if they need to.”
The vision behind Bluesky is as follows: “The World-Wide Web wouldn’t have been much fun if it had been created without a browser, and the same goes for the AT protocol. So we’re also building a social application called Bluesky. That was the original name of this project before it took shape, and it’s still the name of our company.”
There are a number of features that could make ATP for social networking very attractive. For instance, the possibility for its users to directly manage the algorithms to which their account may be subjected. Fundamentally the idea of the new protocol is to regain control over “what we see and who we are able to reach,” on social media, which would be a good way to escape from many of today’s infamous echo chambers.
“A person’s online identity should not belong to companies that are not accountable to their users. With the AT protocol, you can move your account from one provider to another without losing any of your social graph data,” Dorsey said.
All this comes with interoperability, which is the fear of the centralized Web 2.0 giants because it means allowing users to move freely from one network to another. But, as explained in the Bluesky protocol presentation, “the world needs a diverse marketplace of connected services to ensure healthy competition. And not a sterile hostage-taking that purposely makes any data transfer very complicated, if not impossible.”
You can sign up on this waiting list to be one of its first beta users.