Frank McCourt, American businessman and former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is investing $100 million to rebuild social media’s foundation, for this, he introduced Project Liberty a few months back.
Project Liberty is motivated by a fear of the power that a few large corporations, most notably Facebook have amassed over the last decade. McCourt said,
We are constantly watched, and what is happening with this massive accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few, that’s incredibly destabilizing. It threatens capitalism because capitalism needs to have some form of fairness in it to survive.
Project Liberty aims to hasten the world’s transition to an open, inclusive data economy in which citizens have control. At its heart is a shift from centralized to decentralized governance a future in which all people benefit directly from their participation and contribution. The success of this work is dependent on many people and organizations actively working together to shape a better future.
McCourt believes that blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, could be the solution. Project Liberty would use blockchain to build the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP), a new internet infrastructure. Blockchain stores information about tokens in everyone’s digital wallets for cryptocurrencies, the DSNP would do the same for social connections.
This new model paves the way for a new type of innovation in which value is distributed more equitably and people are protected by higher, healthier standards. It lays the groundwork for greater civic and commercial engagement and impact. It aims to reduce barriers to social innovation, tap into the collective energy and wisdom, and capitalize on the human desire to collaborate.
McCourt hired Woodham to create the protocol and promised to invest $75 million in a research institute at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and Sciences Po in Paris to study technology that benefits society. The rest of his $100 million will be used to encourage entrepreneurs to create services that use the DSNP.
The blockchain protocol concept is similar to Bluesky, a project Jack Dorsey has been pushing at Twitter. Dorsey has been at the center of a debate about how companies like his should police their users.
Andrew McLaughlin, Former Deputy CTO of the US and former head of global public policy at Google, stated that,
The centralization of economic activity, political dialogue, and social life onto a handful of global tech platforms has created a large and interlocking set of vulnerabilities and threats. DSNP is a bold, promising, and concrete shared social infrastructure that applies known technologies, uses proven models of open source development, and embodies clear and vital values. It has all the right ingredients to be a profound game-changer
While the power of social media companies makes many people uneasy, critics accuse them of not wielding it effectively, allowing abusive behavior.
A decentralized approach to social media may weaken the power of content moderation by making it easier for users who are kicked off one platform to simply migrate their audiences to more permissive platforms. According to McCourt and Woodham blockchain could discourage bad behavior because people would be tied to their posts forever.
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