With Elon Musk’s announced purchase of Twitter for about $44 billion, the stranglehold of the world’s billionaires on the world’s media outlets has tightened. Cases in point: Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post; Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg still exert a massive amount of influence on the companies they founded, and Michael Bloomberg controls the Bloomberg Media Group.
Is there any remedy for the relentless march of the billionaires toward global media domination?
The short answer is yes, but to understand how the proposed solution works, it would help to first take a step back to understand the context in which this discussion is taking place.
Twitter was built to be an open, inclusive arena for free speech for everyone around the world. However, like the other businesses and media companies mentioned above, it is still a Web2-based centralized platform. It generates income by serving targeted ads to users based on their data and selling consumer data to other service providers. No matter how you dissect it, there is a conflict there. How can Twitter claim to be a bastion of free speech, when its primary source of income is monetizing that speech – user data – while maintaining centralized control over what people can say, who can say it and what the public sees on the platform.
In a recent TED talk, Musk discussed some of the issues he sees with Twitter and how he plans to address them. The solutions he proposed practically oozed the Web3 ethos, without him explicitly saying that Twitter needed to transition to a Web3 model. He effectively stated that Twitter needs transparency, immutability and, if he were to succeed (he has), decentralized ownership if at all possible – all core components of the open, user-owned Web3 internet.
Now that Mr. Musk effectively owns Twitter, one can assume that he can nudge the company toward that direction. If it is to go there, it will eventually have to overcome the conflicting philosophies of having a decentralized platform that empowers individuals, while surreptitiously using those individuals for big data profits.
There is a better way to drive truly decentralized ownership of large platforms such as Twitter while empowering individuals and eliminating the problems of censorship and overreach. The cryptocurrency and blockchain industry is littered with good ideas and projects, many of which can easily be scaled up to effectively solve these issues. But what of the existential conflict at the heart of the business? The answer lies at the very core of Web3, where – according to the Web3 Foundation – the very first tenet is “an internet where…users own their data, not corporations.”
There it is: Step one of addressing this issue. Will this be a tough sell in the Twitter board room? Probably. Like with the other problems, is Web3 already producing projects that demonstrate how this can be done properly? Absolutely.
Projects like Cirus are closing the gap between users and their data, and showing how including the user in the value equation won’t break the business model of the internet. In fact, the very idea of users owning their data brings brands and users closer together in a non-adversarial way. The end result is better data, more efficiency, and more value for all parties involved. The greasy, behind-the-scenes nature of Web2 big-data business models will prove to be inefficient and clunky by comparison.
Cirus’ Web Extension allows users to own, and start earning from their own data. It is the first in a lineup of tools designed to arm users with the most comprehensive and valuable version of their data-asset. That asset then becomes the user’s access point into other Web3 services and ecosystems. This solution is philosophically in line with the rest of Musk’s “kind of Web3” plans for Twitter and it solves the inconsistency at the heart of the platform.
That same dilemma exists within most of the major Web2 big-data driven platforms. An elegant way to pivot away from the “we’re taking your data while you’re distracted” business model is needed. In this way, Cirus can be the conduit for Web2-based platforms and corporations to transition into Web3. With it, they will gain the benefits of transparency, individual empowerment, democratized access to earning opportunities, and the network effects that will accrue in different ecosystems built around Web3 models.
While many corporations are still on the fence about taking the plunge into Web3 (and understandably so, since they do not want to relinquish their centralized control of their platforms and ecosystems), forward-thinking business leaders such as Elon Musk are making it clear that the current model is simply unsustainable and the Internet, perhaps sooner than later, must pivot to the decentralized Web3….even if he’s just casually spending $44 Billion, rather than saying it directly.
The last piece, the elephant in the room, is who will own the user data. With Web3 you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Platforms will have to find a way to truly include the user in the value equation. Cirus is at the forefront of this transition and invites everyone to join the revolution by visiting https://cirusfoundation.com/.