Bluesky, Twitter decentralized social media project, has appointed Jay Graber as its new leader. The crypto developer will now be in charge of running Twitter’s decentralized social media division, which will operate independently from Twitter.
— Jay Graber (@arcalinea) August 16, 2021
Graber was one of the main contributors to the development of the Zcash cryptocurrency for 2 years and has ample experience as a software engineer.
She made the announcement via tweeter back on August 16th, explaining she had been working closely with, “ a group of thinkers and builders from the decentralized social ecosystem,” over the past years.
“Efforts to decentralize social networks hope to structurally change the balance of power in favor of users by giving them the ability to change services easily and control their identity and data”, Graber said in a blog post published back in January, “A passionate community of people keeps working on decentralized alternatives because these technical architectures change the relationship between users and platforms, giving users more options,” she added.
The next steps for the new leader of Bluesky are to hire the team that will develop the ecosystem as well as to establish partnerships with companies that can accelerate the fulfillment of Bluesky’s mission.
Bluesky: A Project Years In The Making
Bluesky was first announced by Twitter’s CEO and founder Jack Dorsey back in December of 2019 via a Tweet.
In the announcement, Dorsey said that Bluesky would be a small team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers that would operate independently of the company to create a new standard for social media.
Twitter is funding a small 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. ????
— jack (@jack) December 11, 2019
This new standard would ultimately become the standard for Twitter’s own client, which was initially intended to be way less centralized than it would eventually become according to Dorsey.
The inception of blockchain technology made it easier for a decentralized approach to be taken at a time when several sociological factors made decentralization a model to consider.
Decentralized social media has gained popularity among privacy and free speech advocates as a result of the increasing difficulties centralized platforms have to deal with in terms of global policy, obligations regarding misinformation, data protection, and more.
The increasing efforts on the development of Web3 have also boosted the popularity of decentralized social media platforms like Mastodon, Diaspora, LBRY, and many others.
What Would Bluesky’s Success Mean?
Dorsey’s vision of destroying the barriers between social media services by creating a protocol that allows the creation of clients instead of whole ecosystems with their own protocols, would provide users with a more diverse experience and control over their data.
While such an approach would require major companies like Facebook, Reddit, VK, and WeChat to adopt the new protocol to gain mass adoption, users and developers could start working on their own solutions as alternatives to major social media platforms.
However, Dorsey has stated that Twitter would adopt the protocol by having Twitter operate as a client instead of an independent ecosystem, which could be enough to attract a user base big enough for other companies to integrate the protocol into their platforms.
The result would be not having multiple social media platforms but a network of them, in which each user would have access to a wide variety of clients that would offer different functionality, designs, and services to provide a more personalized experience.
In terms of content moderation, organizations could implement different approaches depending on their internal policies, which would not undermine their right to prohibit content.
While Twitter management has talked a good game when it comes to freedom of expression, the acts by the platform tell a different story. Bluesky may be a solution, but only if it is truly a place where free speech is welcome.