Facebook on blockchain? A real estate mogul is pouring US$100 million into decentralising social media

Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc, blockchain, bitcoin, project Dorsey has been pushing, riot at the US Capitol

Frank McCourt, the billionaire real estate mogul and former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is pouring US$100 million into an attempt to rebuild the foundations of social media. The effort, which he has loftily named Project Liberty, centers on the construction of a publicly accessible database of people’s social connections, allowing users to move records of their relationships between social media services instead of being locked into a few dominant apps. 

The undercurrent to Project Liberty is a fear of the power that a few huge companies – and specifically Facebook Inc – have amassed over the last decade. “I never thought I would be questioning the security of our underlying systems, namely democracy and capitalism,” McCourt said. “We live under constant surveillance, and what’s happening with this massive accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few, that’s incredibly destabilising. It threatens capitalism because capitalism needs to have some form of fairness in it in order to survive.”

McCourt is hardly the only one to feel this way. Others are trying to reform social media by passing new laws or regulations, waiting for the next generation of start-ups to disrupt the current incumbents, or pressuring Facebook to look inward and revise its business model. McCourt, along with others like Twitter Inc chief executive officer Jack Dorsey, say the solution may be blockchain, the technology underpinning bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

Project Liberty would use blockchain to construct a new internet infrastructure called the Decentralised Social Networking Protocol. With cryptocurrencies, blockchain stores information about the tokens in everyone’s digital wallets; the DSNP would do the same for social connections. Facebook owns the data about the social connections between its users, giving it an enormous advantage over competitors. If all social media companies drew from a common social graph, the theory goes, they’d have to compete by offering better services, and the chance of any single company becoming so dominant would plummet. 

Building DSNP falls to Braxton Woodham, the co-founder of the meal delivery service Sun Basket and former chief technology officer of Fandango, the movie ticket website. Woodham had been toying with the idea of building something like DSNP, but didn’t imagine anyone would be interested in investing in it. When he mulled the idea over with McCourt, he says, “I just thought we were talking about our daydreams, I didn’t think it was something we’d actually do.”

Instead, McCourt hired Woodham to build the protocol, and pledged to put US$75 million into an institute at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and Sciences Po in Paris to research technology that serves the common good. The rest of his US$100 million will go toward pushing entrepreneurs to build services that utilise the DSNP. McCourt calls this his third attempt to fix social media, after previously investing in tech companies he thought would help transform the way people interact online. His previous attempts convinced him that entrepreneurs must be supported by academic thinkers exploring the industry’s biggest ethical questions.

The blockchain protocol idea echoes a project Dorsey has been pushing at Twitter called Bluesky. Dorsey has been at the centre of the fight over how companies like his should police their users. He said after Twitter banned former president Donald Trump that a blockchain-based social graph would reduce the stakes when private companies make user decisions. “The reason I have so much passion for bitcoin is largely because of the model it demonstrates: a foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity,” Dorsey tweeted on Jan. 13. “This is what the internet wants to be, and over time, more of it will be.”

While the power of social media companies makes many people uneasy, critics also accuse them of not wielding their power effectively, allowing for abusive behaviour. A decentralised approach to social media could actually undermine 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 ones. McCourt and Woodham say blockchain could discourage bad behaviour because people would be tied to their posts forever. 

Before Project Liberty grapples with such problems it has to worry about attracting enough people to matter. The current way of doing things is deeply entrenched, and Project Liberty is proposing that the entire internet start doing things drastically differently. Eventually, the group plans to create its own consumer product on top of the DSNP infrastructure, and wrote in a press release that the eventual result will be an “open, inclusive data economy where individuals own, control and derive greater social and economic value from their personal information.”

McCourt also believes that recent history has underscored the disfunction of the current system, punctuated by the misinformation-fuelled riot at the US Capitol on January 6. What do social media users really have to lose? “Look at the cesspool that’s been created,” he said. “Look at the reality that the internet has become.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Alibaba, Tencent rebrand NFT offerings as ‘digital collectibles' amid Beijing's scrutiny of new virtual asset market

Chinese technology giants Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings have both renamed their non-fungible token (NFT) offerings as “digital collectibles”, as Beijing casts a weary eye on this new virtual ... Read more »

Apple says its MacBook Pro notch is actually really smart thank you very much

Despite some cool product drops, last week’s Apple Event was really about the notch. If you’ve been living under a rock (oh, how I envy you), Apple announced its revamped ... Read more »

Quick - these Sennheiser headphones have dropped to their lowest ever price

If you’re looking for a pair of noise-cancelling headphones ahead of Black Friday, check out these fantastic Sennheiser headphones deals on the Momentum 3 Wireless and PXC 550-II Wireless. Costing ... Read more »

​​Donald Trump Jr sells T-shirts mocking Alec Baldwin set shooting

Donald Trump Jr has begun selling merchandise that mocks Alec Baldwin, who fatally shot a cinematographer during an on-set incident last week. Mr Trump has been sharing several Instagram photos ... Read more »

Lewis Hamilton details why Red Bull are currently ‘just quicker' than Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media after the US Grand Prix (Getty) Lewis Hamilton conceded Red Bull were “just quicker” at the United States Grand Prix after he finished 1.333 ... Read more »

Exclusive: Scam calls from foreign countries to be blocked under landmark plans

Scam illustration Foreign fraudsters will be stopped from making hundreds of millions of scam phone calls under landmark plans to protect the British public. Major phone networks have agreed to ... Read more »

Windows XP turns 20: Why it's time to say goodbye

Monday October 25th marks the 20th anniversary of Windows XP, the first operating system launched by Microsoft in the 21st century. Codenamed “Neptune” during development, Windows XP was originally just ... Read more »

(LEAD) LG vice chairman Kwon tapped as new head of LG Energy Solution

(ATTN: ADDS info on plan to speed up IPO process in last para) SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) — LG Energy Solution Ltd. said Monday it has tapped Kwon Young-soo, vice ... Read more »

China's new property tax may prompt owners of multiple homes to sell down their holdings before prices take a hit, say analysts

News that China is to pilot a much-heralded property tax in selected cities may have a psychological impact on the market, prompting owners of multiple homes to sell down their ... Read more »

JioPhone Next video shares details of vision in ties with Google, Qualcomm

Reliance has confirmed that the JioPhone Next, which was developed in partnership with Google, would be arriving in India next week on Diwali. Ahead of the launch, Jio has released ... Read more »

(2nd LD) LG Chem Q3 net income up 19.2 pct despite battery recall costs

(ATTN: ADDS more details from conference call in paras 7-10, byline, photo)By Kim Seung-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) — LG Chem Ltd., South Korea’s leading chemical company, said Monday its ... Read more »

Hyundai Motor chief vows to cooperate on EVs with Indonesia

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun (left) poses with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, next to Hyundai Motor’s Electrified G80 at the Jakarta International Expo Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday. ... Read more »

Volvo cuts the size of its initial public offering by a fifth to US$2.3 billion amid soaring oil cost, supply chain disruptions

Volvo Car slashed its initial public offering (IPO) by a fifth, making it the latest in a string of European companies to pull back from equity markets roiled by soaring ... Read more »

UK phone companies to ban millions of calls from abroad in fraud crackdown

Phone companies will automatically block almost all internet calls coming from abroad, under plans to combat foreign fraud, Ofcom has said. All international calls found to be falsely using a ... Read more »

War fears soar as NASA claims it needs nuclear rockets to rival China in space

The agency’s officials were testifying at a House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee hearing on Wednesday – and called for new weapons to help the US reach Mars before powers ... Read more »

Top Chinese live streamer sells nearly US$2 billion in goods in 12 hours in run up to Singles' Day shopping festival

China’s Li Jiaqi, a top live-stream salesman widely known as the “lipstick brother”, sold US$1.9 billion in goods on the first day of pre-sales leading up to Alibaba’s annual shopping ... Read more »

Why buyers are finding it tough to buy premium phones from Apple, Samsung

Demand has outstripped supply just before the crucial Diwali shopping period for premium consumer electronics and smartphones with several popular models vanishing from the market.Retailers and industry executives said several ... Read more »

SK pledges to create more jobs for young people

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, right, attends the Youth Hope ON ceremony along with Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum at a research center of SK hynix in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. ... Read more »

Micros point of sale (POS) system review

Get a quote for a POS system today. Micros POS system is perhaps one of the best point of sale (POS) systems for restaurants, hotel resorts, bars, cafés, and casinos. ... Read more »

MacBook Pro 2021: Apple explains how the notch and new screen design helped improve display sizes

Photo credit: Apple / YouTube screenshot Most people might not have expected it, but the new MacBook Pros' screen design became one of the biggest talking points after they were ... Read more »

‘Squid Game' success reignites debate over Netflix' free-riding on local networks

(Reuters-Yonhap)Netflix’s global success with “Squid Game” is providing the perfect ground for South Korea to push for legal measures that would make foreign streaming giants stop “free riding” on internet ... Read more »

The big dig: Eight of the UK's most amazing archaeological sites you can visit

(Getty Images) Harrison Ford’s appearances in Glasgow and Northumberland this summer confirmed that our favourite archaeologist will soon be back on our cinema screens, 40 years after Raiders of the ... Read more »

Squid Game-themed apps pave way for hackers to snack on your data

Unlike Squid Game, investing is not generally a lose-everything scenario — although it can be if you put all your eggs in one basket: it was devastating for those who ... Read more »

Hyundai Motor chairman to support creation of EV ecosystem in Indonesia

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun, left, poses with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, by an Electrified G80 sedan during a ceremony at Jakarta International Expo in Jakarta, Monday, to celebrate ... Read more »

Tesco says online services back up after interference "attempt"

British supermarket chain Tesco said its website and app are back up after the services were disrupted by an attempt to interfere with its systems. “Our online grocery website and ... Read more »

How Google is helping Facebook in its fight against Apple

Google has teamed up with Facebook to work around Apple‘s privacy tools in Safari to continue tracking end-users, an update to an antitrust lawsuit claims, with the search engine also ... Read more »

Apple iOS 15.1 releasing today with new features: Everything you need to know

Apple is all set to roll out the iOS 15.1 update for eligible iPhones. The update was officially announced last week during the Unleashed event last week where the company ... Read more »

New app Caura to save motorists ‘millions' in fines as Ulez expands

A new app aiming to help motorists save up to £864 million in penalties under the expansion of London’s Ulez (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) scheme is being launched today. Claiming to ... Read more »

Taliban offer jobs for wheat to tackle hunger and unemployment

Afghanistan’s Taliban government launched a programme to tackle hunger on Sunday, offering thousands of people wheat in exchange for labour. Read more »

Watch as sheep take over the streets of Madrid

Out of the paddock- and into the city. The streets of Madrid were filled with sheep on Sunday (October 24) as shepherds guided their flocks through the heart of the ... Read more »

Jamie Laing dishes the dirt on 6 degrees podcast co-creator Spencer Matthews

Candy Kittens mogul Jamie Laing reveals what he and fellow former Made In Chelsea star, Spencer Matthews, get up to behind the scenes of their podcast, 6 Degrees from Jamie ... Read more »

KT to help businesses expand AI customer service calls

A smartphone screen shows technology employing artificial intelligence (AI) developed by KT for automatically dealing with customer calls. Courtesy of KT By Yi Whan-woo KT, the country’s telecommunications operator, said ... Read more »

Xbox series X stock - live: Could Currys restock consoles next? What to know

Xbox series X stock – live: Could Currys restock consoles next? What to know Almost a full year since launching, the Xbox series X remains sold out across all UK ... Read more »

(LEAD) LG Chem Q3 net income up 19.2 pct despite battery recall costs

(ATTN: ADDS more details throughout) SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) — LG Chem Ltd., South Korea’s leading chemical company, said Monday its third-quarter net profit rose 19.2 percent from a year ... Read more »

Not pursuing acquisition of Pinterest, says PayPal

PayPal Inc is not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest Inc at this time, the payments company said, responding to media reports that it was in talks to buy the digital ... Read more »

Australia plans to force social media companies to get parental consent for use by minors

Australia unveiled plans on Monday to make social media companies obtain parental consent for users under the age of 16, with multimillion dollar fines for failing to comply. Draft legislation ... Read more »

Here's why Tesla has pulled its Full Self-Driving beta

The release of the new driving assist system to some owners of Tesla models, which the company said featured several improvements, had been announced for Friday, October 22. US electric ... Read more »

JioPhone Next key features revealed ahead of November 4 launch

Reliance Jio, last week confirmed that the JioPhone Next is on schedule and will come on Diwali this year i.e. November 4. Now, the upcoming phone has been spotted on ... Read more »

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 design, specs: ‘Ultra' model has a display notch on the side in new renders

Photo credit: Silivan Munguarakarama / Unsplash Samsung’s new flagship tablet series is coming later than anticipated, but new leaks suggest it is definitely in the pipeline. A recent report has revealed renders of ... Read more »

[ANALYSIS] Korea seeks US support for 'backbone industries'

U.S. President Joe Biden holds up a silicon wafer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 12, during the virtual CEO Summit on Semiconductor and Supply Chain Resilience. ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic