Twitter, YouTube, and Google are 1.0 Tech in Need of Replacements
Today, #TwitterLockOut is trending on Twitter. Apparently, they restricted the accounts of a sizable percentage of users. The reason is unclear but it may be somehow related to “Russian bots”. Last week, YouTube implemented more strict controls over its platform, which they claim is to protect its users from harmful videos, but many users are reporting that videos and content creators that could not be construed as harmful were targeted and/or “demonetized”.
These platforms have every right to control what is and is not published to their platforms. As businesses that own and control the platforms, they set the rules (within some pretty broad legal bounds). I completely support this right, in fact, I cherish their liberty to run their platforms as they see fit.
At the same time, I hold the view that this is not just dangerous and harmful to the content creators that are targeted, but also harmful and troubling for the public discourse. New platforms are sorely needed.
Large corporate gatekeepers have agendas that are not always what you might think
These companies are able to sell advertising because of the content created by users of their platforms. They do produce their own content, but it’s the contributions from their user communities that, by far, generate the most revenue for their businesses and ultimately, their shareholders.
Sometimes they limit content because they have legitimate issues with selling ad impressions for that type of content. I can understand this as a business decision, though believe that there is surely some price point that advertisers would pay for their ads on all but the most extreme, controversial content creators. Other times, especially recently, they’ve been limiting content because it does not square with their political and social agenda. While, again, they have the legal right to do this, as a concerned citizen, this is dangerous.
Like the television, radio, and newspapers that preceded new media, these large corporations are now how a significant percentage of the population receives news and important information about their countries and the world. Through this control, deciding what content is elevated and what is hidden or marginalized, they can, and probably have been, distorting the truth. Truth is a requirement for an informed population that can make reasoned, logical decisions about public policy and candidates for public office.
While these platforms have been shown to be revolutionary and provide people with instant, worldwide communication of information — news, ideas, issues — the “curation” that they’ve begun threatens the dissemination of truth, which ultimately can undermine democratic institutions.
It’s time for decentralized social media
There are many projects that are exploring various ways to remove a single point of control over content. A few that I find to be the most promising are Diaspora, Mastodon, and BitMessage, while there are other, newer projects that are also very beneficial. All of these projects are decentralized. By eliminating gatekeeping “data silos” that can (and have been) selectively promoting and demoting content, they enable a more fair exchange of information. These projects and the broader technologies to enable decentralized content must be explored, developed, promoted, and become the next “big thing”. Within this need, there is much to be determined, just a few quick thoughts being:
- How do you fairly monetize content creators on decentralized platforms? (Think cryptocurrency as a big part of this solution.)
- How do you, in a decentralized model, eliminate content that should be removed, such as obscene and/or illegal content?
- How do you provide an economic incentive to all parties involved (content creators, sponsors, node operators, etc.)?
Support BTRIC as we tackle these problems
I am the Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of BTRIC, that’s short for Blockchain Technology Research Innovations Corporation. We are a non-profit organization that incubates, and then launches, businesses, and also provides advocacy, educational, and research services to promote decentralization and other emerging technologies. I love the future we are creating and BTRIC’s role in making promising projects into great businesses that are launched and separated from our organization.
BTRIC is focused on finding solutions to decentralized technologies, especially technologies that can scale and will support content creators spread their message without being under the effective control of large corporate interests. Through our BTRIC Labs program, we are exploring the technologies and will work with projects to overcome issues of scalability. Through our Innovations Incubator program we will identify and work with promising projects to make them into investment-grade businesses, and then support their launch.
Right now, we’re conducting our launch fundraiser, and we need your support. Now through March 31, contributors to BTRIC receive BTRIC Founding Donor (yes, BFD) Tokens. Holders of these tokens receive benefits from BTRIC for life, including recognition as a forward-thinking leader as well as benefits from each project that completes our Innovations Incubator program. This is a perfect opportunity for people and businesses in our field or those that see the promise of these technologies to support an organization that is focused on bringing positive benefits to the entire ecosystem. I encourage you to check out our website, white paper and get involved in our BFD fundraiser. Contributions to BTRIC are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Consult your tax advisor for more information.
I hope you will support BTRIC as we work to create a more fair environment for content creators on the Internet and accomplish all of our other objectives, which I will write more about in the coming days (but you can take a peek at our website and/or white paper to see what we’re about). Together we can make a real difference in ensuring that the flow of information escapes the “gatekeepers” that have traditionally exerted control to their benefit and our detriment.
Terri Lei Beideman is the Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of Blockchain Technology Research Innovations Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization that is devoted to fostering emerging technologies, through business incubation and other initiatives, that decentralize the control structures that have entrenched global systems for centuries. BTRIC is proud to have earned GuideStar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency — their highest level of recognition. Contributions to BTRIC may be tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Contact your tax advisor for more information. Visit BTRIC’s website at https://www.btric.org. Terri can be reached on LinkedIn and by email.