Tips for Musk: How to build a decentralized version of Twitter?

Musk won.

On April 25, Twitter and Musk reached a definitive agreement to acquire an entity wholly owned by Musk for $54.20 per share in cash, with a total transaction value of approximately $44 billion, and Twitter will become a privately held company after completion. Of course, the acquisition, while approved by Twitter’s board, is subject to shareholder and applicable regulatory approvals, as well as other customary closing conditions.

In short, Twitter has been included in Musk’s pocket. According to his previous commitment, it will open source its algorithm, solve the problem of fraudulent robots, add editing functions, strictly abide by freedom of speech and other reforms. One question is: how to create a “decentralized social media”.

Just as Bitcoin coined freedom, we can actually use a similar infrastructure to run social media applications! Technically, at least a proof-of-concept is possible. In fact, as early as 2014, Casey Kuhlman, Tyler Jackson and I proposed a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) called “Eris”, which can basically be seen as a “distributed version of Reddit” that can Running on the blockchain backend (Ethereum POC 3 to be precise), as shown in the following diagram:


If you look closely, there is a “My DAO” button in the upper right corner, and the idea of ​​DAO made many people feel crazy at the time.

While the prototype came to nothing in 2014, the crypto market was so immature at the time that it was almost impossible to tell the difference between a smart contract and a “pop pie” (just kidding), what did people think of “DAO” as a topic of Confucian discussion , and now the situation is completely different. Given my experience in the bitcoin/blockchain space, and considering a lot of VC funding roaming around the space right now, I really wanted to build a product with a $20 million pre-seed round. However, after one startup, I’ve vowed to never try to develop or sell software, so I’ll just stick to my law firm. (Chain Catcher Note: Preston Bybne is a partner at Anderson Kill, a well-known law firm)

Let’s be honest, it’s definitely easier to design a prototype than to design something that people actually want to use. Even in the simpler “Web 2” technology world, there are thousands of social media applications, but only a handful have ultimately been successful. Creating a social media app is easy, but running a successful social media business is incredibly difficult.

Frankly, there have been attempts to build “decentralized social media” before, but it doesn’t seem to work very well. The most successful attempt to date may be the free open source social networking program Mastodon, although it is not perfect, with individual instances of which do not scale well (as in the social media Truth Social that Donald Trump tried to build, in their imitation of Mastodon in an attempt to go Shortcut became a social media star and discovered that Mastodon’s backend couldn’t handle their traffic).

For the same reason, if you want to store everything in clear text like Bitclout does, and dump every communication to the blockchain, it’s not that hard, but here’s the thing – scalability suffers. Facebook doesn’t need to agree on global state, and they also delete data (Facebook generates over 4 petabytes of data per day, by the way). Any social media system (like Bitclout) that tries to imitate Bitcoin can’t put data on-chain, or it will end up being stored on a small number of nodes running in a data center (much like Ethereum, no? ?).

So, what are the issues that need to be paid attention to in building a “decentralized Twitter”?

illegal content

The first is the legal question.

It turns out that social media companies are bound to be bound by a set of regulations, such as data privacy laws, and others (some are uniform in the U.S., but some laws vary by country) that apply to Destruction and reporting of illegal content in the United States, copyright issues, data protection, and mandatory disclosure of subscriber records. All of these factors need to be considered in the design of any “decentralized” social media application.

Lawyers have long cited the issue of illegal content as a major barrier to adoption of decentralized storage solutions.

In the U.S. and around the world, the most ubiquitous illegal content is what law enforcement calls child sexual abuse content (CSAM), and knowingly hosting such content carries severe penalties, such as hefty fines and lengthy prison terms, and the crypto industry has scrutinized this long-standing Responses to Internet problems seem to have gone unheeded, and some even ignored them altogether. In contrast, Web2 applications that host user-generated content, such as Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook, take a very proactive approach to such illegal content.

Both centralized service providers and blockchain node operators are considered “providers” (a term meaning “electronic communications service provider”) by U.S. federal law and are required by law to destroy illegal content . Facebook and other companies use a variety of software, including Microsoft’s PhotoDNA, to automatically detect, remove, and report illegal content.

But as far as I know, many blockchain based services like StorJ or Sia have no such controls (or only very limited ones) which allow storing encrypted data without creating user records, There is also no need for the service provider (in this case the node operator) to be able to determine the stored data or assess the legality of the stored data.

It is very likely (indeed very likely) that decentralized data storage services are currently being used to host illegal content, of course, without the knowledge of the node operators hosting these services. However, for “decentralized social media” applications, such “blindness” is not allowed, so when designing decentralized social media, it is necessary to ensure that law-abiding users can participate in the network, and that the content does not violate local law. But so far, there doesn’t seem to be any blockchain solution with a storage component trying to solve this problem, so if Musk wants to build a decentralized Twitter, it must be solved by design, otherwise no one will go A centralized social media service runs a node.

intellectual property

Likewise, the intellectual property system is not well suited to be used in a decentralized manner.

Social media node operators will act as “content service providers” and thus “provide an entity that transmits, routes or provides connectivity for digital online communications … user-selected material without modifying the content of the material sent or received. ”, especially in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which states that these social media node operators must consider:

(a) registration with the Copyright Office is necessary to be protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act;

(b) Carefully handle hosted material that may give rise to claims of copyright infringement

At the very least, addressing this issue will likely require DMCA notice and takedown protections for any third-party content hosted on the node (which would involve making their own comments to the Copyright Office if the node operator wants to make a profit) ).

To make matters worse, we may see some “copyright trolls” seize the copyright loopholes of social media node operators and then sue them for profit, because if they are copyright sued, they will probably end up losing money – which is also some The most common thing vexatious copyright enforcement law firms do.

Currently, it is difficult to speculate on what kind of infringement and enforcement might be encountered in decentralized social media. However, from what we’ve seen in Web 2, once the “copyright trolls” are profitable, something similar is bound to emerge in the Web3 space.

Data Protection and Disclosure

Another issue arises when a person participating in a decentralized network may acquire large amounts of user data in the process of operating his or her nodes – data protection and disclosure.

For example, in a decentralized social media system, the network would allow users to download user profiles and posts. Assuming I follow @A16Z and @marmotrecovery follows me, @A16Z will be allowed to download and store my messages and posts, as well as those of everyone who follows me, including @marmotrecovery. Judging by @A16Z’s sheer number of users (half a million), it’s safe to say that if A16Z is running a node on this hypothetical network, then they may be a “service provider” under the California Consumer Privacy Act or other local laws. business” and may need to implement a compliance program.

For the same reason, node operators may also become “electronic communications service providers” under the U.S. Stored Communications Act (18 USC § 2701 et seq.) and may therefore be required to turn over records on their computers to the government without Governments are authorized first — at least to the extent that these records relate to third parties owned and controlled by node operators, but users are unlikely to want to run a network that would lead to intrusions into their personal lives. So, decentralized social media needs to be designed to keep as little third-party data as possible on nodes.

Finally — some rough conclusions about the design of future decentralized social media networks

It appears that decentralized Twitter is unlikely to use blockchain infrastructure.

Content removal and moderation will be one of the most important factors in the design of any decentralized social media system, and ironically, unfair content moderation in Web 2.0 is also one of the things that drove the creation of Web3 decentralized social media. At the very least, the centrality of content moderation to the social media user experience means simply dumping everything onto the blockchain, as Bitclout does.

On the other hand, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), founder of FTX, also believes that censorship is a major problem and expressed his hope to repair the “broken mode” of social media through blockchain technology. He believes that traditional social media platforms are a very Messy system, no interoperability between different platforms, like can’t see tweets on Facebook, Whatsapp can’t read Facebook messages, even products of the same company. SBF proposes that different social media platforms can extract information from the same underlying data and conduct independent review. Doing this to help solve the problems plaguing social media while creating a level playing field.

However, the first truly successful “decentralized social media” systems would not attempt to be a world computer that could sing and dance, but would have participants replicate the absolute minimum viable information needed for the network to function. When using a social network, perhaps the only thing social networks care about is whether a particular content is published by a particular person, as for the “blockchain” part, if any, it should boil down to providing a registration with a username and associated public key, and that’s it .

For the most part, the first successful decentralized social media services are likely to limit the types of data hosted by users to plain text.

First, hosting only text written by users and possibly a select group of followers is a low liability claim from a criminal, copyright and data protection law perspective. Of course, hosted text would also be easier on bandwidth and easier for P2P transfers.

Second, for the hosting of videos and images, simply because of the large amount of data involved if there is no other reason, it is actually handled through “outsourcing”. At this stage, although many third-party platforms (Bitchute, Cozy, Odysee) have lax content review policies for video content, this can at least be “exempt”, and then solve the market gap currently served by YouTube and other institutions, and exempt node operations Responsibility for regulation of that content (especially copyright issues) – this is actually particularly useful.

To serve content, what a decentralized system needs to do is not to block external links to those services (blocking external links is a practice both Facebook and Twitter are involved in), but to allow users to whitelist third-party content providers by operating /blacklist to control what others can see. In this case, decentralized social media will be another source of referral traffic to external websites (links).

Of course, the above understanding may also be wrong.

However, the simpler answer to this question is more likely to be the correct answer, so – the “decentralized social media” of the future may be more like RSS than Ethereum.



Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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