Dear Elon, This Is How to Decentralize Twitter and Give the Internet Back to Everyone

Dear Elon,

Congratulations on purchasing Twitter! We have been watching the process unfold with enthusiasm because of all the times you mentioned the importance of decentralization. It seems that you and your team have a vision of using this great platform as a tool to start a more mature and sovereign network.

With the right design, decentralizing Twitter would spur a new kind of internet – a radical change in the relationship between users and platforms. People can own the data they create through apps across the web.

David Sneider is the co-founder of Lit Protocol, a decentralized crypto network.

A look at Twitter (TWTR) product lines such as profiles, posts, messaging system, and advertising can provide insight into what the self-dominant web looks like and how to engage with people.

Vision

As we can tell from your texts With former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, you seem to think that Twitter today is just as good as it can provide. To become more useful to users and to develop further as a “protocol” and not as a company, we can learn a lot from email.

Email is a protocol. Maybe you use Microsoft Office, maybe Dorsey uses Proton and I use Gmail. We can all easily send messages to each other and be on the same thread, but see and write our emails via different application interfaces (eg Outlook and Gmail).

See also: Why decentralized web development can’t be stopped | Opinion

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This model can be extended to social media using platforms such as Filecoin, Arweave, Ceramic, and Polybase. User communications and posts will not be confined to a single “walled garden” such as Twitter or Facebook, but will be directly on the open web. This data can be kept private and authorized (and thus monetized) via cryptographically backed access control (like what Lit builds).

In decentralized, sovereign, user-centric social media protocols that focus on privacy, users will have the ability to consent to applications and communications that can see their content across interface platforms just like email.

on aboard of the plane

One of the biggest hurdles with Web3 is the wallet user experience. For some people, self-custody of the keys is a privilege, but for many it is a burden. As a result, in the past year, there has been a significant increase in interest in Multilateral Computing (MPC).

MPC wallets enable users to log into applications using traditional login, PIN and biometrics with their wallets without the burden of self-guarding or having to rely on a central key holder custodian.

General user data

For parts of general social graphs, like Twitter today, there are already a number of active projects that have created open source infrastructure to help people own their data. Lens Protocol and Orbis, for example, are now up and running.

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private user data

Of course, not all social data is public. Basic components of social networks and media, such as a person’s communications, profile information, posts, and messages, are often private, meaning they are only viewable to authorized people. Or, at least, it would be better to have that option.

Today, on Twitter, this data is largely locked inside the Twitter and Facebook servers. The alternative is to store this encrypted data on the open web and give the user precise control over who can decrypt it.

This is not a new idea in online social networks, this system is in sync with the early days of the web and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption software is still used by many. (PGP allows people to publish their public key anywhere, to receive messages that only the owner of the private key can read.)

Threshold encryption advances these privacy standards by allowing users to create rules about who can see their posts. And if decentralized social protocols are widely adopted, this encrypted data can then be used over the “open web”.

For example, Alice might create a post that says “Anyone in my friends list can see this post.” Bob, Alice’s friend, can decrypt this post on any platform by proving his identity via a signature from his wallet.

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Advertising

Advertising is often considered a bad topic in some Web3 circles, but the truth is that only about 10% of internet users pay for premium apps and software. This means that most people use software services with advertisements.

The “conversion” of a purchase is largely tracked via the last click referral where the publisher (eg Twitter) has some software running on their page that signals to advertisers (eg e-commerce store) that the user has clicked on AD. When that person makes a purchase, the publisher is compensated.

This too can be decentralized. The aforementioned system of user data can also be applied to ad referral. The ‘last click’ is written to a person’s data center (encrypted and stored on the open web) as verifiable credentials and then the advertiser can get permission to decrypt that data.

See also: decentralized ambiguity

As the world’s regulators continue to crack down on tracking cookies, bringing the user and their consent into the system to track ad clicks and conversions is a long-term path forward for ad-supported publishers.

Next steps

Decentralized networks to support global scale are still in their maturity stage, but there has never been a better time to start laying the foundation. If you are Elon Musk or another aspiring builder looking into the future of social networking and media, please get in touch!



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