Twitter plans to build ‘decentralized standard’ for social networks

Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey is funding research aimed at changing the way information circulates on social media — with the goal of combating online violence, hate and disinformation. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Twitter plans to build ‘decentralized standard’ for social networks

  • The system, or “standard,” would not be owned by any single private company, says Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
  • He said Twitter will fund the project, which will take many years to complete, but will not direct it

Twitter Inc. plans to set up an independent research group to create an “open and decentralized” system for social networks, CEO Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday, which could relieve pressure on the company to appease critics of its content policies but also give rise to a new crop of competitors.
The system, or “standard,” would not be owned by any single private company, Dorsey said, and would enable individuals to use a variety of services to access the same network, just like they choose different email providers to see the same messages.
Policing speech on social media sites has required hefty investments while still failing to stem criticism from users who find the policies either too aggressive or too lax.
“Centralized enforcement of global policy to address abuse and misleading information is unlikely to scale over the long-term without placing far too much burden on people,” Dorsey tweeted.
He said the new approach would also allow Twitter to “focus our efforts on building open recommendation algorithms which promote healthy conversation, and will force us to be far more innovative than in the past.”

The idea, as outlined in articles Dorsey shared, is that developers could use their own algorithms to offer like-minded individuals targeted access to the same social media networks.
For instance, an individual could sign up with a provider that would aggressively filter out racist material, or another that would promote conversations over other types of content.
The open standard, however, could upend Twitter’s business model in the process, giving rise to competitor services that offer filters, content suggestions or other tools that prove more popular with consumers.
In an article that Dorsey shared called “Protocols, Not Platforms,” tech news site Techdirt founder Mike Masnick outlined how an open standard could give rise to a “competition for business models” among developers.
Some providers might collect less user data for ads, while others might abandon advertising altogether, instead charging users for access to premium services like filters or data storage, Masnick wrote.
Dorsey said Twitter’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, will be in charge of hiring a lead for the research team, called BlueSky. Twitter will fund the project, which will take many years to complete, but will not direct it, he said.
He went on to suggest that blockchain technology might provide a model for decentralizing content hosting, oversight and even monetization of social media, without elaborating on possible alternatives to Twitter’s ads-driven business.


Cannes Lions answers big questions ahead of LIONS Live

Updated 21 September 2020

Cannes Lions answers big questions ahead of LIONS Live

Ahead of the return of LIONS Live from Oct 19-23, Cannes Lions partnered with WeTransfer to answer several questions put to its talent back in June 2020. The respondents include Quiet Storm’s Trevor Robinson, BBDO’s Josy Paul, Project Everyone’s Gail Gallie, Isobar’s Jean Lin, Google’s Lorraine Twohill, among others. Here are excerpts from the report:

What is the best form of activism? Can some activism set causes back, rather than bring progress?

Richard Curtis, writer, director, co-founder of Red Nose Day and UN Sustainable Development Goals advocate: All forms of activism play an important role in influencing and creating change. The most important thing is to strategize with everyone in mind. For example, if amazing change was happening at a political level, but nothing at all on a grassroots level, that wouldn’t create the best possible outcome. Activists might be doing their work with the best of intentions, but are not focused on collaboration. This may not necessarily set causes back, but is likely to be less effective and therefore hinder progress.


What will the creative approach look like post COVID-19?

Lorraine Twohill, chief marketing officer, Google: The elements that make really great work have always been the same and that will never change. Great work is great work. That being said, good creative work has always leaned on truth and shared experience and, right now, there is more of that than ever. Although everyone has experienced COVID-19 differently, we are living through a unique shared experience, which gives us more inspiration for powerful storytelling that resonates with people. In addition to that, COVID-19 has introduced so much chaos and new information into our lives, and people’s time is so valuable. I think that will lead to an increased focus on the messages that really matter in creative work. And, ultimately, to more human work.


As the market shifts toward e-commerce, what approach should be taken by the brands to design better consumer experiences in the new normal?

Jean Lin, global executive chairman, Isobar: The trends we’ve seen over the past few years will accelerate: from e-commerce, to Everywhere Commerce, to Total Commerce — every brand moment can become a moment to shop. You need technology to create experiences at scale, but you can’t underestimate how important creativity is in shaping customer experience in commerce. Brands should ask these key questions: How will my commerce offering make people’s lives better and easier — what problem does it solve? What will make my brand memorable and what do I want to be remembered for? What will ensure my product offering and brands resonate so people don’t get bored of my products?

It all comes down to bringing together the point of inspiration with the point of transaction. Use every brand moment as a shopping moment, but unleash creativity to avoid commoditization and mediocrity. Marketing conversations that focus too much on efficiency, and not on values and transformation, will have consequences and brands could suffer as we move to a new normal.

 
How should brands who are worried about putting out fake news navigate deep fakes? How do they do it safely?

Mike McGee, co-founder, Framestore: Advertisers and brands rely on building trust with their consumers and fans. Any mistakes and they are likely to be punished. In our clips, Boris and Donald were designed to be provocative, to start a conversation about their fidelity and likeness. But we didn’t use them to make any political statements, the content was designed to be amusing rather than a hoax.

 
What are you looking for when hiring creative talent? What stands out in a creative portfolio?

Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India: The truth is that you hire people, not portfolios. You are looking for difference, you’re looking for diversity. You’re looking for people who can bring you new influences and new backgrounds so that your work can be richer. And often a portfolio may not reflect that, because the portfolio tells you about the past. The person tells you about the future.