Social media has become a part of our culture, with many arguing that its influence has become an undeniable truth in our society. One wrong post on a social platform can destroy a person’s whole carrier and life.
However, some people believe that the data gathered on social media platforms when monopolized by the large tech giants is in itself a fact to be scared of. As the data can very well be used to track down the entire existence of a user, it’s a scary thing to imagine it being in the possession of a third party.
According to sources, Frank McCourt, a billionaire real estate mogul and former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has decided to invest $100 million to rebuild the foundations of social media. The term he used for this foundation is Project Liberty, and it 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.
“I never thought I would be questioning the security of our underlying systems, namely democracy and capitalism. 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 destabilizing. It threatens capitalism because capitalism needs to have some form of fairness in it to survive.”
However, he is not the only one to come up with such a fear, many are trying to reform social media by passing new laws or regulations, waiting for the next generation of startups to disrupt the incumbents. Some are even pressuring Facebook to look inward and revise its business model. Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey states that the solution to this problem may be blockchain, the technology underpinning bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain is used by Project Liberty, to construct a new internet infrastructure called the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol. We already know that Facebook owns the data about the social connections between its users, which gives the company an advantage over its competitors. However, if the data was made accessible to the public then the companies would have to compete by offering better services, and the chance of any single company becoming so dominant would plummet.
The DSNP will be built by Braxton Woodham, the co-founder of the meal delivery service Sun Basket and former chief technology officer of Fandango, the movie ticket website. According to sources, McCourt hired Woodham to build the protocol and pledged to put $75 million into an institute at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and Sciences Po in Paris. They will be researching the technology for future implementation.
This is McCourt’s third attempt to fix social media, after previously investing in tech companies he thought would help transform the way people interact online. He was convinced that if the entrepreneurs are supported by academic thinkers then they will be able to better explore the industry’s biggest ethical questions.