Instead of depending on a single controlling company to get it exactly right, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey imagines a future where you can select what you see on social media by picking out your favourite recommendation algorithm.
Dorsey elaborated on his vision of how a distributed social network might function, and why Twitter would want to build a network that is beyond the reach of itself or any other business. Dorsey said Twitter would benefit from providing access to “a much larger conversation corpus” from which users can access relevant content. “It’s where we’re going to be competitive,” he said.
Dorsey said Twitter is “pleased to develop” functionality that will give individuals more options over what they see. Dorsey said on the call, “You can imagine an app-store-like view of ranking algorithms that gives people ultimate flexibility in terms of” what posts are placed in front of them.
For individuals to choose from, Twitter could both create their own ranking algorithms and offer a “marketplace where individuals can choose various options. That’s something we can not only host but in which we can participate,” he said. “Giving people more options will “not only help business but first and foremost drive more people to engage in social media,” he said.
Dorsey also sees decentralisation as a way to “address some of the issues” regarding Section 230, the law that gives platforms protection from user-created content. For some lawmakers, the law has recently become a common aim, and a decentralised network might give Twitter a way to prevent problems if tougher rules were to be imposed in place, whether those rules require more moderation or for Twitter to apply a more neutral approach to what content is surfaced.
Decentralised social networks already exist, although none has had great success (remember Mastodon?). Twitter said the Bluesky team might want to work with an established decentralised system, or if the team feels that’s the best option, they may end up creating a new one.