‘A Super Interesting Idea’—Is This Elon Musk’s Real, Radical Plan For Twitter?
Tesla billionaire Elon Musk has finally followed through with his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter
Former Twitter chief executive and cofounder Jack Dorsey in April endorsed Musk as Twitter’s owner, calling him “the singular solution I trust” to help Twitter “solve for the problem it being a company.”
This week, Dorsey’s new decentralized social network protocol Bluesky has begun accepting users for beta testing, hot on the heels of a slew of texts being made public via court documents that revealed Dorsey told Musk that Twitter “should have never been a company.”
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“[Twitter] can’t be a company … that was the original sin,” Dorsey told Musk in messages revealed as part of the legal battle between Musk and Twitter. Musk responded to Dorsey that transitioning Twitter from a company to a protocol was a “super interesting idea.”
“I think it’s worth both trying to move Twitter in a better direction and doing something new that’s decentralized,” Musk wrote to Dorsey.
Dorsey told Musk that Twitter should be “an open source protocol, funded by a foundation of sorts that doesn’t own the protocol, only advances it,” arguing Twitter “can’t have an advertising [business] model.”
Dorsey, who remained on the Twitter board until May this year after stepping down as Twitter CEO in 2021, has said Bluesky Social will be “a competitor to any company trying to own the underlying fundamentals for social media or the data of the people using it”—potentially making it a rival to the likes of Twitter, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, as well as Snapchat and TikTok.
“The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard,” Dorsey said in a Twitter thread in 2019, an idea that echos how email clients make use of SMTP, POP3, and IMAP protocols.
This week, Bluesky, a non-profit initiative owned by a development foundation, announced the roadmap of its decentralized social network protocol, called the AT protocol. However, despite both Dorsey’s and Musk’s support of cryptocurrencies bitcoin and dogecoin, the Bluesky protocol doesn’t use blockchain technology.
“I’m confident in our decision to not put social media content on a blockchain,” Bluesky CEO Jay Graber posted to Twitter this week. “It’s blockchain optional and blockchain agnostic. I personally wouldn’t build a system that backs up your posts on-chain.”
Bluesky wants to give control of data back to users rather than centralizing it within a company. Company control of vast swaths of user data has allowed social media giants to become some of the world’s most influential companies over the last decade and sparked fears they’re unable to responsibly wield such power.
The messages between Musk and his associates made public by court documents also show Musk floated plans to integrate the meme-based bitcoin rival dogecoin into Twitter. The dogecoin price has more than doubled over the last week as traders bet Musk could follow through with his dogecoin plans.
However, Musk has also said he’s interested in turning Twitter into a so-called “super app” similar to the China-based Wechat that incorporates payments, shopping, social media and messaging elements.
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