In late 2019, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced that his company had formed a small independent group of developers and tasked them with one goal: to create a decentralized social media protocol that could serve as the basis for a new standard for online social networking. connectivity, free from corporate and governmental influence.
Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open-source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open, decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to eventually be a client of this standard. 🧵
Three years later, and after Dorsey’s departure from Twitter, this team has come out of relative silence to announce that they believe they have achieved their goal.
On Tuesday, the Bluesky Initiative launched a website for its decentralized social media protocol, which it calls The AT protocol. He also opened a waiting list for the Bluesky app, which the team considers the ideal “browser” to access the AT Protocol network. Waiting list quickly filledrequiring the intervention of a third party.
Bluesky builds a social protocol. We released “ADX” (the X stands for Experiment) in May. Now that the design is starting to solidify, we’re renaming it to “Authenticated Transport Protocol” – the “AT Protocol”. https://t.co/Q0XUF8OhVD
“Since May, we’ve been doing protocol work in a public repository on GitHub, but we’ve mostly been quiet on our blog and Twitter,” the Bluesky team wrote today in a blog post. “That’s starting to change.”
The AT protocol, as a decentralized network, operates independently of the control of a single company. This independence, according to Bluesky, will allow users of social networks built on the protocol to protect their private data and avoid corporate algorithms that often promote controversy to keep users hooked.
“Algorithms dictate what we see and who we can reach,” the Bluesky team wrote today. “We must have control of our algorithms if we are to trust our online spaces.”
Fostering interoperability, or mutual compatibility of different platforms on the same protocol, is also key to Blueky’s mission. Imagine TikTok working on Instagram, for example, and vice versa. The team has developed an interoperational framework called Lexicon that will facilitate connectivity between different applications and networks built on the AT protocol.
“The world needs a diverse market for connected services to ensure healthy competition,” said the Bluesky team. “Interoperability should feel like second nature on the web.”
When Dorsey—who bliss the Bluesky team today on their “founding” achievement despite no longer being affiliated with the project – first considered the potential of the group, he said “the goal is for Twitter to eventually be a customer of this standard”.
In the meantime, Twitter ownership has endured a tumultuous saga; for months the company fought with Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk over Musk, then disowned, then re-proposed offer to buy the social media platform and privatize it.
Last month, court documents produced from Twitter’s ongoing lawsuit against Musk over the acquisition revealed that Dorsey had exchanged texts with Musk in which he pressured the world’s richest man to operate Twitter as an “open source, foundation-funded protocol”.
In these text messages, Dorsey made his point – the same case as when announcing the creation of Bluesky – about the dangers inherent in operating a social media platform on a model based on profit.
“He can’t have an ad model,” Dorsey wrote to Musk. This would give governments and corporations an access point to control the speech, Dorsey explained. “If he has a centralized entity behind [it]he will be attacked.
The debut of the AT Protocol comes at a time when political polarization, among other factors, has led to the splintering and criticism of social media platforms like Twitter and their policies. On Monday, controversial musician and public figure Kanye “Ye” West agreed in principle to acquire right-wing social media company Parlerdays after the artist was suspended from Instagram and Twitter for making anti-Semitic comments.
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