The CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter have once again been summoned to the US Congress, this time to convince lawmakers that they are “doing enough” to fight misinformation by moderating content on their platforms at a satisfactory level.
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, in addition to Birdwatch – a type of crowdsourced moderation that Twitter is already testing – mentions a largely obscure and by all accounts small project that his company is funding, called Bluesky.
When he first announced it in December 2019, Dorsey said a team of up to five independent open source developers, including engineers and designers, would be set up to create a new, open and decentralized standard for social media that would eventually render Twitter no more than one of its clients.
Dorsey spoke about his company’s plans to win users’ trust through transparency and fairness, but also positioned Bluesky as a tool to combat online “hate speech” and abuse, saying it could help smaller startups deal with those “more easily.”
Dorsey admits that this is a slow-moving project. It is often brought up in a pinch, almost as an excuse proving that something is being done to appease critics – the last time he did it was in a series of tweets he posted during the huge controversy caused by Twitter’s decision to ban a sitting US president.
At the time, he referred to it as the future standard for “the public conversation layer of the internet,” while in his latest Congressional testimony, he said it would take time to develop and called it “complex and unprecedented.”
In trying to grapple with what the Bluesky concept actually means, media reports have sometimes likened it to Bitcoin, thanks to decentralization being mentioned as a key component, suspecting that Dorsey and his peers might use it to offload responsibility for moderation decisions.
Others have said he was trying to reinvent the wheel, since similar protocols and social networks based on them already exist, suspecting the end game might be to give Twitter control over that ecosystem.