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Twitter Wants to Reinvent Itself, by Merging the Old With the New

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A decentralized Twitter could take years to emerge and might look much the same as it does today. But it could allow users to set moderation rules for their own communities and ease the pressure Twitter faces from lawmakers over how it moderates content.

Credit: Timo Lenzen

In 2008, the handful of employees working for Twitter reached an impasse. Some were focused on preparing for a surge of new users to their social media platform. But one developer argued for another approach: Their platform, he said, shouldn't be a platform at all.

Instead, Blaine Cook envisioned Twitter as a backbone for online chatter, one that would allow its users to freely exchange messages with people on other social media platforms instead of locking them into conversations among themselves. He hacked together a prototype to demonstrate his idea.

But the other Twitter employees dismissed it, and Mr. Cook was eventually pushed out of the start-up. Twitter remained a tightly controlled island on the internet and eventually drew in hundreds of millions of users.

Now, over a decade later, Twitter is reversing course. The company is pursuing the sort of decentralization Mr. Cook championed. It is funding an independent effort to build a so-called open protocol for social media. It is also weaving cryptocurrency into its app, and opening up to developers who want to build custom features for Twitter.


From The New York Times

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