Under new leader Parag Agrawal, Twitter eyes decentralized social media

By 03/03/2022
Under new leader Parag Agrawal, Twitter eyes decentralized social media

Since Jack Dorsey stepped down as Twitter CEO last November, the social media company has advanced its progress on an ambitious, forward-thinking project. Under CEO Parag Agrawal, and with Dorsey’s help, Twitter is lending its support to Bluesky, a decentralized protocol that would unite content from across the social web.

A recent New York Times article contains details about Bluesky, a Twitter-backed initiative that has been in the works since 2019 and added Dorsey as a board member last month. Essentially, the idea is to build a service that would let its users communicate with accounts on other social platforms. Bluesky could also aggregate content from across those platforms, rather than relying on a centralized Twitter algorithm to populate feeds. The venture is tied closely to blockchain and Web3 technology, and crypto developer Jay Graber signed on last August to lead it.

If you think that sounds like other social media aggregators, you’re not alone. Engineers at Reddit and Twitter have talked about the logistics of the project, according to the Times, but no deals have been arranged. The main difference between Bluesky and a platform like Reddit is that individual Bluesky users would have more freedom to develop their own tools and moderate their own communities. That could free Twitter from the burden of managing bad actors on its platform.


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Agrawal is bullish on decentralization, the Times reports, and the new Twitter chief has made it a priority to hire crypto developers. Promoting the blockchain allows Twitter to give its increasingly international community a common currency to work with; perhaps that’s why the company recently permitted paying users to upload NFTs as their profile pictures.

Of course, a project with this much ambition is always going to have a few roadblocks. The Times points to Twitter’s decision to restrict access to its API as a choice that rankled some developers. Now, it must find ways to win back the trust of those key figures.

Should the developers see the silver lining in Twitter’s Bluesky, they could work to create a novel social platform. Ideas that have been floated for the project include customizable content curation, algorithms that could filter out specific posts (like those containing TV spoilers), and portable social identities that could be moved from one service to another.

In other words: Twitter’s big idea is to be less like Twitter, and if you spend a lot of time scrolling your feed, you can imagine the benefits of that proposal.

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