Twitter Might Create an Open Standard for Social Media

Except silos will always silo

created Dec 12, 2019 - updated Dec 16, 2019

A cesspool silo might attempt to decentralize. ?!?! That sounds like an oxymoron: a silo creates an open standard.

It's easy to be cynical about this possibility.

Twitter is funding bluesky, an independent effort to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media, with the goal of Twitter being a client of it

Decentralizing Twitter won't solve its hate speech problems as it will only distribute them to others

That's the point, maybe. Blame others for Twitter's cesspool quality.

"Twitter funding a team to develop an open standard for social media ("

HN comment:

Isn't this called ActivityPub and hasn't this been working well for the last couple of years?

Another comment that's more realistic:

Props to Twitter for identifying a way to externalize the cost of civility while continuing to profit from the resulting cesspool that will ensue.

"Twitter to decentralize something ("

Manton created, which supports several concepts.

It's probable that none of the HN commenters read Manton's post. Manton wrote:

The first step should be to check out the IndieWeb. There are people who have been thinking about and working toward more open social networks for years.

One HN commenter said:

The IndieWeb ecosystem is already doing this with microformats2 + webmention to support decentralized replies, likes, reposts, etc. with HTML blogs. See for an example and and

More from Manton's post:

After a closer reading of Jack’s tweets, though, I think my first interpretation wasn’t quite right. Twitter isn’t necessarily interested in decentralizing content or even identity on their platform. Why would they be? Their business is based around having all your tweets in one place.

I prefer the IndieWeb's IndieAuth method for a login identity, instead of Twitter's system for logging into other apps/sites.

Manton and others have glummed onto this possible motive for what Dorsey suggested:

This “burden on people” is the resources it would take for Twitter to actively combat hate and abuse on their platform. Facebook, for example, has hired thousands of moderators. If Twitter is hoping to outsource curation to shared protocols, it should be in addition to — not a replacement for — the type of effort that Facebook is undertaking. I’ve outlined a better approach in my posts on open gardens and 4 parts to fixing social networks, which don’t seem compatible with Twitter’s current business.

So, what about Mastodon? It does everything, right? I'm sure, but Twitter is where the people are and that's what matters. This happens all the time in tech, people think the solution is to rebuild something from scratch with the feature we wish the default platform would have. It isn't about the feature as much as where the feature is. I have a blogging system that's way more fun that Twitter and has none of its limits. BFD, the people use Twitter.

It appears that DW does not understand Mastodon. I would say it's more about the protocol ActivityPub. That should have been DW's focus.

And more people use the open internet (web and email) than use Twitter. Anything proposed by Twitter will be done to benefit Twitter and not the open internet.

DW likes to have his identity system tied to Twitter. That ain't me. I prefer to use IndieAuth, which means that my online identity is and not an account with a silo.

A lot of people use Gmail, but I prefer to make Fastmail my main email system. And if I desire, I could host my own email server. Different email systems can communicate with each because they use an open standard. At the moment, I can still communicate with users who prefer Gmail. That might change if Google can co-opt email for profit.

14:22 [KevinMarks]

14:22 @jack Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard. (

14:25 [grantcodes] whoa that would be huge if it actually happens

14:33 [KevinMarks] Depends who they hire

14:47 aaronpk Huh

14:47 aaronpk do they not know about existing efforts?

14:48 [grantcodes] He explicitly states he would rather use something that already exists in the thread

14:48 [davidmead] They’ll put their best people on it

15:17 [manton] Let me be the first one to point out that Jack mentions blockchain in that Twitter thread.

15:18 aaronpk Like as a possible protocol for them?

15:19 [manton] Effectively starting over instead of running with what the IndieWeb has worked for, or even what has come out of Mastodon... I'm a little frustrated by this.

I read somewhere that Jack Dorsey is a fanatic about blockchain.

15:19 [manton]

15:19 @jack Finally, new technologies have emerged to make a decentralized approach more viable. Blockchain points to a series of decentralized solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization. Much work to be done, but the fundamentals are there. (

15:20 aaronpk

15:20 @paraga The ideal candidate is someone who is hands-on technically, curious across disciplines, has experience working in the open on the blockchain, an opinionated vision for this effort, and is thrilled by the idea of shaping the future of social media. (

Dorsey's love of blockchain probably eliminates the IndieWeb ideas and the ActivityPub protocol for consideration. What about IPFS?

IPFS lets you address large amounts of data and place the immutable, permanent links into blockchain transactions. This timestamps and secures content without having to put the data itself on the chain.

IPFS might not be blockchainy enough for Dorsey.

And I assume that the DAT protocol and Scuttlebutt are not worthy of consideration by Twitter.

More from that IndieWeb chat log:

15:24 [snarfed] funny. facebook actually had somewhat similar ideas and put some significant effort into prototyping a blockchain alternative for propagating their core structured data - friend graph posts, responses etc. got it up to 50kqps writes, but their total write volume is like 3-4 orders of magnitude higher, so they gave up on it. not sure that ever got much press.

15:27 [snarfed] er, sorry, FB total write volume is 2-3 orders of magnitude higher, not 3-4. still though.

Good comment:

16:00 chrisaldrich As a diverse group of standards builders and users who stand behind /plurality, should we collectively draft a response to light the way? After all we've got hundreds of engineers, lots of real world examples, dozens+ CMSes, W3C recommendations, and almost a decade of real-world use. The standard already exists, they could put their 5 engineers to just building their blue sky this week?

16:01 chrisaldrich There's pretty good evidence that 5 people hired by a single dominant corporate player are not going to make a "standard".

16:13 chrisaldrich Given the playing field and reading into his Twitter thread, we might deduct that Jack is conceding that he can't beat Facebook, Inc. in the users game and with potential government deregulation, why don't we decentralize to take away Facebook's power which could allow them to double down on the algorithms portion at which they've got some reasonable advance runway to try to win the market that way. Or alternately "social has been commoditized"

16:28 [schmarty] manton: victims of abuse on silos like twitter also have too great of a burden but that seems to be because the silos don't offer better tools to victims of abuse.

16:30 jacky they won't lean on a open spec - it'll be some pseudo in house thing that's "opened" up

This is a good point too:

16:30 [schmarty] ironically i feel like centralized systems have the most power when it comes to stopping abuse. decentralized or distributed systems are likely to end up with more work for victims.