I registered a Twitter business account recently and proceeded to link it to the website. After putting the site on all of the social platforms and connecting everything together, I started posting. A week later, I thought, “Oh shoot, I still need to update the profile info.” So I uploaded pictures, came up with a cool catchy bio, and entered the birthday as the date of company inception. The moment I hit yes, it locked me out of the account, saying, “only 13 and older allowed. Please submit a request for review to unlock by uploading a government-issued photo id to confirm identity.”
If I was under 13, I would create another email address and say that I’m 13. What is this actually helping? Does this ensure honest 12-year-olds don’t get access to the latest Trump or Kardashian tweets? This feels like it’s in place to protect Twitter, the business. It’s another ‘terms and conditions,’ a means of limiting liability if something bad were to happen involving a child. My personal annoyance for being locked out aside, there is something about ‘centralized’ social media that is a bit worrisome.
Global Means Global
With 195+ countries in the world, that makes a LOT of laws. With over 4,200 religions, that’s a lot of possible morals. That is the internet. There may be a lot of ‘facts,’ but not everyone agrees with everyone else’s facts. We could go with the most restrictive policies, but that doesn’t work because then we wouldn’t even use electricity or the internet. We could go with the most relaxed policies, but then we’d have complete debauchery.
Who is to choose which way is right? No one can choose because there will always be disagreements. This is why filtering is the answer, not censoring. True filtering cannot be done in a centralized construct; there are no laws that can cover these 195+ countries completely. The concept of filtering would be subject to laws in many countries, all of them different.
We normally like large centralized organizations because it provides a level of comfort and accountability. That comfort however comes with the risk of these organizations having massive power and complete control. Not only that, but even the most benevolent ‘global’ organization, is not always truly global in terms of what they promote or represent.
What if instead we could establish a method of accountability at a smaller level? Then, corrupt companies wouldn’t be able to stay in power any easier than corrupt individuals. This may sound impossible, but the fact is decentralization can push things back to lower levels of control and accountability.
Decentralized Constructs on the Internet
Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. are centralized constructs. They are controlled by a single organization or by a single governing body that sets rules for the masses. If it’s not Twitter’s rules, it’s laws of the company’s home or the rules of the country it is operating in.
However, the decentralized movement is slowly picking up steam. The idea is that we could all own a piece of the internet that we participate in. We can all own a piece of the social media sites since we are making the content ourselves. The idea is capitalism on steroids or mutated, allowing for even more to succeed and make our unique mark. In traditional capitalism, we have the 1% producing half of the wealth in the world. This is the exact problem socialist and communistic ideals are trying to battle. The problem is that those same ideals give up too many freedoms and assume ‘perfect’ social scenarios, while forcing those who are in the 1% to share, despite any efforts they made to get to where they are going.
Instead, we need to grow from the old way of thinking. Decentralized ideas, for example, would take a bit from the Googles, the Verizons, and the Amazons of the world and make it such that many more pockets of success exist. They would maximize our freedoms, while at the same time, reduce these large organizations’ control. It’s the equivalent of having a farm, a bank, and a local market in everyone’s backyard and in their own hands.
A few things in the tech industry have been interestingly apparent. We’ve gone back and forth between ‘centralized’ mainframes to ‘decentralized’ PCs, back to ‘centralized’ web environments, to ‘decentralized’ mobile devices, back again to ‘centralized’ cloud computing, and now we’re seeing more ‘decentralized’ constructs again.
As we evolve, the decentralized constructs get more integrated, more capable. A simple example is our mobile phones. We all have wireless devices with lots of capabilities. In a city, what is the point of having centralized services connecting them all when they could all connect to each other? There are a few reasons we can’t easily do this currently, but it is not at all outside of the realm of possibility.
The effects of that could be much more far-reaching than we realize. A billion-dollar industry could go back into the hands of the people naturally.
AI in the Room and UBI
With AI on the horizon (note: we disagree with Jeff Bezos, who says AI isn’t going to eventually take many of our jobs as we know them today), these decentralized concepts are going to become imperative. We should all have our own ways to make money and survive; the closer we can get to that both digitally and physically, the better.
This means we would not need to push for universal basic income (UBI). We need to put the freedoms into everyone’s hands. If we are given UBI, we are continuing to relinquish control to the governments and organizations that manage us. This may seem fine in the top countries, but it would be a nightmare for those countries that are less well-off economically or are more corrupt.
What better way to control a population? Once an organization controls our income, what else can they control? What freedoms are we relinquishing that we won’t realize until the wrong person or group of people takes power?
We also seem to assume that with no more traditional ‘jobs’, we cannot continue to make money. What the loss of traditional jobs should naturally do however, is change the economy such that we start to pay for different things. It’s already happening now, we are getting paid to record ourselves baking cookies, to rant about our own personal problems, to make funny videos. But currently that pay is still governed by centralized organizations.
Centralized Social Media
Centralized social media must fail because it is very similar to an organization controlling our money “on our behalf”. Our voices are now heard primarily through social media. While operating this business I have been blocked at times for unknown reasons on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. While it is most likely these blocks or account lock situations were done in error or have some special requirement, just the fact that it is that easy to silence a voice by the decision of a single organization or entity should not be acceptable.
Social media is amazing, so this has nothing to do with bashing social media. It’s all about getting the ideas out there so that we can develop the next iteration of decentralized controls to maximize freedoms everywhere.
Let’s try to maintain some level of control and influence individually, to move about freely without being tied to a government or organization to feed us and give us income, without allowing anyone to control our voices. We need to be aware and acknowledge the possibilities; it could save us (or our decedents) in the long run.