Billionaire Frank McCourt is building a Facebook alternative


The lesson from the Facebook era could be that social networks are too central to modern life to be monopolized by a very for-profit company. Perhaps social networks are more like bridges or water supplies that are best controlled by the public.

This is the opinion of Frank McCourt, the real estate billionaire and former LA Dodgers owner, who is now turning his attention – and wallet – to moving the development of the Internet beyond the excesses and flaws of Web 2.0.

“If you look at how the Internet has developed with Web 2.0, you have these massive data structures that are built by all of us behind proprietary housings: the global search index on Google, the global product index on Amazon, the global social” graphic on Facebook, ”says McCourt, zooming into a car from behind as it drives through the streets of New York City. “The idea is that these large data structures that were created by the public shouldn’t belong to anyone; they should be public. “

To get things going, McCourt suggests building a new “bourgeois architecture” that uses the blockchain as the basic technology (a “gift to humanity,” as he calls it). Data about social interactions – basically everything we do in digital communities – would live on the blockchain and be controlled by individuals rather than internet companies, says McCourt. Blockchain uses an immutable ledger that is distributed over a large network of computers to keep track of transactions and is the fundamental technology underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The first building block of this new architecture is the so-called Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP), with which developers can create social apps and services. Instead of adding value by hoarding personal data, social apps would compete based on the value of the service they provide to users. Users could allow certain apps to access their personal data, but they could revoke this permission at any time and switch to another app.

Social protocol is just the beginning, says McCourt. “We are trying to create a hub for this next generation of the public internet, which is a fragmented civilian infrastructure.” There may be other protocols created for other aspects of digital life.

McCourt’s social protocol is reminiscent of a project running on Twitter, the only major social network working towards developing an alternative, distributed model. The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, set up an internal working group called “blue sky“To develop a new protocol for social networks and to further explore the possibilities of decentralized social networks. In January, Dorsey tweeted, “The reason I have so much passion for Bitcoin is mainly because of the model it demonstrates: a basic Internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single person or entity. This is how the Internet wants to be, and it will get more of it over time. ”In August, Twitter hired a crypto developer named Jay Graber to lead the initiative.

McCourt’s Decentralized Social Networking Protocol is only the technical part of his three-part vision, collectively known as Project Liberty. He also has a governance organization with partners from Georgetown University and Sciences Po in Paris called the McCourt Institute, which will develop an ethical framework for content moderation. McCourt invested $ 75 million in the McCourt Institute; He donated $ 100 million to start the McCourt School of Public Policy in Georgetown, then doubled the same amount in March. Eventually, a “move” part will focus on convincing people to migrate to these more bourgeois applications.

McCourt says all three legs are crucial. “In my opinion, a technology solution without movement and without mass migration will not be a game changer – the established companies are simply too big and powerful,” he tells me. “And without the values ​​that are embedded in the ethical questions. . . I think we run the risk of repeating past mistakes. “

Part of the movement he is trying to build is an annual conference in New York City entitled “Unfinished“Where McCourt’s various organizations and partners – including the Aspen Institute and the Ford Foundation – come together to discuss all aspects of Project Liberty. 50 to 60 developers will talk about the first projects that will be created with the DSNP. The two-day event begins today.

The conference takes place when Facebook is looking for a damn. is again embroiled in controversy Wall Street Journal series This showed that Facebook did little to heed its own researchers’ warnings regarding misinformation, the mental health of its users, and more.

Meanwhile, Washington regulators on both sides of the aisle are hungrier and hungry to contain big tech. The Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, chaired by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), continues to hold hearings and propose bills to revise antitrust laws to re-equip and empower the Federal Trade Commission to reopen lawsuits against big-tech monopolists. The FTC, led by antitrust arson Lina Khan, already has an active one Cartel case against Facebook and investigates Amazon’s marketplace. The Justice Department has antitrust proceedings against Google and three different groups of states have filed lawsuits against the advertising giant for anti-competitive practices.

McCourt, however, doubts that regulation alone can create a fairer Internet.

“Project Liberty is a campaign with an idea to solve this problem that is not based on controlling and stifling innovation,” he says. “We think technology is a big part of the problem, but we firmly believe that technology has to be part of the solution.”

If the name of McCourt’s movement, Project Liberty, sounds a little great, there is a reason.

“We take the example of the founding of this country; This country was founded by people who immigrated from another country, ”says McCourt. “They didn’t like the way things were going [in England]. It was a monarchy, it was a feudal system, and they literally got on boats and emigrated. “

“We’re talking about a migration from another feudal system to a new community that can be built with democratic values, not this weird process of literally stealing people’s data and using them in ways that are really, really not constructive is. “for society.”

Source link


About Author

Leave A Reply