Former Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said from Twitter, “they drove a clown car into a gold mine” — a jab at the company’s history of chaotic management and unpredictable decision-making. Today, however, it feels like Zuck is driving a clown car through his empty metaverse as Twitter takes the lead in the next era of social media.
On Tuesday, a Twitter-backed crypto-Skunk-Works team called Bluesky launched a website for a decentralized social media project it calls the AT protocol (aka “@”) and announced a waitlist for a Bluesky app that users can use with . The idea behind this is to reinvent social media so that it isn’t based on silos but allows users to communicate across different platforms – imagine a world where you could use Instagram to send messages or photos to friends send snapchat.
The idea of using blockchain to reimagine social media as decentralized media has been brewing for a while. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said in 2019 his goal was for the company to one day become a customer of the decentralized standard, and in 2021 a startup called DeSo (for decentralized social) raised $200 million. This summer, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried told me he sees social media as one of three killer apps for blockchain in the near term.
It will, of course, be a tall order for something like Bluesky to seriously challenge Zuckerberg’s billion-user Facebook-Instagram-WhatsApp empire. With the growing frustration of both politicians and users over the control that companies like Meta and Google exercise over our lives, it seems the time has come for such a challenge. Few predicted how social media would challenge traditional media until they ate their lunch. Changes in the tech world often happen suddenly.
There’s also the question of whether Twitter is actually going through with Dorsey, who left the company last year, to push for decentralization. Thanks to Elon Musk’s takeover bid, Twitter management is even more restless than usual, and it’s unclear who will take the reins next and share Dorsey’s vision. But even amidst the chaos, it feels like Twitter and Bluesky are closer to redefining social media than Mark Zuckerberg, with his tightly controlled Metaverse — one that even his own executives call “sad” and “empty.” have described.
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