Frank McCourt, a businessman and real estate billionaire, made another in his series of $100 million investments, this time into decentralizing social networks. The investment is into Project Liberty, a system meant to move details of social connections onto the blockchain, Bloomberg reports.
The investment addresses the growing power of certain social media companies, primarily Facebook. Such companies have a firm grasp on their data. The social connections that actually constitute the network accrue value as if they were property.
Companies use this to lock in users and collect private info. The data can be used for targeting ads or resold to other companies. Many see this as corporations spying on their users, and various forms of legislative action were already taken to restrict these practices.
Project Liberty takes a different approach. Instead of data being in some company’s storage servers, users would store social connections on a decentralized network of computers.
It’s a similar technology that many cryptocurrencies and NFTs use to ensure anyone can participate in the blockchain with no possibility of unauthorized data manipulation.
McCourt proposes a new Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) that would do the same for social network data.
The Benefits of Blockchain
Once connection data is on the blockchain, users can then transfer it between social networks that are based on the same blockchain technology. In other words, users can easily switch between social networks and retain data between transfers.
Another expected benefit is that the blockchain will drive more competition between companies. As there will be no more purpose in trying to lock in users through social connections, networks will have to make a better product to keep clients interested.
McCourt also says that users will benefit more from their personal info and that the blockchain will encourage better behavior by tying to their posts.
Admittedly, this last part might raise a few eyebrows in the privacy community.
Past blockchain data is immutable, meaning users can only add new data but not erase past data points. It is unclear precisely what kind of data DSNP will store, but it might make it impossible to get rid of one’s digital footprint.
It’s hardly comfortable for anyone to imagine their most embarrassing posts being available forever. It remains to be seen how Project Liberty will go about ensuring user privacy.
For now, the responsibility for making it all happen goes to Braxton Woodham, the CTO behind several popular software products.
Out of the $100 million invested, $75 million will reportedly go towards building the DSNP, while $25 million will be spent on attracting new entrepreneurs to base their networks on the protocol.
Some good news for the tech lovers out there is that the DSNP was made open-source. Anyone who wants to be a part of it can read the white paper on ProjectLiberty.io and contribute to the LibertyDSNP GitHub repositories.
Those who want to build applications powered by the blockchain tools can already do so as well.