Frank McCourt, a billionaire real estate mogul and former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is backing a new effort for a decentralized social media project based on blockchain technology.
McCourt is investing $100 million into an attempt to reinvent the foundations of social media by building a publicly accessible database of people’s social connections on a blockchain, Bloomberg reported Sunday.
“Project Liberty” aims to allow users to move records of their interactions between social media services instead of being locked into a few dominant applications. The project would use blockchain technology to construct a new internet infrastructure called the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP). The DSNP would keep user records and connections in a similar way to how a blockchain stores data regarding cryptocurrency transactions.
This decentralized approach has the potential to undermine the power of content moderation by allowing users who are kicked out of one platform to simply move their audiences to more permissive ones. The platform could also discourage bad behavior because people would be tied to their posts forever, as blockchain data is immutable, the report notes.
In order to build the DSNP, McCourt hired Braxton Woodham, the co-founder of the meal delivery service Sun Basket and former chief technology officer at the movie ticket website Fandango. The billionaire businessman pledged to put $75 million into an institute at Georgetown University in Washington, and Sciences Po in Paris for technology research, while the remaining $25 million will be channeled into pushing entrepreneurs to build DSNP-based services.
McCourt said that the platform could address the current distribution of power in social media:
“We live under constant surveillance, and what’s happening with this massive accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few, that’s incredibly destabilizing. It threatens capitalism because capitalism needs to have some form of fairness in it in order to survive.”
Since the inception of blockchain technology, a number of projects and companies have used distributed ledger technology in social media. Earlier in June, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey disclosed plans to integrate Bitcoin’s Lightning Network sidechain into Twitter or its decentralized social network BlueSky.
As previously reported, the EOSIO-based social media project Voice went live last year. Previously, a Yale professor and a Goldman Sachs veteran were planning to design a blockchain-based Facebook rival called Revolution Populi.