Is Decentralization Powerful Enough to Stop The Alt-Right Trolls?

Or are we trading one devil for another?

Is Decentralization Powerful Enough to Stop The Alt-Right Trolls?
Photo by Melany Rochester / Unsplash

Twitter is in a free fall now that Musk reinstated Trump’s account. The system is broken and the wheels have come off. I’m getting the strangest follow recommendations these days, ranging from Kyle Rittenhouse (yuk) to SpaceKaren Musk. This leads me to believe that people are deleting their shallow and deep data, which is a good thing in my opinion.

I’ve requested my deep data and will work on deleting it from Twitter too. Why? Because the data is what they want. Twitter was always a siloed data store. It was a publicly traded company that was regulated with decent systems in place to handle chaos. It was free for us to use but the way Twitter made money was from the tweets you shared. Your tweets were Twitter’s treasure.

They analyzed all the sentiment, all the words, and all the emojis you posted and packaged it up for advertisers to buy. In time news organizations saw Twitter as a way to build their brands and we all liked that. Twitter was my defacto breaking news place.

Coupled with a vetted blue check mark system, I knew that @CBSNews was CBS News and not CNSNews scammers. There was trust in the system, albeit fragile at times.

Despite its shortcomings, Twitter remains a siloed platform that managed the complexity of millions of users over the past 15+ years quite well. It did the best it could as conditions changed in the world.

So now that we’re all shitting all over it, myself included, what’s next?

De-siloing alternatives? Like Mastodon, Hubzilla, and Friendica?

There’s a whole decentralized world of fediverse platforms that claim to take the algorithms out, have no advertisers, and stay privacy-focused.

The decentralized world boasts of how you can build your server on whatever topics you like. Do you want it to be about transgender issues? Build it! Want to be strictly focused on photography? Knock yourself out.

On the surface, it sounds wonderful and the admin of that server has the power to ban, boot, and manage his or her small kingdom of fediverse denizens.

But what happens if an alt-right group starts its server and harasses people over the decentralized web? Who do we complain to then? Their admins don’t have to ban the offenders, they might even encourage worse behavior.

How do we combat that? DMCA takedowns? That’s one way but possibly a long process. Timing is critical and the damage to an individual or company can be irreparable when the barbarians crash the gate.

I’ve given pause to moving to the decentralized web because of this, plus moving to the decentralized web is not as simple as I originally had envisioned.

It’s downright confusing at times.

There is no organization, no central place to go to because that’s the core of its nature; it’s supposed to be self-organizing and decentralized.

People don’t know what Mastodon server to sign up for and wonder if it’s all a bait-and-switch scam.

The move from “Who cares about privacy, we’ll take care of you” to “Privacy first, but you can do whatever you want here” has bewildered a lot of people. The creature comforts we were used to on Twitter are not there on a Mastodon server.

There are no vetted blue checkmarks. Anyone can impersonate anyone else. That scares the shit out of me. This could be way worse than Twitter once the alt-right shitheads get a hold of this.

That’s why Twitter worked. It was one place, run by a publicly traded corporation, that was regulated because of the law. You knew that if @CBSNews tweeted about a big event, it had relevance and was truthful. The blue check mark meant something then.

There were legal ramifications and repercussions for slander, defamation, or illegal activities. One siloed platform had a responsibility to police itself, whether you liked it or not.

I’ll be honest, I feel stuck and conflicted. No easy answers are going forward and no clear direction.

It feels like we left the safety of the farm because the farmhouse burned down and are now lost in the dark forest. It’s a forest filled with wolves and I’m desperately trying to find a safe path out.

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