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Jack Dorsey wants a decentralised Twitter – Naked Security


Security Watch

Jack Dorsey wants a decentralised Twitter – Naked Security

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has announced a research effort to explore a decentralised version of the microblogging platform.

The idea behind decentralisation is to create services that no single organisation controls, so that there’s no single point of failure and no one dictating the rules. That’s the antithesis of Twitter, which controls all its own infrastructure and gets to decide who uses the platform and what they can and can’t say on it.

Dorsey has realised that this whole decentralised internet thing is rather a good idea, and wants to get in on it, stat. On Wednesday he tweeted:

To this end, he has created a research team inside Twitter to scope out the challenge.

The thing is, there’s already a protocol for decentralized microblogging and publishing accepted and used by a large number of people. It’s called ActivityPub, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which governs the protocols underpinning the web, has turned it into a proposed standard. ActivityPub emerged from Pump.io, a software engine that supports federated messaging using a concept called activity streams.

One of the protocol’s users is a social networking service called Mastodon, which we’ve written about before. Rather than a single central site owned by a company, it’s a collection of independent servers running the underlying hosting software, called instances. Anyone can set up an instance as long as they have a suitable server to run it, and there are instances targeting a wide variety of interests from open-source software to German heavy metal bands.