Crypto fans should get behind Elon Musk’s subscription model for Twitter.

Crypto fans should get behind Elon Musk’s subscription model for Twitter.

Like many others, I was initially skeptical about Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, given his historical penchant for bold promises but then backed down. Still, your idea of ​​adding a subscription tier to Twitter and using it to improve curation and move away from advertising is beneficial. If you believe in the core values ​​of cryptocurrencies, you must believe in them. To see why we need to look at the fundamentals of Bitcoin ($18,121 BTC). Most people focus on the coin, but the most remarkable thing about Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention was the platform’s design.

Before Bitcoin, the general belief was that an open (also known as permissionless) system, where participants are anonymous and free to come and go, could never be protected. Solutions such as Byzantine fault tolerance, the network equivalent of democracy, had solved the problem of participants reaching a consensus in a closed system but could not be applied to an open network because of the risk of one participant pretending to be many, also known as the Sybil Attack.

Sybil’s attacks threaten any democratic system, hence the need for restrictions such as voter registration or parliamentary appeals. They’re particularly annoying online, where it’s easy for one person to impersonate many people. Hence the proliferation of spam emails, fake reviews, and bot armies across the web. Social networks, as designed today, solve this problem like payment systems (like PayPal) did in the past: they establish authority and give it the power to censor some users to protect others. But this approach had its drawbacks, including unfairly editing some individuals and gaining significant benefits from the agency.

Twitter’s recent reliance on surveillance capitalism and its arbitrary (not to say unfair) blue tick resolution are good examples.

Bitcoin took a different approach. It allowed anyone to do anything, including participating in the consensus but required an upfront fee from those who did the most critical work. This was a positive form of self-censorship: anyone could be a miner, but they had to prove their honest intention by spending money. This Proof-of-Work (PoW) approach to building Sybil’s resiliency has been successful, at least for a payment system. The Bitcoin platform is paradoxically the most open and secure online platform.

It’s noteworthy that PoW was first developed in the 1990s to combat spam. Philosophically similar is Musk’s suggested Twitter subscription business model. The remainder of the network is more likely to trust users that pay a monthly charge since they are less likely to be bots or click farms, much like how bitcoin nodes differ from miners who make the most money.

Suppose Twitter’s algorithm also prioritizes comments and retweets from subscribers. In that case, curation can also improve, similar to how Proof-of-Stake (PoS) systems often appoint a validator to propose a new block and a committee to empower other validators to double-check their work. All things being equal, a tweet from a paying subscriber liked and retweeted by other paying subscribers is likely to be more helpful. People who complain that this approach discriminates against the poor don’t understand how social media works. Many YouTubers are already paying to get more traction. They do it on the black market.

Why else would there be so many ways to buy influence? So many fake accounts don’t come about by accident. Charging people directly has more integrity because we know exactly who is paying.

Paying subscribers also allows Twitter to diversify beyond advertising revenue, putting the brakes on surveillance capitalism. Today, users who don’t pay to buy influence continue to pay attention, which algorithms constantly try to hijack with polarizing content to sell them. Show more. Subscription models tend to result in content that prioritizes quality over quantity, hence the success of Substack and Netflix. Musk has also hinted that the search algorithm will be open source and pay content creators one day. These features would bring the analogy to bitcoin overall.

The incentives between content creators and consumers will be better matched if Twitter allows anyone to subscribe for a fee and then allocates a percentage of that income to the most well-liked authors and curators. With Bitcoin, the most dishonest miner is compelled to emerge. Twitter ought to function similarly.

To be clear, a private investor-owned centralized platform is still very different from a truly decentralized network like Bitcoin. But possibly the most significant contribution cryptocurrencies have made to society is adding charges for the most vital tasks and rewarding people who do outstanding work. Any effort to apply these concepts to already-existing platforms, however feeble, should be commended. We hope to have a fully functional.

Omid Malekan has nine years of experience in the bitcoin business and teaches blockchain and cryptocurrencies as an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. Re-Architecting Trust: The Curse of History and the Crypto Cure for Money, Markets, and Platforms, which is due soon, was written by him.

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