A decentralized internet is what I am calling for, the reason, simple, US tech companies have way too much power. This was made apparently clear after US President Donald Trump incited his supporters to storm the capital buildings over false claims of election fraud. Trump was then rightfully removed from all internet platforms in a very coordinated manner. Amazon, Facebook, Twitter even Shopify all removed all association with trump from their platforms.
Yes, these tech companies were well within their rights and policies to do this, but the message was sent. If the 45th US president could be removed from the internet by US tech companies, then they essentially hold more power than him or at least have more power over the internet then world leaders do. Social media app Parler, known for hosting many Trump supporters was also swiftly removed from Google and Apple’s App stores and even Amazon’s web servers.
Today, censorship is alive, this is why I am calling for a decentralized internet, which will help ordinary people gain some of their power back. If a small group of companies control the infrastructure of the internet then they will inevitably be some overreaches, as they have to apply the exact same policies over all their platforms or risk being called out by politicians and civil society. The answer to this problem is for them to decentralize their platforms and spread the burden.
Make no mistake, I am not defending Trump’s actions or his statements that led to his removal, I’m also not opposed to the major tech company’s decisions as to how their businesses should run. What I am trying to point out is this new form of censorship should not be taken lightly, as this is a very slippery slope and these tech companies will have to stand by their actions in the future. There will be other similar incidences and leaders who incite violence and tech companies will have to be consistent.
A decentralized internet may not be feasible right now due to technological constraints, but a gap in the market place has opened up for such a business model. The next generation of tech companies will have to have decentralization in mind not only as a marketing tool but also to secure their survival. What does this decentralized internet look like? I’m not quite sure, initially decentralized applications like LBRY seemed like the answer but after the removal of Parler, a holistic approach needs to be considered.
Decentralizing the internet infrastructure doesn’t only mean changing the type of application available but also changing how the software of the internet is made, the devices which are used to access the internet and also the web servers which forms the internet’s framework itself. In order to secure true free speech online and censorship resistance, everything that forms the backbone of the internet will have to be decentralized. This may not be feasible right now, but every great innovation takes will and time.