It is no secret that the digital media world is constantly changing, whether for better or worse. We, as a digital community, rely on certain platforms to be the home of the spaces where we foster online conversation. As a result, we are also relying on those in control of these platforms to maintain the community and allow us to continue creating conversation online. This is known as centralization, where one authority is in charge of an entity. Some examples of these platforms who have made recent changes and upset some of their community is Twitter and Reddit. Some have been unhappy with the changes to Twitter, now known as X, since the takeover of billionaire, Elon Musk. Meanwhile, Reddit has made changes that have essentially alienated its most loyal users.
This has led to controversy in the digital media world regarding what, if anything, we as a society should do. I believe this is a somewhat complicated answer. Capitalism is one of the things that makes the United States so great. It allows for opportunity everywhere, a free market and little government intervention. Therefore, it really should not be up to the users or government to tell an owner of a platform, which is a privately owned business, what to do with their platform. We can display our displeasure with certain changes, but that can only go so far. It is ultimately our choice whether or not we use these platforms, and if users are unhappy with changes made, then they should leave. But, what are the alternatives?
The future of the internet is decentralization. From Brooke Becher, “A decentralized web reorganizes the internet from centralized platforms that host services to a global, peer-to-peer network that is independently regulated.” Like the image displays, centralized means everything connects or goes back to one single point. Decentralized means it is independent of any one authority, giving users more control over their internet experience. One of the most popular forms that I myself use of decentralization comes from cryptocurrency, known as blockchains. It allows users to connect to each other, rather than connecting through a medium. In other words, we would no longer need these centralized platforms like Twitter and Reddit to connect.
There are many pros when it comes to a decentralized web. One of which being reduced censorship. In the current world of media, the centralized platforms claim to censor as little as possible. But, it is clear that some posts tend to reach more users than others based on the algorithms used. With decentralized platforms, there is no one authority that can decide to censor information. One of the biggest pros to a decentralized web is the increase in privacy. Everytime we use the internet, our data is being collected, stored and likely sold. Decentralization would prevent this by making our information more secure, private and in the user’s control. To support decentralization, we as a society can use the decentralized platforms that already exist. Steemit is just one example of a decentralized platform where users can actually earn cryptocurrency from curating content.