When Threads launched on July 5, it announced that it had gained more than 100 million organic users in its first five days, and it was clear that the public was interested. The ease of transition, familiarity, and the fact that they didn’t need to learn new technology was enough to keep them from thinking, “Why choose between bad and worse?”

As we happily jumped platforms, taking data from one multi-billionaire and handing it to another, we missed the real problem. Twitter CEO Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg are winners, but users are still losing.

The cost to Threads users to facilitate the transition is in the billions of dollars. But they choose to do so with the blithe enthusiasm of leaving a platform where users pay for verification and deal with limits on the number of posts they can read. “Hold it to the man” (by yielding to another…). Who promised that Threads wouldn’t apply the same practices and force users to either embrace social media’s big brother or switch to another platform? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

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The teams behind blockchain-based social media and decentralized identities have slept through the opportunity to collaborate and change the way social networks approach authentication along with profile and data ownership. Only with recent promises to create a a decentralized version of Reddit, we are too late for education and infrastructure to house homeless Twitter outcasts. There is no choice but to accept easy, affordable fibers. But what exactly are we losing?

Profile portability and data management

Should you be the same no matter what platform and provider you use?

Decentralized ID or self-sovereign identity is a form of identification or digital profile. But unlike centralized accounts, profiles and related data remain under users’ control. It’s like having a Google or Facebook account to log in to different apps and sites without depending on Google or Facebook as the sole providers and storage entities of your data.

If Twitter and Threads used decentralized IDs, switching from one platform to the other would be as easy as plugging a USB flash drive (remember?) into a new laptop. But it’s not like that. Why? Zuckerberg thrives on selling data. Twitter doesn’t monetize data to the same extent, but it naturally doesn’t want to give its data or users to the competition.

Twitter users worldwide, 2019-2024. Source: Extra

Separate identity means no data unless users knowingly give it to you. But most won’t do it without getting paid for the value they provide. Twitter and Threads don’t want to be defeated. As long as they dominate the news space, they give it alternative solution no chance to pass. They remain winners.

The transition of much of the Twitter community to Threads required a complete reboot and profile creation without prior verification, which also led to fraud and liabilities. In the Web3 community that used Twitter as its main means of communication, scammers took the opportunity to create profiles of companies and influencers for their financial gain. These users didn’t switch to Threads – was it their fault?

Should companies and influencers be forced to create proxy Threads profiles as a precaution against scammers? In the Web2 world, yes. However, if only Threads used its own sovereign identity, users could easily verify that the IDs used to create new profiles are owned by the companies and individuals they claim to belong to.

Community Verification

Another reason why users are losing the battle between Twitter and threads is the central authority. The often cryptic requirements to be verified and decisions regarding content bans rest in the centralized hands of platform teams led by their CEO. Decentralized social networks offer an alternative.

Platforms that work as decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) allow their communities to make decisions based on community guidelines, such as how to deal with bots and whether to flag or ban fake news or troll content.

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As decentralized ID comes into play, decentralized authentication mechanisms will also emerge. With blockchain, you could offer users the opportunity to earn reputation points for being active in the community or sharing valuable content. They could gain leadership or management roles and help navigate the platform as the social network grows. It’s an alternative to the arcane, centrally designed algorithms used by popular platforms.

The above sounds promising, right? So, how do we make this a reality?

The battle between Twitter and Threads should be a wake-up call for decentralized social networking projects and decentralized ID providers to come together, partner, and create stand-alone, data-free alternatives to making the rich even richer. They must not only work on the technology, but also show the public that there is another way. One way to do this is to help users see the value of their data, help them monetize it, and make it worth the cost of platform hopping. Network effects will do the rest and users will become the real winners.

Caria Wei is the co-founder of Nuvo. She holds an MBA from Toronto’s Schulich School of Business, York University, specializing in strategic management and entrepreneurship. He is also a Project Management Professional (PMP), an AWS Solution Architect and a professional scrum master.

This article is for general informational purposes and is not intended and should not be construed as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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