Defending Internet Freedom through Decentralization

Defending Internet Freedom through Decentralization: Back to the Future? by The Center for Civic Media & The Digital Currency Initiative MIT Media Lab, August 2017. Chelsea Barabas, Neha Narula, Ethan Zuckerman (

In this report, we explore two important ways structurally decentralized systems could help address the risks of mega-platform consolidation: First, these systems can help users directly publish and discover content directly, without intermediaries, and thus without censorship. All of the systems we evaluate advertise censorship-resistance as a major benefit. Second, these systems could indirectly enable greater competition and user choice, by lowering the barrier to entry for new platforms. As it stands, it is difficult for users to switch between platforms (they must recreate all their data when moving to a new service) and most mega-platforms do not interoperate, so switching means leaving behind your social network. Some systems we evaluate directly address the issues of data portability and interoperability in an effort to support greater competition.

This research report is fascinating.

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