Bitcoin And Twitter Integration May Not Bring Decentralized Social Media

There have been reports of Twitter integrating Bitcoin (BTC) tipping from their app. This would allow users to receive BTC from their followers or from anyone who appreciates their content. This would require some payment integration with the Bitcoin blockchain, allowing Twitter accounts to receive BTC tips. While there is no final word on that ever becoming a feature (as of posting), it is generating excitement among crypto-fanatics on social media.

Tipping on Twitter is possible using a third party payment channel. It is called the Tip Jar service, and you can receive money that goes through a payment processor like PayPal. It would also be possible to receive crypto like BTC, but once again this is assuming Twitter will actually integrate crypto. Jack Dorsey (Twitter CEO) did mention before that he has plans for Bitcoin and Twitter, but whether this is part of the plan remains to be seen.

Due to this news, can we also assume (or expect) that Bitcoin will help make Twitter a more decentralized social media platform? After all, Bitcoin is based on the ideology of decentralization and censorship resistance. Those are things that Twitter is actually not known for. They are highly centralized with a team of systems administrators and moderators who check content and have even banned a former head of state and public figures who have violated their terms of service. Twitter has also been accused of bias when it comes to content, but there has been no undeniable proof that has been determined by the court of law.

Decentralization means there is no one controlling the platform. That is in contrast to Twitter. The Bitcoin network is considered decentralized because no single entity controls it. It consists of independent nodes that verify payments, hold copies of the blockchain database or mine blocks for rewards. If one of the nodes goes down, the entire network can still operate. If Twitter were to shut down, it affects the entire network operations. With decentralization you also have platform neutrality because no one is going to restrict any user’s action, even if they have consequences (this is another topic for debate).

In a decentralized platform, there are no admins or moderators who check the content. Not even AI algorithms that make sure users are following the company policy. There is no need for that, so a truly decentralized platform is not regulated. It can still deal with bad actors, but that requires community to come to a consensus. Decentralized networks are based on this mechanism to keep users honest and properly behave. With Twitter, it is decided by a few people at the top of the organization. You can make the argument that Twitter can do what it wants because it is their platform. That is fine, but it is the perfect example of a centralized organization.

Some would say making the software open source paves the way to decentralization. The Twitter app is open source just like Bitcoin. They are both open source, yet one is centralized and the other is not. Therefore it is not about being open source. It is really more about organizational structure and policy. Twitter can become decentralized if it has not main office or central authority for leadership. Bitcoin does not even have a recognizable executive team like Twitter. Its founder is an anonymous user and it has no directors or employees. Those who work in Bitcoin development are for the most part volunteers.

So even with Bitcoin integration it is not likely Twitter will become decentralized. Just because a company uses crypto does not mean they follow the principles behind it. Even digital exchanges like Coinbase and Binance have a high degree of centralization, despite embracing the cryptospace. They have an executive board, they can shut down accounts, ban users and manipulate data. As long as the organization exists as a single entity with board members consisting of a few people not voted through consensus, it will not be decentralized.

(Photo Banner Credit: JESSICA TICOZZELLI)