Trump’s War on Social Media is an Opportunity for Decentralized Platforms

We are surrounded by battles, if one wants to use the language of war that seems to be the default setting of a number of political leaders. For some months the world focused on defeating Covid-19, but as interest in that wanes, President Trump, and indeed the USA, have all too readily provided us with two other touchpaper moments that have claimed our attention, and they are intertwined: the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Trump’s executive order targeting social media platforms.

Trump signed this executive order two days after Twitter tagged two of his tweets with fact-check warnings. Twitter placed a warning over the President’s tweet, warning readers that the post “glorifies violence.” Yes, it’s that tweet in which Trump appeared to threaten people protesting the death of George Floyd with being shot. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” he happily typed from the White House, having made so many preposterous statements on his preferred social media channel that it never occurred to him that one day it might bite him on the ass.

The message from Twitter read: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” the message reads. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” More than a few people applauded Twitter’s decision to call Trump out, but when Twitter did it again over his tweet that mail-in voting would lead to widespread fraud, it was the straw that broke the President’s fragile ego.

Mark Zuckerberg disapproved of Twitter’s move and self-righteously declared Facebook would not be an “arbiter of the truth,” which provoked some eye rolling as people remembered its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook’s employees, including senior staff felt rather differently and staged a virtual walkout to protest Trump’s posts. The New York Times reported, “staff members have circulated petitions and threatened to resign, and a number of employees wrote publicly about their unhappiness on Twitter and elsewhere.” One Facebook employee wrote in an internal message board, “The hateful rhetoric advocating violence against black demonstrators by the US President does not warrant defense under the guise of freedom of expression.” Zuckerberg’s mantra “the public should be allowed to decide what to believe,” hasn’t washed with his own employees.

What does Trump’s executive order mean for social media platforms going forward?

In legal terms it is an attempt to withdraw the free speech protection that Section 230 gives to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google, by not holding them responsible for what users post on their platforms. Shirin Ghaffary at Vox, explains, “the order tasks regulators at the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to create new rules that could pull back some of those protections, potentially opening them up to a litany of lawsuits for libel, defamation, and other complaints.”

However, don’t panic just yet: “many legal experts say the order is largely toothless and will be challenged in court. More important is the executive order’s symbolic threat to social media companies, “as they continue to grapple with moderating contentious speech,” Ghaffary says.

It’s an opportunity for decentralized social media

In the midst of all this, Billy Bambrough makes an interesting suggestion. He says, “The move could further open the door for blockchain-based decentralized alternatives that are already beginning to threaten the dominance of Facebook and Twitter.

The existing social media giants are “are not too big to fail but rather too big to block,” Bambrough says, and cites the face-off between the “free speech absolutists who “argue that being removed or censored from the biggest social media channels prevents them from taking part in society,” and the capitalists who believe “commercial businesses should be able to decide who uses their services and can’t be made to host people and opinions they dislike.”

As a result, some think decentralized, blockchain-based social networks that are resistant to government or internal control are a potential answer. Su Zhu, the chief executive of Three Arrows Capital tweeted that Web3 has been underrated until now, and as Bambrough comments, “A number of decentralized social media projects have emerged in recent years, though have so far failed to convincingly break through to the mainstream.” Perhaps this is their moment to change that.

Returning to the war theme, Daniel Gross, the founder of startup accelerator Pioneer, asked on Twitter, “”Is Twitter’s fact-labeling a Franz Ferdinand moment,” in reference to the assassination that has been credited with sparking the First World War.

No doubt the Silicon Valley ‘generals’ are preparing strategies and battle formations to protect their position in this regulatory war for the social networks, but the ultimate winner could be a whole new world of blockchain-based social media platforms.

Facebook and the Advertiser Backlash

The Washinton Post has published an explosive story about the tech giant this week, reporting that Facebook started altering its policies in 2015 to accommodate the Trump campaign for the Presidency. Numerous former Facebook employees supplied the information, which is behind this paywall.

Facebook also saw 7% shaved off its share price on Friday following the announcement by Coca Cola that it is pausing all its social media advertising. This move also wiped $7 billion off Mark Zuckerberg’s personal net worth!

The advertisers’ revolt

At the same time, Starbucks also said it would pause its advertising on social media platforms, according to CNBC, “and promises to have discussions internally and with media partners and civil rights organizations to stop the spread of hate speech.”

Others joining this move include Unilever, which is halting advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. through to 31st December, and Diageo said it will be pausing paid advertising globally on “major social media platforms” beginning in July.

Facebook and Hate Speech

According to CNBC, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will change its policies to prohibit hate speech in its advertisements. Under its new policies, Facebook will ban ads that claim people from a specific race, ethnicity, nationality, caste, gender, sexual orientation or immigration origin are a threat to the physical safety or health of anyone else.

Zuckerberg said: “I am committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues,” Zuckerberg said. “But I also stand against hate or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we’re committed to removing that content too, no matter where it comes from.”

Zuckerberg’s comments come after nearly 100 brands announced that they would pull their advertising from Facebook for the month of July or longer as part a movement called #StopHateForProfit. The movement is protesting “Facebook’s repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms.”

Led by Twitter

At first Zuckerberg said he wouldn’t follow Twitter’s decision to label some of Trump’s tweets as false information. However, it now seems he has bowed to heavy criticism from his own employees for refusing to censor or moderate a post from President Trump in late May. Facebook will now label content that it decides to leave up because it is deemed newsworthy and valuable to the public interest, even if it otherwise violates the company’s policies, which is exactly what Twitter does.

7 Trends of the 4th Industrial Revolution?

Things are moving fast in our world, with technology leading the transformation of businesses, job and society generally. The next decade is going to define the latest Industrial Revolution and there are a number of technology trends that are playing a core role.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning refer to the ability of machines to learn and act intelligently. We are already using it at home as Amazon presents us with products we might be interested in based on previous purchases. But it is going to get even bigger, and we will see it carry out a wide range of human-like processes, such as seeing (facial recognition), writing (chatbots), and speaking (Alexa).

The Internet of Things

This refers to everyday devices and objects that are connected to the Internet and which gather and transmit data. We have smartphones already, but soon we will have smart fridges, and smart everything.

Big Data

This is all about the explosion in the amount of data that is being generated as more ‘thing’s and services are digital. By analysing masses of data with intelligent algorithms, companies can identify patterns and relationships that they couldn’t see before, allowing them to offer more personalised services.


Although blockchain has been around since 2009, it is still expanding and changing its uses beyond cryptocurrency. Expect to see blockchain being used for storing, authenticating, and protecting data, and transforming banking.


Robots are intelligent machines that can understand and respond to their environment and perform routine or complex tasks by themselves.

We will see more Cobots in the next few years. These enhance the work that humans do and interact safely and easily with the human workforce. They are your new work colleagues!

5G Networks

5G is the fifth generation of cellular network technology, and it will deliver much faster and more stable wireless networking. It is necessary for all the ‘smart’ things we’re going to have, as mentioned above.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing will make our current systems look as though Fred Flintstone used them. It will completely redefine what a computer is, and is bound to be a game changer in the world of AI.

Amazon and Google are spoilt brats

Amazon has in recent months been named as the ‘monster’ responsible for killing off high street retail businesses. It’s so convenient, especially if you use the Prime service, and if you have Alexa as well, you barely need to stir from your armchair. The firm is so invaluable to our daily lives that it has become the most valuable public company worldwide, and that makes it very powerful.

The battle over streaming services

Then there is Google, another giant company. Amazon is already in a war with Google over streaming services. Some time ago, Amazon banned any streaming service from its Amazon store, because they competed with Amazon’s own streaming hardware. The reason it gave was this; it was to avoid “customer confusion.”

In an email, Amazon said: “Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prim. It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.”

A game of tit-for-tat

Of course this led to a tit-for-tat response that escalated in 2017. For example, YouTube blocked the availability of its videos on Amazon’s Echo Show hardware, saying that this move was purely due to a “broken user experience.”

Amazon’s response was to ban more Google products from its site, by adding the Google Nest hardware to its blacklisted products.

Amazon also managed to find a workaround for its Echo Show users ho wanted to use YouTube, but Google managed to block that. YouTube then informed owners of Amazon’s Fire TV products that YouTube would no longer work on that hardware either. Basically, the feud hit rock bottom, because now customers experienced a broken experience on whichever platform they tried to use.

Google issued this statement: “”​We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

A playground tiff

Doesn’t it remind you of a playground tiff at a kindergarten? Rather than setlle the issue like two professional companies, they have indulged in a massive spat that leaves customers — the very people that are most important to them –wondering where else they can get a similar service from. They also showed that companies as powerful as they are can simply “eliminate integral functionality” when they feel like it, which demonstrates to consumers that they don’t really own what they have purchased. And how has the consumer responded? By continuing to use both these services and pushing them towards even greater domination, all for the sake of convenience. Surely there is a lesson to be learnt here?