Butterfly Protocol President Dana Farbo Discusses Decentralized Social Media and Censorship
Recent events in the United States of America have created a new scenario. The current technology giants have all of a sudden become the masters of the Universe.
For the first time in history, social media and other technology companies censored the accounts of a sitting President.
While there may be issues that surround the previous President’s politics, the restriction of free speech as per the first amendment of the United States’ constitution was still an issue.
The E-Crypto News editorial desk reached out to Dana Farbo, the president of Butterfly Protocol; a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that is censorship-resistant. Here is what she had to say.
Dana Farbo, President Butterfly Protocol
- What do you think the future holds for Social media platforms now that censorship has become an issue?
It is concerning that some social media platforms are enabling or facing censorship at an increasing rate. Social media is now embedded in societies across the globe and will not go away.
They will continue to expand, but there is change coming. If certain platforms continue to be governed by internal compliance systems that make it difficult for users to understand what they can do and say, then users will move to other platforms that align with their interests.
2. Do you think Governments should censor user content on social media platforms? Please tell us the reasons for your answer. What role(s) do you think the Government should play in regulating social media platforms?
Governments need to provide legal frameworks for what is acceptable in any society based on moral and cultural values. As such, clear violations of accepted law will be subject to penalties including censorship.
Forced or influenced censorship by governments because of a political viewpoint or individual self interest should not be tolerated. Governments should deal in clear rules, not ambiguous ones.
3. How does the butterfly protocol work?
The Butterfly Protocol is a naming convention for the web. It is built to work in a decentralized and distributed environment rather than a centralized and controlledThe Butterfly Protocol is a naming convention for the web.
It is built to work in a decentralized and distributed environment rather than a centralized and controlled environment that 99% of us use today with websites, DNS and domain names.
Butterfly starts by allowing anyone to create a TLD (top-level domain) that is part of a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) so that no one owns that TLD (example .HUMAN).
Then, like the current system, people can buy a subdomain and they can own it forever. Once you buy the subdomain (example – myname.HUMAN), you never have to pay for using it again.
From the ownership of the subdomain, you can create applications that work with decentralized technology to store and retrieve data.
This allows for any application, such as a social media app, a website, an identity wallet, or others to be built and be able to point to data that can bypass centrally controlled servers and the current IP environment.
It can also tie in to those systems as well and use a hybrid environment.
4. Are there incentives for content generation on platforms that run on the Butterfly protocol?
Each DApp (decentralized application) will be built using their own business logic and technology stack. Butterfly can provide a framework and the tools to integrate the naming system, but each DApp developer will build theirs as they see fit and integrate incentives if they want.
5. How does the Butterfly Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) governance model work? Is it provably fair in governance?
The governance of the naming system is set. It is developed and worked into the smart contract. As a DAO, Butterfly was built, and as the name implies, it has emerged from the cocoon and is ready to fly free.
For each DApp, the governance is dictated by the owners of that DApp. For instance, with our social media DApp Butterfly Social, we look to get community involvement in the governance for content moderation.
For instance, holders of our subBFLY token may be able to vote on certain areas of moderation for content rather than have one person or group control misuse. We believe in the power of the community first.
6. How can decentralized organizations govern themselves to prevent illegal activities on their platforms?
We believe in a mantra, “You create it and if you own it, you are responsible for it.” At the same time, engaging the community for moderation does make sense, but there is also an aspect of monitoring by authorities.
If someone breaks the law, we would expect that there is a way for that person to be tracked and repercussions to possibly happen.
7. Which direction do you think platforms that need minimal censorship are going in? How will this affect social media usage in the future?
Decentralized and distributed platforms are the future as we move to edge computing and local systems that aggregate blockchain nodes for pointing to, storing and authentication data, then allowing for interfaces where the owner can manage that data.
Everything will be more concentrated locally and then push up and pull down from the cloud as needed. This means that the local or invited communities will be the future of social media at the core to move away from the noise of everyone and the advertising that gets pushed to us because we fit a demographic.
We may still let targeted advertising in, but we will be rewarded for allowing that. For censorship, it will again come down to locally acceptable norms and the community to rule rather than faceless bots or biased individuals at the central organization.
8. How is the Butterfly protocol naming system inventing the future?
The future is here for the naming convention. Through the proliferation of DApps, the promise of the future will be realized where censorship is virtually eliminated except when it is moderated by the community.
This does not mean that content goes away. If I create something, it will live in a digital form forever. It only means that the collective determines if the content has value for them.
9. What are your thoughts on the recent censorship activities of social media platforms? Do you think decentralized social media platforms should self-regulate? How can this occur effectively without stifling free speech?
The recent events have exposed the central control that major social media platforms have to the world.
There is a need to protect from a free-for-all and unlimited access to anything, but the power should reside in the community more so than random moderators.
If a DApp creates a free-for-all business with that DApp, the acceptance by a community may be low and the business unsustainable.
It is at the DApp level that free speech vehicles such as social media applications are built around the Butterfly Protocol.
10. Does the emergence of decentralized organizations mean the end for centralized social media platforms? How can centralized social media platforms adapt to the coming changes?
Decentralized organizations should be part of the overall fabric of our digital lives. As long as they can add value and be sustainable as a business, then they have their place.
They may be the prominent social environment of the future but the centralized systems do come with value as well and will be around a long time.
Hybrid systems will most likely emerge that provide a way to tap into larger audiences while maintaining the control of our own groups and content without censorship.
11. How can people get to use the Butterfly protocol? What do they need to do?
Butterfly is rolling out domain naming registration in February, and will be educating the public on how to use it through the DApp ecosystem.
The Butterfly Social DApp will be the first example of a usable mobile app that will pave the way for more DApps to come.
12. What can the Butterfly protocol be used for and what can’t it be used for?
Anything that uses the web can use Butterfly Protocol now or in the future, from websites to apps.
It is only a matter of connecting a different type of data storage system through blockchain and creating the interconnectivity and interoperability of the systems.
12. Are we seeing the intervention of Governments as a new trend in the censorship of free speech? Just how far will the government go in this regard? Will decentralized platforms be the ultimate answer?
Governments have always been involved in censorship, no matter how free the supposed country is. It has just been brought more into the spotlight lately, especially with how people can communicate with each other through social media, text messaging and more.
Regardless of the very visible censorship examples recently, social media has allowed for more information exchange than ever before. The Arab Spring showed us that social media plays a huge role in social change.
Pure decentralized platforms are only part of the answer. We need centralization in some form or another but the future is a hybrid of the two.
Governments will adjust and though they may lag in the implementation of decentralized systems, over time they will see value for using them.
For instance, elections can be supported by decentralized personal identity management using voice, fingerprint, eyes and facial recognition.
Do we want these ways of identification controlled by a central server or do we want to be assured that these databases are decentralized with an immutable ledger system that ensures you are you.
13. What are your plans for 2021? Care to spill the beans?
At Butterfly, we took the approach to build something of value before we released it or told the world. We are now ready to turn it loose. There is a lot to do but Butterfly is ready to fly.