Minds.com CEO Bill Ottman recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience, where he talked about the importance of open source and decentralization. While these are subjects near and dear to his heart, they are more a vehicle for his true passion – building a social infrastructure that respects people’s rights. We caught up with Bill shortly after the podcast to talk about the growth Minds has experienced as a result of the appearance, as well as the recent forays into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency made by two other social media CEOs: Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.
Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg: Crypto Posers?
Ottman told CCN that Zuckerberg and Dorsey demonstrated a philosophical conflict by adopting cryptocurrency – or in the case of Dorsey, pumping Bitcoin – without building open systems into their own products at Facebook and Twitter:
“I think that there’s a disconnect between how Dorsey is supporting Bitcoin but at the same time Twitter is a closed platform. The philosophy of Twitter is in conflict with the philosophy of Bitcoin. I do think it’s good that more high profile are using Bitcoin. It’s good that they’re doing that. But the Cash App, as well, is a closed system. Twitter is a closed system. It seems like they’re trying to use Bitcoin as opposed to build on it.”
“I think the core philosophy of Twitter and Facebook, who is also launching a blockchain program – they’re both doing the same thing. They’re using it to make headlines and show that they’re relevant, but they’re not building the same open systems into their own products. […]”
Then it occurs to Ottman that perhaps the situation can be rectified. What if users challenge Facebook and Twitter to walk the walk?
“If they’re going to act like they care about Bitcoin, then I would they want to spread the philosophy of Bitcoin, open-source, and decentralization into their own products. But it doesn’t feel like they’re making an effort to do that. And if they are, it seems like a proprietary, closed-source effort to integrate the functionality of it, so they can ride the coat-tails of it without becoming it. It doesn’t seem like those high-profile companies have the same values.”
“I fully support big tech embracing crypto. However, people should not be under the illusion that Facebook and Twitter actually care about the values of crypto if they themselves do not open source and decentralize.”
Ottman has an optimistic view of technology. He believes it’s possible for companies like Facebook, rife with scandals surrounding its handling of people’s private information and feasting to the tune of many billions on the emotions of young people around the globe, to change.
Censorship Resistance in Social Media: An Increasingly Important Dynamic
During the conversation, Ottman mentions that YouTube censorship is at an all-time high. They’ve been on a tear as of late, and most recently started demonetizing videos based on user comments.
That’s right: you can have a totally legitimate video, but if users make unsavory comments, you can lose your revenue stream. Fortunately, there are a growing number of alternative video hosting sites, including D.Tube, which runs on the Steem blockchain.
“I think this whole thing is a misconception of the nature of advertising. In a physical space, say an advertisement gets put up on a billboard. And say some naked person runs up in front of it. Or say someone does grafitti on it that’s offensive. Is the billboard owner or advertiser responsible for it? […] Should your ability to advertise be subject to your political beliefs? People with certain political beliefs are being paid more money. That’s what’s happening.”
“I think that it’s an advertiser’s right to advertise with whoever they want to. But I also think that there should be better solutions than full demonetization.”
YouTube Demonetizing Content Over User Comments
Why can’t YouTube just offer discounted rates on videos it would otherwise demonetize? Demonetization, after all, means that no one can advertise on the videos even if they want to do so. It’s a net loss to YouTube.
But Minds and Steem and other blockchain-oriented platforms don’t use advertising as a primary means of funding anyhow. As you may recall, Minds lets the user become the advertiser. Everyone earns tokens for their participation on the platform, and the tokens are redeemable for “boosting” content.
This has always been the core of the business model. These days, people can buy the tokens directly, and with the recent growth spurt thanks to the help of Joe Rogan, boosted content will be reaching a lot more people.