As much as Twitter has done to connect users the world over and drive awareness of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, the social network can’t shake its toxic perception—and last week’s Bitcoin-tinged hack raised serious questions about its security.
For cryptocurrency entrepreneur and angel investor Balaji S. Srinivasan, the hack was the tipping point. He sees an urgent need for users to begin departing Twitter, and has proposed a system for people to build their own decentralized networks to help fill the void.
In a blog post titled “How to Gradually Exit Twitter,” Srinivasan—formerly Chief Technical Officer of Coinbase and General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, as well as co-founder of such startups as Earn.com and Counsyl—makes his case for the perils of using Twitter.
Besides the recent example of the large-scale hack, in which prominent accounts were commandeered to tweet out a Bitcoin scam, Srinivasan points to a lack of verification for tweets, along with the lack of pseudonymity, Twitter’s control over your reach and monetization, and how he believes that the social network encourages conflict.
“It’s not good for the world when the one thing every prominent person knows how to do is fight each other on Twitter for likes and followers,” he writes. “It has converted society into a zero-sum status game played by elites with real consequences.”
Srinivasan’s solution? Buy a domain and start your own newsletter. While that may sound simplistic, he suggests using your existing Twitter presence to begin pulling followers into your own dedicated nexus by only tweeting posts from your site.
Gradually, he suggests, such newsletter operators can network together by creating joint RSS feeds and using other decentralized tools to nurture their own social circles outside of Twitter’s ecosystem.
Srinivasan believes that his solution could ultimately help reform Twitter itself, as he calls out the company’s own explorations into a decentralized future while also praising co-founder (and Bitcoin enthusiast) Jack Dorsey for being a “phenomenal entrepreneur.”
“Moreover, even after this hack, Twitter will likely continue to be an important internet battlefield for quite some time,” Srinivasan adds. “It’s just too easy, too convenient. And it may turn out that whatever is built to exit Twitter will end up interfacing with Twitter itself, via their decentralized protocol, if only as a form of training wheels to help people get off.”
“Hopefully this can be done in a win-win way,” he continues, “such that Twitter and its employees are incentivized to allow people to gradually exit and fix the issues on the centralized service.”
Besides the hack, Srinivasan may find Twitter to be a less appealing place of late due to backlash to his own behavior, including aggressive hounding of New York Times journalist Taylor Lorenz. Srinivasan is a very frequent tweeter, and as he admits in his own post, has “gotten enormous value out of Twitter.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether he follows his own advice and gradually breaks away from Twitter. More pressingly, will his considerable reach—including more than 228,000 followers as of this writing—convince many others to do the same?