Bill Ottman (How to build and run a ‘free speech social network’?)

00:00:34 What drove Bill to start back in 2011? Why is fundamentally different than other social networks?
00:07:31 Why did the ‘legacy’ social networks get so big?
00:11:22 Is there a better engagement algorithm? How ‘manipulative’ is the current engagement algorithm?
00:14:20 Why social networks all have such a similar business model and why they all struggle to keep you on the site (through emotional manipulation).
00:18:15 Are conservative media outlets really at an disadvantage on social media platforms? Why some make it and some don’t?
00:23:01 Is banning ‘offensive accounts’ by Facebook/ Twitter a good business decision?
00:29:48 How does run their backend? Can they easily be shut down by one cloud provider?
00:34:35 Could you run a whole website based on ‘blockchain web services’?
00:37:50 What should be the content moderation policy of a free speech social network like Should ‘hate speech’ be a bannable offense?
00:52:06 Will we continue to put ‘social layers of separation’ between us?
01:02:46 Why are we all still on Facebook if we feel it is so bad for society?

Bill Ottman is the CEO and co-founder at Minds.

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Torsten Jacobi: Hey, so you run since 2011, right? So it’s an alternative social network. If you can give us the 30,000 feet view of

Bill Ottman: Yeah, Minds is an open source crypto social network. Basically, functionally similar to major social platforms except under the hood, we’re trying to do everything the opposite. So we actually care about people’s privacy. We have end to end encryption in our messenger. All of our code is fully transparent so anyone can inspect our algorithms. Anyone can even clone our whole site and make their own app with our code. We have a First Amendment based content policy. We’re very passionate about free expression. And we also reward creators with both crypto and dollars cash for their contributions. And we’re very focused on revenue sharing. And we’re also community owned. Over 1500 members of Minds actually own stock in the company. So we sort of are building a much more kind of people powered ethos.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, I’d say you’re the Green Bay Packers of social media. They’re owned by their fans. Nice. At least to a good extent. I don’t know, it’s 100%. Yeah, but you know, they really built their brand well with that little ad on when you when you start in 2011. We know that social media has gone crazy in the whole debate about social media really exploded last year, especially with the election. When you start in 2011, what was the rationale behind it? What was your moment where you said, okay, we need to start minds?

Bill Ottman: Basically, the combination of all of the surveillance scandals and just total lack of transparency. I mean, if you if you look at the leading networks on the planet, you know, most of them, I mean, they’re basically all closed source and proprietary, meaning they don’t share their code. But then meanwhile, you have projects like Linux, or Wikipedia, and Firefox, and, you know, major players who are open source and community powered, and, you know, not exploiting their users, and they have managed to, you know, enter into like the most competitive, you know, they’re like Wikipedia is like a top 10 site, Mozilla Firefox is a very popular browser. You know, and we see the same thing happening with Bitcoin, it’s like open source software is eating software. So that’s just going to keep happening and it’s going to happen in social, social is going to become more decentralized, it’s going to become more respectful of users, going to give users more power and control. It’s just where things are going. So, you know, we we kind of saw that coming back then.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, well, that’s a lot of foresight, man. When we look into open source, a lot of people doubted in the first place, because it’s a bit of you exploit the developers, you just said exploit the users, it doesn’t do it, right, it exploits the developers. So speaking, I was I was talking to Daniel Gross a while ago, runs an accelerator. And he’s like, so it’s still being in the open source industry for 10 years, it’s all mystery to him, that there’s so much going on in open source, but so little in close source, because there is no monetary incentive, right, there is just an incentive to be rewarded with human recognition that you have produced some great code, but there is no monetary incentive. And he says to his surprise, this might outweigh actually the monetary incentive.

Bill Ottman: Oh, the recognition? I mean, that’s a that’s a there’ve been studies about it, the proof developers are much more motivated when they’re contributing to open source software, as opposed to, you know, some corporation who’s just going to hide everything they did forever. And, you know, you don’t get to have other people build on top of it. But I would sort of reject that open source cannot be profitable. Because, you know, there are a number of licenses and strategies, which can be used, you know, and a typical like Apache or MIT open source license, which gives the, you know, whoever’s using it the ability to basically take the changes and make their stuff proprietary, you know, there, that’s one route. And there’s a lot of that that’s a great license. But, you know, for instance, our code is agplv3, which is actually like a copy left license. So anyone can do whatever they want with their code, they can monetize it, they can make their own app. But if they create changes, they have to share the changes with everybody, including us. So that’s the difference between a copy left license and a typical open source license. But then you have things like what Uniswap is doing. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, they’re a decentralized trading protocol on Ethereum, very popular project, For their newest version, they’re doing a time delayed GPL. So basically, for two years, nobody can fork them and compete with them. But after two years, they can. Because look, I mean, you’re not going to attract developers if you’re not open source at this point.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good strategy. Because, you know, in the end, and we know that code is moving so quickly in the software industry, six months later, a year later, usually, whatever you produce is outdated. And I realized this myself when I write code, that I was really proud of two years ago. And I look back and it’s completely worthless, because AI have grown a little, you know, my coding has gotten better. But B, also the solutions that I proposed that were really difficult problems at the time, they’re like, they’ve been solved millions of times now. So that’s just really fascinating with this whole Github repository where we download and upload our code. So we have this brain, this supercomputer brain of all the humans together already works on Github, right? And it’s quite amazing. And we also obviously see this now rolling out to different industries. When you look back into the social networks that have sprung up, they, they’re the opposite, right? They’re very close source and not very open with the users, but seeming that they have become extremely popular, right? So they have attracted the masses, they have 100 million users, I don’t know how many uniques they actually are, they’re the active uniques they have, but Twitter or Facebook, there’s an incredible amount of users. And I’m, I saw them happening, right? I’m here in Silicon Valley in 2007, I never realized this would be such a big deal. Why do you think they made it so big?

Bill Ottman: Well, they tapped into the venture capital nerve, and they were able to basically fund it until they made it. And, you know, they were first to market. So when you are the first, you know, really functional social networks coming onto the scene, that’s, it’s a big advantage. And I think that, look, I give them credit to a certain degree for pushing through and hitting the critical mass and, and being the first to really connect to the planet. I think that, you know, that takes a lot of hard work. They have great designers and developers who work at these companies, researching retention and growth and virality. And so, look, there’s a lot of great thinkers there. And so they did it because they worked hard and they studied the market and they knew what people wanted. And then, but they also use dirty tactics with their surveillance in order to grow. So, you know, they basically spy on people in order to grow. They target, you know, they extract contact information, they do all that kind of stuff. So it makes it harder for more, you know, companies focus on privacy to grow, because they’re not willing to use the same 30 tricks that, that the big networks used, we’re sort of relying on more word of mouth and, and sustainable campaigns. So, you know, but, but what I find interesting is that most of the mainstream apps are now all basically the same app. I mean, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, all, they’re the same app. I mean, essentially, they have slightly different features, but they all have group chat, they all have feeds, they all have, you know, comments, it’s, it’s the same thing. So it’s coalescing where the humanity has almost sort of decided on the functionality that it likes. That’s why we have a lot of those features. You know, our unique characteristic is that we have this whole like monetization feature and this whole crypto feature, and we’re trying to decentralize the infrastructure, which none of them are. So yeah, I think that we learned a lot from Web 2, but Web 3 is sort of flipping Web 2 on its head, but taking what was valuable from it.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, one part that a lot of, a lot of researchers would seem very valuable, deemed very valuable, is the whole engagement algorithm, right? It’s the way that they, that Facebook, I think started with this 2013, they said, we don’t really care about how many followers subscribers you have, what we’re really worried about is how we see engagement happening for one particular item, and then if it is above a certain criteria, we start propagating it to users, to your friends, basically, and then it goes through the whole social graph. And it was very, it’s very limited, but it can measure, right? So there’s only likes, there’s comments, there’s very small user base, how long you look at the small amount of data that you actually have, but they started changing that, and they, it’s being credited as a way to, like a, like a, like a global voting machine, right? So be wrote on whatever is interesting, and that pops up to the, to the homepage of whatever you’re reading, your feed, right? And that seems to have been adopted now by everyone more or less, and TikTok seems to go all the way out there, right? So followers don’t even count anymore, it only matters how you, you know, viral your video is. But on the other hand, we’ve also seen that it, it, it bubbles up content that seems, and it, it makes, gives people a lens on content that’s really strange, right? It’s not the reality. And the question is still out there, I think, is a, can it, can there be a better engagement algorithm? A, and B, do you feel it is, it is an experiment worth taking over? We are messing with people’s you’re messing with people’s reality too much.

Bill Ottman: Oh, absolutely. I think that they have invaded your newsfeed to a malicious degree, where essentially what you are seeing is what they want you to see. It’s what, you know, it’s, it’s how it is what they know they can best manipulate you with and get you to engage with. And, you know, I’m not anti algorithm or anything like that for promoting popular content and whatnot, but I, I, you know, the stance that we’ve taken is and on the newsfeed, it is still reverse chronological in the discovery feeds, you know, we’ll do trending content. And, you know, I believe users should have the ability to turn on different algorithms that, you know, fit their taste. I think there’s a lot of potentially positive stuff you can do with algorithms to, you know, not necessarily even build echo chambers to break echo chambers. There’s, there’s a lot of interesting experimentation that is already being done. But when they force your feed, you know, they make it so you’re not seeing the people’s content that you follow. I mean, what is the point? That’s why we all signed up for those sites. And so if you built up a million followers on Facebook, suddenly you’re reaching 2% of them. I mean, that’s a, that’s a contract violation to me. I mean, the contract that everyone signed up for was I follow you, I see your stuff. Now, it’s, I mean, TikTok’s a little bit different because they did that from the beginning. And, but, but, you know, when people spend years building up an audience, and then suddenly that audience is like, you can’t even reach them. It’s just like, okay, this is, I don’t trust them at all. I mean, we per, you know, we had some huge pages on Facebook that in our early days, we would drive a lot of traffic from. But, you know, for, for independent creators, for independent brands, the most important thing is that you maintain access to your users and audience. If you have a middleman in between you and them, your business has a very high risk point, and we know that they will betray you again.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, I mean, I look at Facebook pages, I have 80 million subscribers or followers, and you get three likes on most of their posts. Unbelievable. They do 30 posts a day, and there’s really good content, right? It’s, it’s content that is unique and original, and it’s not crazy. It’s just, however, I don’t know how they build it of date, what they invested into this subscriber count, but it clearly is a lost investment, and you have to write it off completely. I think that’s true for most people who went with this idea on Facebook. And I feel the fraud too. I think that’s, that’s a real problem. When I see it from the other side of the Facebook side, I obviously see that it was probably easy to hack. It was easy to, to, to, what Facebook is interested in is spending a lot, or Twitter, a lot of, and you guys, a lot of time on the same platform, right? You want to keep that user as long as possible and extract money in terms of advertising revenue, right? So that the, I feel the incentives are very strong on the social networking side, on either social networking to keep the user within that ecosystem. And the question is, you know, how far are you willing to go? And obviously, Facebook and Twitter, they have a lot of venture capital to answer for, right? They pushed it all the way. But I think the, the business model is the same, right? Because it’s free content in the end.

Bill Ottman: Oh, I absolutely understand why they did it. They do know what you want to click on. And they do, they’ve proven this. They know how to alter your emotions. They know how to keep you hooked. But to me, you know, your newsfeed is, it’s not in its core function that different from like your email inbox. You know, your email inbox is some, you know, if your email provider, if Gmail suddenly started, which actually I’ve noticed that I don’t use them, but I, I’ve noticed that they have started to like kind of put certain things in there. But people would freak out. I mean, no one would accept that. Oh, Gmail’s just going to sort of decide how my inbox is ordered. No, you’re going to decide how your inbox is ordered, because that is your ground truth for your information and your, in your communications. So the fact that to me, the newsfeed is an important source of information for, for everyone who spends all their time kind of curating their own feed. And so what these companies have decided is we know better than you what you want. And that I just disagree. Facebook, no, no, no, you do not know more than me what I want to read. I want to read, I want full access and they don’t, they won’t give you full access. I mean, they, maybe they say that they’ll let you, you know, go back into subscription mode. But and again, you should have the option to tailor your feed the way that you want it. But when, you know, there, there are thousands of variables involved in their algorithms and behind the scenes, it’s not simply they’re feeding you what is most popular, what they think you’re going to engage with the most. They’re also hiding things that they don’t want you to see. So it’s not simply a, you know, there’s rewards for popular content. And then that goes to more people. It’s that if they deem these are blacklisted sites or whatnot, they will be hidden from reality.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, I find that interesting. There is, and I don’t know if you follow that, the case study of a daily wire, a daily wire is a conservative publisher, right? What they’ve actually have done, and there’s been quite a bit of controversy about that, that they have about 20 Facebook pages that have each about a million followers. And I think they inherited, they bought them, I don’t know where they got those from. And what they do, they basically push out the whatever they publish on to those news feeds. And apparently now have more engagements than anyone on Facebook, including CNN and everyone else. I don’t really know how that worked. But Facebook and Zuckerberg in person, realize this is something that they, they’re okay with, right? So it’s a strategy that’s very aggressive. So someone is obviously trying to to get enough engagement for these daily wire posts, a very conservative nature where you feel like Facebook would not allow those because they obviously have a left dating agenda. They always had, I feel. But they’ve gotten away with this. And when we look at other conservative accounts that didn’t make the cut, especially in the last two years, I always felt like, man, these accounts were pushing it a little too hard. Like, yes, they were banned for reasons that their hardcore conservative agenda, we had this with Alex Jones, definitely played a role. But I think they pushed whatever they can, they can to hack the algorithm in the first place. And maybe that’s what annoyed Facebook. What I, what I felt is that there was, especially in 2020, and maybe that’s just the way I look at news, there was a big debate that conservative media was, was having a hard time on most social media. And they ascribed it to, and I, I’m still surprised by this, because all of these organizations are heavily left leaning. And of course, they look at stuff that doesn’t really vibe with the ideology of most employees. They of course look at it in, they try to push them off as much as they can. Let’s put it this way, right? It’s not, it’s not, they are enforcing their own rules slightly different, depending on the content and who’s on the other side. And I was always surprised that they would, they have waited so long to push people off, they didn’t like on the platform, right? So, I was surprised by this, but it seemed like most of the US public was very surprised by that fact.

Bill Ottman: Yeah, look, I mean, there are, there are always going to be exceptions. So, you know, the daily wire, if you’re saying that their reach is, is very high right now, I think that I’m not necessarily surprised by that, you know, the, I’m sure there are people at Facebook who fight for them behind the scenes. And, you know, I think a lot of people, a lot of people hate and a lot of people love Ben Shapiro. And, you know, maybe somehow the daily wire is their argument that they’re not being biased, which they, which they like to have. So, you know, I’m, I don’t subscribe to that Facebook only targets conservatives. I mean, they, they typically target anti authoritarian groups across the spectrum. I mean, they, I know, I know far left publications who are, you know, anti war who were banned. I know, you know, they banned a bunch of anti fire accounts, they banned, I mean, censorship will always come for you at the end of the day, if you call for it. So, you know, Facebook’s terms are very restrictive. And, you know, that’s really where my beef is, because their terms, essentially what they’re doing to the internet, they are creating chaos on the internet. That’s what the policies of all of these social media companies are doing. By not having a First Amendment based policy at such a critical mass, I don’t necessarily think that every single social network needs to have a First Amendment based policy. But when you’re that big, I think that you kind of need to be taking more of a common carrier approach. And, you know, when they ban someone like Alex Jones, that just polarizes the world more. And it doesn’t even cause, you know, you can’t hide the information. People are still getting as much Alex Jones as they want. And, but when you ban, especially extremists on both sides, that causes them to, in many cases, get violent. There’s a number of studies documenting this, showing that censorship exacerbates violence and extremism. So, you know, they would say, oh, this is our policy because we care about a safe community. But actually, they’re creating a less safe internet.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, I think what they are not really spending out is that even say, the accounts they ban is probably 1% of their audience. They don’t really need this 1% because there’s no advertising money in that area anyways. Otherwise, they would keep those accounts, right? So, they really make a capitalist assertion, do we make money with this account or not? And how does it reflect back to the rest of our advertisers? And I think the vast majority of content on Facebook, even if there’s a lot of extremes, it’s fluff, right? So, it’s personal content. And this is what, in the end, they want it so safe that every advertiser is fine with this. Yes, there’s a few on the fringes, but they don’t really need them for the advertising model. And I think this is what they’re really concerned about. They don’t feel like they need to be close to the first amendment, right? They don’t feel they’re in this government position or they hope they are not that big that they have been put into this position, right? They feel like we need this little enterprise, we have this little startup and we need to make money for our investors, which I think they should, right? Which is the capitalist role they should play.

Bill Ottman: But I don’t necessarily buy that, you know, I think that if you position it right, a first amendment policy can put you in it, a hand to make a position to make more money. I mean, you know, banning Donald Trump, like, that’s definitely a major financial hit that they’re taking. And yes, they’re weighing the cost benefit of all the bad press that they’re going to get if they let them back on, because, you know, the other social networks aren’t doing it. And it’s this big PR game. But that’s just, it’s not, it is not a reliable communication infrastructure for the planet. It is a exploitive network that is just preying upon its users. And it’s just not something that I care to give an ounce more of my energy ever again. And that’s why I don’t, I don’t participate in these networks anymore, because you don’t need to, you know, I get better reach on mines than I ever did on, on Facebook. It’s, and I know that it’s a real, it’s reliable, like humanity needs to be thinking about open source decentralized encrypted infrastructure going into the future. That is, that’s it. If the platform doesn’t check those three boxes, then it’s not sustainable. And, you know, it can be used, but it’s not what is going to represent the future of humanity. That’s why we’re seeing crypto take off so organically, because it, it spreads itself. The software is so good and beneficial to users that it doesn’t need a marketing department. It just spreads.

Yeah, I agree with you. I mean, this is the future, right? So maybe the model that you guys have adopted is clearly superior, but you still need the users, right? You need to wait until all these users have migrated. In terms of users that are really eager to come on mines right now, what do you, what do you feel are those the ones that have all got banned and who come to mines and to gap? Where do you recruit most of your users right now? To be honest, we don’t, we don’t do much marketing. We haven’t yet. You know, maybe in the future, we will. It’s, it’s very grassroots. You know, we, yeah, we do get people who are disillusioned with big tech, like sure, some people who have been banned, but that’s a, that’s a minority. You know, we had a surge of like half a million users from Thailand when there was a big scandal of surveillance and censorship between the Thai government and Twitter. Same with Vietnam and Facebook, you know, very grassroots activist movements around the world where citizens are eager for free speech. You know, in the U S we sort of live in this bubble where journalists are calling for censorship, but what they don’t really realize is that how tone deaf that comes off to journalists around the world who are living in authoritarian regimes where they are used to their government actually censoring them. So yeah, I mean, we’ve had that, you know, we had big surge of growth when the NSA spying scandals came out back in like, I want to say like 2014, 2015 with Snowden. Every time there’s a big censorship event for sure. But also anytime there’s a scandal in general, like during Cambridge Analytica at Facebook, we saw a huge surge. So it’s just like scandal, surge, scandal, surge. That’s, that’s how it works. Yeah. Gap was, I think reporting that in January that they had 500,000 users coming on the platform in a week. So when it was really hard, right? So when, when Parley was banned for, I’m not sure if they’re still banned or they’re still banned, probably in the app store. I think they got led back on the app store. Then it’s such a joke, I felt, you know, AWS and everyone was literally conspiring against them for a couple of weeks and then they let them back on. Well, I think they did have to, you know, I’m pretty sure Parler implemented some pretty heinous surveillance software in their app to start detecting certain types of content. And they’ve made a lot of compromises. So, but again, you know, I obviously am very against what happened to them, but, you know, Parler is not open source. They’re non encrypted. I don’t see anything unique coming from them technologically. It’s just sort of like a right wing Twitter. And, you know, they do have a free speech policy generally, not completely, which I think is, is, is a good thing. But, you know, I just don’t, to me, polarizing is just the wrong answer. And I think both of those networks, Gab and Parler have sort of fallen into the strategy of, you know, ride the divide. They basically know that they can further polarize and attract those disenfranchised users when, you know, for us, we’re not willing to do that. It’s very important to, you know, people will still say that we’re, you know, we have more right wingers. I sort of reject that. But we, you know, are very focused on not polarizing our community. We’re not going to politicize. We’re not going to come out, you know, as the company and take any political stances. That’s just not a sustainable thing for a network to do. And it’s not who we are. Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s, you know, like the Switzerland of social media. I like that. When you, when you talk about crypto, how do you, how does your back end look like? I know this is something that Parler had to do and Gab had to spend a couple of years ago. They had to move all their servers into basically their own data center. They had to rent a warehouse and they had to deal with the internet connectivity and the backup power. But they don’t use any crypto. What’s your back end look like? Or what do you have actual servers? Yeah, we do. We have both sort of centralized and decentralized components. But with our back end, we just made a breakthrough in terms of a multicloud Kubernetes clustering system on both. So we have like our back end exists on multiple cloud providers simultaneously. So even if one of them decides that they don’t want us, it literally would not matter at all. As long as the cloud platform supports Kubernetes and Terraform, we can sort of coexist in all of them. And that’s with Cassandra, which is our sort of Cassandra is a decentralized database. It’s not like it’s not a peer to peer database, but it is able to exist in multiple clouds. So that’s a major benefit that we have, which I am almost positive that none of those sites use Cassandra. You can’t achieve that with like my SQL. I’m not sure which ones you can achieve it with it completely. But so we have that, which is a big deal. And then we, you know, our whole token system runs on Ethereum. So that’s obviously decentralized. We have a optional decentralized content storage system that users can post to, which is called Rweave, which is a blockchain, but specifically focused on storage. So we built a microservice that interacts with them so that users can post to both our servers and Rweave. And that’s been really great. We have the whole Web 3 infrastructure so that users can like connect with their MetaMask or crypto wallet. And that is starting to become like a decentralized identity layer in the internet. If you visit a lot of DeFi or Ethereum dApps, you can just sign in with your crypto wallet. You don’t need anything more than that. And I think that’s a really powerful foundation if you control your keys. And so we also have that we also just implemented the matrix protocol, which is a end to end encrypted decentralized messaging infrastructure, which is federated. So nodes can actually talk to each other. So the mines matrix node can talk to many other matrix nodes. And, you know, so you can federate with other rooms, you can you can join chat rooms on other servers. So our whole chat system is decentralized now, which is which is a huge benefit. And, you know, we’re just going piece by piece, trying to we’re looking at IPFS now for more decentralized hosting. And yeah, it’s, you know, a social network has many functions. So it’s like, there’s not just going to be one back end infrastructure, which necessarily solves every problem. It’s like puzzling together something for video and something for identity and something for the content and, you know, DNS and all these different pieces. Yeah, yeah, I was just reading about paper and that’s, I think 70 years old now. And it’s about the infrastructure of Facebook. And Facebook obviously didn’t want any decentralization. But what they did, and I found that stunning, they literally have still won my sequel database and lots of memcache and lots of PHP and web servers. And that’s how they ran the whole thing until 2015. It’s obviously extremely deep. They know everything about that infrastructure, they go down into the specifics in that white paper. But it’s an infrastructure that you would not expect. Well, I didn’t expect I knew they use those, but they use just this, like this is their whole stack. And that’s what they scaled up with. I’m pretty sure Facebook user Cassandra now. They probably changed it by now. Yeah, of course. But I was amazed that they use some old school technology to such a big global level. A lot of people are talking about moving the whole software company, including, you know, front end and user interaction to the blockchain. Is that something that’s feasible? Have you looked into this, like including your web servers? Well, it’s like the blockchain, you know, it’s sort of like what there’s different blockchains for different purposes. Like as I mentioned, our weave is a blockchain, which is more suited for content. But like Ethereum itself is not suited for content. Neither is Bitcoin. Those are more transactional ledgers. And, you know, there are some sort of novel things being done, but it’s, it’s not what they’re built for. There’s, you know, IPFS, I think, is really interesting, because, you know, now that we have the web three crypto wallets, you can essentially associate your crypto address with IPFS, and then we can back up all of the content users content on IPFS, which is fully decentralized. It’s not a blockchain. It’s a file system. Yeah, it’s a file system, interplanetary file system. I recommend people look into that. So, you know, there’s, there’s tools that are decentralized that are better for social networks than blockchains. Blockchains are good for, you know, tipping and that kind of thing. Not, not, I mean, it’s, but again, it depends on the blockchain. I think there are blockchains like, you know, Filecoin is out there and there’s, there’s different tools for different use cases. It’s not, but it’s not putting social network on the blockchain. It’s putting a social network on a variety of decentralized tools, including some blockchains. Yeah, well, like, like an AWS for with run by startup, like a file system and like, you know, like an EC2 and all these services that they introduce that are very centralized and nobody knows how they work really. Then you can speculate about it. And I had Jeff Baugh on who’s a chief evangelist and he’s like, well, we don’t really want people to know to an extent, right? It’s closed source by definition because it’s our competitive advantage. But maybe there is someone who, who builds like a cloud based on block blockchain and that obviously would fit your business model very well. But that’s, yeah, there are, I mean, there’s a project called storage, which is trying to do like an S3 competitor. There’s a bunch of projects that are that are going after that. There’s DFINITY, which just came out. There’s IPFS, there’s our weave, there’s, there’s a number of options. So, but, but again, you know, I think that central databases are, you know, they have their place. It’s not, I, I think it’s centralization and decentralization, you know, you want a balance and for, for certain functions, it’s okay to use centralized databases. It’s just depends on what you’re trying to do. I mean, so yeah, I try not to polarize the situation too much there as well, because there’s amazing innovation happening on centralized databases as well. Yeah. One thing that obviously when I’m asking, Chris, I’m kind of concerned that you, you don’t, you don’t get shut down, you know, when the next power shutdown wave comes around. And I hope you guys are still excluded. And I hope you have the ability to do that. One thing that I think a lot of people struggle with and I don’t know if you’ve thought about this is a content moderation policy. So we always moderate content, right? So there is this ISIS propaganda we had that that was always being taken down. Nobody worried about that. There’s always a fringe part of that you just can’t have anywhere. How do you, how do you deal with this right now? Yeah. So we have a pretty robust content moderation system and report function. And we actually built a jury system for our appeals process. So, you know, right now we have a report function similar to other networks where, you know, if you see terrorist material, then you can report it and it’ll get taken down because often, oftentimes, most times that’s illegal. But we’re in, we want to bring the jury into all of the processes so that when consensus is reached on a report, then like the users can actually be involved in that decision making. So that’s more decentralized governance. And yeah, but I mean, yeah, we have lots of, we have multiple moderators community who help us find stuff like that. So I think people maybe get the wrong idea when, you know, they hear just, just because it’s a free speech social network doesn’t mean that there are, are no boundaries. Yeah. Well, I think nobody really thought about that. We are, we always, we lived in these bubbles and we were not really exposed to this debate for so long, right? I studied law on those where, you know, the limits of free speech were well set. And we didn’t have a lot of changes like the precedents had been set. And nobody really worried about it because it was outside our reality. Now, suddenly these things shifted so much in the last five years. I think that’s why this debate, a lot of hit a lot of people, you know, without any preparation, they don’t know what the legal standard is or why we have a legal standard where it came from, what were the examples we had before because everything changed so quickly, especially the last two years. One thing that, that changed a lot and has escaped a lot of momentum is QAnon, right? It’s this, this movement that originally came out as 4chan and then 8chan and those were message boards completely anonymous. There’s no logins required or even encouraged as far as I know. And they, they came up with some really cookie new conspiracy theories that kind of, they drew a little bit from Alex Jones, they drew a little bit from what Donald Trump was saying. They, they had a really unique mesh. And at some point, when I watched the documentary, it was HPL1. That could be, I think it was Netflix and it was about at this two parts. And I think they said 15% of all Americans, strongly or to a good, are relatively convinced that QAnon is real. Like it’s this messenger Q who has these revelations. It’s a bit like, like Jesus Christ, right? So it’s a large percentage of their population. So how many of those have shown up on mine? So are you being taken over QAnon? No, no, no, I mean, you know, see a handful of posts, but you know, that’s a, it’s a conspiracy theory little group. And I don’t know what to say. I mean, if they’re threatening violence or, you know, doing anything illegal, then yeah, they need to be treated like everybody else. So I don’t, you know, the thing about conspiracy theories is that if you, if you ban them, then you are guaranteed to grow that movement. You know, of course QAnon people think that their ideas are valid, validated when they get banned from big tech. Oh, you know, big, big tech’s in on it. You know, we’re now validated because we’ve, we’ve been disenfranchised. So yeah, I mean, look, network topology is not that complicated. If you ban massive groups from mainstream social media, those groups go and search alternative social network, we come up. So do a number of others, you know, free speech, social network. But the thing is that free speech traditionally has not been a political issue. People like Noam Chomsky on the left, Glenn Greenwald, these types of people, they know that you cannot, free speech is the foundation of everything. Without free speech, we have nothing, and everything crumbles apart. And eventually, you know, you end up getting silenced because it just snowballs on itself when you start silencing people. So I just, you know, I just, you know, there are other ways to address propaganda and misinformation than banning it. Yeah, well, it’s all about the definitions, right? What is, what, what is actually a fringe? What should be banned? What is, what is, what is, I mean, again, that’s why I hope this whole debate fringe is just a word, you know, you could call, there’s so many great thinkers throughout history who would, who were burned at the stake for what they were saying, you know, fringe, you know, sometimes it’s, it’s crazy, absolutely. And sometimes it’s completely just lunatics. Other times fringe is exactly what you need to evolve. I mean, most breakthroughs, scientific breakthroughs, you know, these people were called crazy immediately. So, you know, you want to ban, when you ban all the crazy people, you will end up banning a percentage of brilliant people. So that’s just a fact of history. It’s, we’ve seen it time and time again. And it’s happening now. But again, this is the problem. A lot of the, a lot of the actual lunatics, you know, are being reinforced through this process. So, you know, in terms of definitions, the First Amendment, the US, I think, does the best job with free speech law. And, you know, that’s why we are in the position that we’re in. And there’s tons of precedent to work with in terms of what defines incitement of violence. What, but, but, you know, specifically the US does not have hate speech laws. And, you know, no one likes hate speech, but even places like the ACLU have admitted that, you know, you can fight hate speech with more speech. So, I don’t know. This philosophy is being attacked right now. And I, but I don’t think it’s going to be able to survive. I think a lot of the people who think that they’re sort of these moral crusaders calling for censorship are just ultimately going to be embarrassed. Yeah. Well, I, you know, I grew up in Eastern Germany. I know you can’t ban people forever. So these, the amount of, the, the, the largest amount of freedom you can provide to people will increase their own productivity the most. And sooner or later, you’re just far behind. And you can keep it up for 10, 20, maybe 30 years. But if you don’t allow the maximum amount of freedom possible, you, you’re stuck in the past. You’re stuck in something that’s in the past, maybe well regulated, everyone’s happy, but everyone’s also poor. And sooner or later, you’re very poor compared to everyone around you who has more freedom. So the most freedom you can afford. And obviously there need to be limits. And then you’re back to, okay, what are the limits? But if, if we reduce freedom, and that also includes diversity and a freedom of any kinds of thoughts and also action as much as we possibly can. I think that’s the, the, you look again, again, in the human history, this is where geniuses come from. And these geniuses come from these fringes, as you just said, right? But nobody knew that, but like Nietzsche, right? Nietzsche for wherever he was considered an idiot and sometimes a crazy person. And then he was that 100 years later, he was considered that philosopher to read, which was really optimal. I would have surprised him too. So, well, it’s very similar to what you were saying about closed source software, like it gets left behind. When you limit access to information, innovation takes a hit. So, you know, the same would apply for the freedoms of a society. So, you know, and yeah, there, there are tradeoffs and there are things that you need to be cognizant of to, to not, you know, because within free societies, bad ideas can take root. But, you know, I think that we have the evidence of history. So I, I, I don’t think that there’s suddenly going to be some new, you know, more strict version of the First Amendment that suddenly becomes like a more battle tested framework for speech. It’s just, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. If anything, it would have to be a new, a new system of law, which is more free. That would be good for innovation, right? But the problem is a little bit that we are now battling on a very different layer. We were not prepared. So when Locke thought about that, and when the original founding fathers thought about it, these were all ideas they put into the government as a, you know, they knew this from Britain, that the government would come down on them and put them in prison. That’s not, it’s kind of lost its relevance a little, because we have this mega monopoly type companies out there who are not necessarily bound by those. Right. Constitutionally, but basically have the same power. And obviously they’re being hijacked, so to speak, but people who, well, they, they don’t have the same amount of openness, or you don’t think the same amount of openness is historically warranted and gives you the better future. I think this is all we’re struggling about. What is the better future? Is this in utopia where we are more limited in certain areas, but have more freedom than others? Or do we have, I don’t decide if we have more freedom and thoughts and speech, and that gives us a better future. I think it’s a good debate. It’s a useful debate to have. The question is, is this debate, does it even matter? Because these companies do whatever they can, right? Unless we force them not to, and it does seem like that’s a really good idea. I’m not holding my breath that they’re going to change. I personally think that if one of the big tech companies change their policy, pivoted to First Amendment, that that would actually be the best business decision that will cause one of them to break into the lead by far. I think it would be a great, I don’t, but I also don’t necessarily think that they should be forced because that arguably violates free speech, but this is really the debate that’s going on in the U.S. right now. Like we saw just Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas come out recently and say that he sort of endorses the common carrier approach. Like once you reach a certain, like 100 million users or something like that, that things change and that you should start to be treated as more of a utility. I think that that does make sense. But everyone can switch from Facebook to Mines. That’s what I’m seeing with energy. It’s not feasible. I can’t switch to 15 other providers here. It just can’t because there’s only PG&E where I live. But with social media, this makes no sense to me because everyone could go to Mines some more and could have exactly what we want, the full freedom. But some people haven’t done, made this transition yet and that’s the perplexing thing to me. So it’s a short term. I’m happy with Facebook. My limb big brain is entertained. In this long term, we’re all better off with more speech. I think most of us realize this, but somehow it doesn’t really translate into actions yet. It will eventually. Yeah, I think it’s starting to. And that’s why I’m not necessarily an advocate of like heavy regulation and forcing. I do think that the market is in the process of making this decision. This is why we’re seeing over 100 million people using Bitcoin. This is why we’re seeing what’s happening in the crypto market happen. This is why Brave Browser is doing extremely well. This is why DuckDuckGo, the privacy search engine is growing. This is why we’re growing. This is why this is why others in the space are growing. You know, it’s not on the scale of like hundreds of millions yet. But to be honest, 100 million people in Bitcoin, that’s a lot. So, you know, that that’s in typically the people who are interested in Bitcoin or people who are interested in these ideas in general. So I think it’s happening. I think over the next five years, we’re actually, we are going to see an alternative break into the mainstream. Yeah, I agree with you. It’s going to happen. I think what really happened, what really happened in 2020, this whole controversy brought out these facts about what’s actually going on with social media. I didn’t know five years ago, right? I could have figured it out, but I was too lazy, right? I was ignorant. But now it’s bubbled into a wider scale of society. And another thing I wanted to talk to you about is, and I had this in a similar topic with Thomas Power, and we were kind of debating, and he was on that position, you know, there’s COVID and we were, we all put these multiple layers of technology, mostly social networks in between us. And he said, well, that’s a temporary thing. And in the end, what we want is a real deep connection to someone or to a lot of people, possibly, obviously, in where we have a deep trust. But the opposite seems to happen, not just with COVID, I think that’s predating COVID, is that we put layers and layers and layers and whatever we want to do, there’s a new app and that puts literally the profile, the avatar in front of our eyes, but the person moves further and further away. And you can see there’s most cities, nobody talks to anyone anymore. So it’s it’s an unwritten law if you talk to someone, then you’re a crazy person. Do you think that’s going to continue or we will go back, especially when we come out of COVID, and actually talk to people anymore, because that’s a good thing? Yeah, I think that we will talk to people again. I think that it’s not, it’s not easy, though. I mean, COVID has has caused a total disruption to social norms and how people behave in public. But I think it was, I think today, actually, the CDC suddenly said that you don’t need to wear masks outside if you’re vaccinated. So that’s today’s version of truth. We’ll see what tomorrow’s is. But people crave human connection. I think that apps actually are in a position to help facilitate human connection. That’s one of the things I like about dating apps is that, you know, their primary purpose is to bring people together in real life. And, you know, there’s this one dating app that has a slogan, I forgot which one, but it has a slogan, you know, the app designed to be deleted, which I think is a great slogan. And it, it can facilitate amazing connections, I know from experience. And so I think more big apps could be focusing on that. We’re launching a whole live event series, and I do want to build more functionality into the app to help people connect offline. So, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s going to take time for things to get back to normal. And, you know, at the same time, technology is going to continue to, it’s going to keep separating us and bringing us together simultaneously as we go into the future. You know, simultaneously, we’re going to have people sitting in their VR goggles for, you know, five day benders and, you know, seeing nobody. And then at this, you know, other people will use it and, you know, go meet someone that they fall in love with and marry. So it’s, it’s shades of gray. Yeah. Yeah, that’s very wise. I, I, I do feel that there is this, this push towards we want to see because we, we always want to find better matches for us, right, better, better abilities or more commonalities with someone else in, in, and that’s not necessarily just a dating thing. That’s just what we look for people who are a bit like us or, or in need of what we can offer, right? On the other hand, as a personality profile or as a professional area. So that you ideally want to talk to all nine billion people before you find that one person, you know, that’s in a dating market, that’s going to be your mate, or that’s going to be your employer, because that’s the best fit for you when you don’t know that before. Oh, exactly. Yeah. Dating and, and recruiting is same thing. It’s just connecting people for different or meetup or whatever purpose. It’s, it’s, it’s more of a, a tool to connect based on common interests and skills. What I’m trying to say is I can’t physically evaluate nine billion other people if they are good fit for me, right? Or if they say we can say a hundred million different companies I could potentially work for. But my digital avatar, my digital consciousness, so to speak, right now, it’s just a profile and some information, but it could easily be something more interactive in the next couple of years that, that avatar could go out to 200 million companies and have like a little recruiting document with their recruiting meeting with that, with their AI. And then we could find out if that what’s the best fit, right? I could narrow it down from 200 million to 50 or 20 or whatever that I can put a human decision to. And I think this is a human desire that will go on. And what I’m trying to say is we will see more layers and layers of technology for this in order to get to these big numbers. Ideally, we want to talk to the whole universe before we make a decision, right? That would be the best case scenario, which we can’t do without brains or our physical appearance. Absolutely. Yeah. And, you know, look, it’s not always about that. I think that there’s a spontaneity offline, which is sort of irreplaceable. And, but yeah, I mean, look, the internet is the central nervous system or brain of whatever metaphor you want to make for, you know, what it is of humanity, but it’s it’s an extension of us now. And it’s helping bring recommendations to it. And we just need to make sure that the the engine behind those recommendations is acting in the benefit of humanity. And because you can still give great recommendations without screwing over the users, it’s it is possible. It’s not like we have to exist in this world where, you know, ethical technology is incapable of producing similar effects. So it’s just it’s more of the lazy way out. I think we need to be more innovative and understand, you know, building better consent mechanisms into all the suggestions and and all that. And look, we’re going to get there. I mean, we just saw Apple, you know, in Apple, I’m no fan of, but they just, you know, put through a pretty serious change to their app store policy where apps, you know, aren’t allowed to just spy on everybody. I can’t believe this feature even existed. I know, yeah, that that literally any app that you have installed, and I didn’t know that like would check what you’re doing on Lyft, and they would get that data by default. I was I was always amazed the amount of data and all the obviously the GPS data we they kind of Apple put a reminder for that in. But all the other information like Facebook has an SDK that’s in 40, 50% of all published apps more in Google Play than an Apple sort. But this is you don’t even know it’s there and they collect all your data and they share all your data. So you have a unique identifier that leads back to you more or less, even if you don’t have a Facebook account, you’ve never been on Facebook, you’re fully tracked absolutely. This is the most important thing to need to realize is that, and as your particular I’m speaking to app builders, it is not okay to just be using these SDKs. We need to make it socially unacceptable to to use those APIs. And, you know, your job is going to be a little bit harder. But, you know, your users are going to appreciate you more. And you’re also then not going to be locked in five years down the road, when Facebook or Google want to change their API. And suddenly, you know, your whole app, you know, breaks because of something that they did. So there’s multiple benefits to your business for, you know, not relying on those tools. But we’ve made the decision. We’re just, you know, we don’t have any third party tracking tools in our code. You know, we have 100% score when you go the brave, the cool thing about the brave browser is that you can, you know, kind of get this score of every site that you visit when you click on the little lion. And yeah, we’ve, we’ve, yeah, it’s cool. There’s if you click on the line, you can see like how many, how many items are blocked because by default, brave will will block the invasive stuff. Yeah, I didn’t know that’s that’s quite cool. When you, when you look into the future a little bit, I think we touched on that earlier. What will, what do you think will the landscape look like in 10 years from now? We still have a similar kind of social network that we’re used to now it’s the feed you, you exemplified that earlier, and it will be with more open platforms. Is that the future or is there something really big coming that you might already know? I think that we’re going to see new players enter the space who have tech that respects your freedom better, and they’re going to start to saturate. And we’re also going to see the big players make changes. You know, I don’t think that we live in a world where Facebook and Twitter and Google are going to like become MySpace. I think we’re too deep. So they, as you mentioned, you know, 30% of apps have these SDKs. MySpace never had that. MySpace was never powering, you know, half of the apps. They, they were, you know, their own silo. So these mainstream social networks are are much more embedded into society than anything in the past. So, but like, like you’re seeing with Apple, you know, they made this change. Social pressure, I think, over time will force them to change more. I think that what we do know is that big tech caves to, you know, you know, social and political pressure pretty, pretty easily. So if the users can start to get more vocal, I think that they, they will change. But, you know, because the funny ironic part of this is that the left and the right both hate Facebook. Everybody does. But first, you know, I think everybody hates the surveillance across the political spectrum. But then you have people on the left who are calling for more censorship against like misinformation and, and, you know, hate speech. And then people on the right who are taking more of the free speech approach. However, there, you know, there are exceptions to both of those rules. And, you know, there are people on the left who support free speech and people on the right who support censorship. But everybody’s pissed about the surveillance. So that’s a funny thing that we did. We don’t talk about enough that everybody kind of agrees on. And the killer, the kicker is with that. We’ve realized this for a couple of years now, like some earlier than later, you much earlier than everyone else would take some off of these things to come out. But we’re still using Facebook. Like I do. And I know how bad it is. But I still, I still use Twitter and I know how bad it is. And it makes me feel bad many times. But I don’t know if it’s addictive scenario, because in the end, I need to reach people, right? We are all in the people business. And we want to reach people. And so the draw to go to the place and that’s the winner takes it all internet approach. We need to reach people. So if the people are there, we have to deal with the surveillance. I would be interested to run an experiment with you. Have you ever tried deactivating Facebook even for a period of time? Yeah, yeah, for like a year or so. Okay, so I would be curious, because I think that this is the position that many people are in, where they’re afraid to go because they don’t want to lose contact with the people that they think that they’re reaching. But what they don’t realize is that, you know, for someone trying to say get a podcast out there, get more eyeballs on and get more listens. A lot of times, you know, we have actually proven that with small to medium size brands that they can get more reach on minds than Facebook and Twitter. Because even though we’re a fraction of the size, you can actually reach people because we have this whole token reward system where you earn tokens and one token actually is worth 1000 views. So you can boost your posts with your tokens for more views. And this acts as an amazing marketing tool for for brands. So I would it would be interesting to do an experiment where we AB test, you know, minds versus your podcast on Facebook. And I would bet that we can get better reach, you could get better reach on minds. And so it’s just ripping off the bandaid. I mean, I have, you know, once you delete it, we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna do this. We never did anything. We have an account that we never did any marketing. Yeah, let’s look, I expect that we need to be competitive and we need to be able to win that test. So, you know, maybe we can do a followup podcast in a few months and see and see how the results are. Yeah, I like that. I like that. That’s a really good idea. Well, I learned so much. I’m really looking forward to our next podcast. Thanks for taking the time. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it. Yep. Same here, same here. Finally, and definitely feel free to hit me up. Anyone who’s listening at slash ottman ottman. Okay, Bill, take it easy. Talk soon. Bye bye.

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