Wikipedia co-founder, Larry Sanger, has said that social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are abusing their power and compromising user privacy and security. He criticized the social media companies of being too controlling and is an advocate of decentralized social media platforms.
Larry Sanger co-founded Wikipedia in 2001 and he is not impressed on how the Internet has evolved since then. “It’s appalling,” he said in an interview with CNBC. His main issue is with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. According to Sanger, these companies make profits off “massive violations” of user privacy and security. “They can shape your experience, control what you see and when you see it,” he said.
Sanger launched a social media strike in July to draw attention to social media’s violation of user’s privacy rights. In a recent blog post on his blog, he said these “vast digital empires” need to be replaced by decentralized networks. As of writing this post, his petition has 3000 signatures.
Sanger, also CIO of a blockchain encyclopedia network called Everipedia, is not the first to stand against the dominance of big tech companies. Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web, has also argued that companies need to take more action to protect consumers privacy and personal data.
Sanger believes that legislation won’t change how user privacy is compromised when it comes to big digital companies. He believes that a decentralized internet can and will help. Decentralized social networks would allow users to publish content online without having to go through a central organization, like Facebook.
In the same way that bitcoin is a “decentralized” asset not subject to authorities like central banks, decentralized social networks would mean no single platform could control users’ data online. The idea has support among privacy advocates but has a long way to go before becoming mainstream.
“A decentralized internet, a freer internet, that’s what led to the internet being created in the place,” Sanger said.