Decentralization will not solve all Internet issues
My little article here is not based on guessing or pure observation, rather things you can check and verify yourself on your surroundings by direct interaction with the network and others.
I try to make it short and list the major issues, that social media is going to fight with. Of course, is just one example which I use here in order to make people understand.
Downsides with decentralization
- Big players like Microsoft will walk in and dominate everything once they adopted or purchased multiple networks and systems. They have more money to advertise, aggressively expand and then improve and control the networks.
- Echo chambers. People will spread their ideology based on their own believes rather than rational evidence. Nazis will spread their ideas and cover it up under memes and freedom of speech. Which will result in Guild bans, user bans or exclusions from the Fediverse altogether. You have basically the same effect as centralized platforms, bans...
- People don't want to be exposed to content that dehumanizes them, argues for their extermination, or targets harassment against them. There are large swaths of the population who are targeted by the far right in this way. These targeted groups simply won't deliberately return to a site that consistently provides them that experience, there's simply no reason for them to. These large segments of the population will demand moderation from platforms they use to protect them from targeted harassment. It's these sorts of platforms that have the potential to truly become massive.
- Up and downvote manipulation. You can create much easier alt-accounts to upvote yourself or other stuff you want to see become more viral. Lemmy uses some sort of threshold but you can easily bypass it with Tor, VPN, Proxy etc. Other networks with harder verification levels such as Twitter are - overall, not impossible - to influence because they have a stronger moderation level + are harder to manipulate because you need more effort. I am not going to say that Twitter cannot be influenced, see the last election. But it requires more effort.
- People want to destroy everything in the world they don't agree with, including discourse itself. This problem is well-known for a while now and there are some solutions to this, but at the end of the day people create their own communities and we have the echo chamber effect once again.
- Moderation is the foundation of our discourse. You basically cannot have any conversation, that is popular without any moderation because due to above mentioned reasons some people always try to troll, influence the vote or bring off-topic arguments to discredit others to support their own point of view.
Other Opinions on this huge topic
- The promise and paradox of decentralization
- Decentralized Social Networks Sound Great. Too Bad They’ll Never Work
- Decentralization is Not Enough
- What You Need to Know About Decentralized Social Networks
How to fix the system
I do not think it is possible to fix ever single listed bullet point.
People will always use and spread - what others use - and suggest and there is less you can do. The more you demonize eg Facebook the more user it gets. This is simply the wrong approach, you need to ignore them and talk directly only about usable alternative networks and systems. Mention the benefit and establish a system that can be fixed afterwards with new ideas, implementations and critique based on community findings.
I think we need more time, find better standards and ground rules based on existent platforms to build networks that can be used for more than 10 years without having the effect that is loose all steam.