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    The web as it stands now is sufficient. Anyone can register a domain, host a website, and go for it. It’s already decentralized enough. That some people prefer to trust freedomeagleDOTjesus about microchips in vaccines over people with journalism degrees and a proven track record is going to happen regardless. People claiming news that disagrees with their worldview is fake and/or the product of a conspiracy is going to happen no matter how much evidence is provided to back it up.

    Decentralization can happen at centralized sites, however. Wikinews would be a prime example, but it requires volunteers who both (a) have access to the actual locations where news is happening and (b) the ability to fact-check others in the same boat. Joe Schmo Wikipedia user can’t get access to the White House Press pool. “Wikinews” might be able to, but there would need to be a community nomination process and volunteers who are willing and able to travel to DC (or wherever).

    In other words, you rapidly become dependent on a small cadre of people whom you have to decide to trust, or not to trust. Even the most decentralized news gathering is going to have a limit to where people can actually be to witness the news as it happens.

    For things like protests, riots, publicly-visible events, etc, you get cell-phone video. I could see a web-of-trust situation where people could sign video/audio/photos of such events with their key and via a web of trust people could see “verified” evidence of given events…but that’s complicated enough that the average user is going to end up just trusting some major root-of-trust and we’re back to square one.

    Removing anonymity from various platforms may or may not help solve the problem. The number of bots and foreign actors on social media stirring the pot and/or posting demonstrable falsehoods is immense. A decentralized platform isn’t going to solve that problem either. Verifying personhood and actual identity of posters would help but obviously that’s a privacy nightmare.

    At the end of the day, I’m becoming somewhat of a defeatist. I know too many otherwise intelligent people who believe the most bizarre and demonstrably false things (vaccine conspiracies, Obama is the literal Antichrist, COVID-19 is a hoax, global warming is a myth, there’s no evidence for evolution, the Earth is flat, etc) that I think it has nothing to do with misinformation at this point and everything to do with human nature….and that’s not going to change any time soon.

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      The easy spread of fake news is baked into the fabric of the internet. Distortive algorithms equate engagement with profit, prioritize clicks over facts, and lead to the promotion and production of emotionally charged content. In turn, this sharpens divisions, confirms biases, and ultimately leads to a never-ending battle over perceptions.

      It’s not like the root causes for this are going to dissapear once you decentralize things; people click on these kind of things because that’s what they want to read. I am not any better, by way way, although I’m at least vaguely aware and try to avoid it. It’s just human nature to find “here’s Alice’s story” more interesting than “a statistical analysis of the experience of all Alices”.

      Better insight would be a good idea for transparency and accountability, but I wouldn’t expect any serious changes on the spread of “fake news” – if anything, a truly decentral web might make it worse.

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        With all of what’s been happening, decentralized technologies might be getting a new light. I think it’s really hard to settle a line between a platform’s power over what users say and censorship. That’s always questionable and debatable and will always raise questions from all POVs.

        I think the decentralized technologies will play a relevant role in the future of the web and the web3: from the need to have more resilient platforms to avoid requiring to trust on a certain platform. A fully decentralized web would perhaps allow for an harder to censor web where all of us play an active role.

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          Mastadon has this problem where a lot (most?) of the users in the mastadon universe are on mastodon.social, so in a way there is some centralization in this decentralized platform. I can’t help but wonder if things will naturally gravitate towards centralization because there will always be inequalities in quality of service, advertising of federated instances of a service, or just who happens to set the thing up first. XMPP doesn’t seem to have this problem, but possibly because it has been around for ages. I can see this being a much larger problem for new platforms/services just starting out now…

          Also, LOL at the links next to the article to share the article on facebook, linkedin, and twitter.

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            Definitely, and user’s adoption is probably going to always be one of the hardest points of this kind of platforms because usually centralized services work better just as you said. However, I think some kinds of decentralized services might work best if they are used by many people which kind of creates a loop. One of my favorite decentralized social networks is Scuttlebutt which has an interesting concept: at first, you need to know someone or at least know some “pub” to invite you. From there, you start connecting to more and more people and pubs, working like an IRL social network. Unfortunately, the problem’s, once again, is arguably the quality and, above all, user adoption.