Social-Media Disruptor Project Liberty to Run on Polkadot’s Blockchain Network

The partnership follows on from former L.A. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt earmarking $100 million last year to disrupt incumbent-dominated social media.

AccessTimeIconMay 24, 2022 at 9:10 a.m. UTC
Updated May 24, 2022 at 1:10 p.m. UTC

Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

Project Liberty, the initiative backed by real estate billionaire Frank McCourt aimed at disrupting today’s social media platforms, has found a home on Polkadot, the framework of parallel blockchains conceived by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood.

Last year, McCourt, a former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, earmarked $100 million to attack the existing structure of social media, which he says is dogged by problems around data privacy and user manipulation that can’t be tackled by regulation.

The solution, in his opinion: an open-source, publicly owned infrastructure called the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) to center the internet around people instead of giant data-harvesting platforms.

In fact, the idea of a core internet protocol for identity, networking and messaging – much as HTTPS underlies the web – has been something of an elusive aspiration since the early days of social networking, when people began to see problems arise, said Braxton Woodham, the creator of DSNP.

Still, a commercial implementation is needed to operate the system, Woodham said, in the same way HTTPS requires a web server.

“We started last year and looked deeply at over 30 different projects and ultimately concluded Polkadot has characteristics that make it particularly adaptable for social networking,” Woodham said in an interview. “We’re working with the Polkadot team at Parity Technologies designing for scale, latency and low cost volatility for messaging, which is essential for social networks. You don’t see that with other chains.”

A growing number of projects have chosen Polkadot’s parallel-but-connected blockchains, known as parachains, to build on. Coveted parachain slots have been allocated to projects backed by user communities through special auctions. Within Polkadot’s parachain ecosystem, there exists a category of projects designed for the common good, which might eventually include Project Liberty.

“Project Liberty will likely launch as a standard parachain, at least initially,” said Peter Mauric, head of public affairs at Parity Technologies. “There’s an opportunity for something like this, a very good service for everyone in the Polkadot ecosystem and Web 3 broadly, to be voted in by the community later as a common-good chain.”

Also further down the line, a token attached to Project Liberty is in the planning, Woodham said. Details will follow later this year.

“The token is important because messaging is a resource and a token will be used to manage stable bandwidth resources for messaging and social media that is scalable,” he said. “We think that’s going to be really unique in the blockchain space.”

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Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

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Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

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