Fortunately, there is another strategy. It’s privatization.
To build a better internet, you need to change how you own and organize your internet — Not aimed at making the market function better, but at reducing market problems. Privatization aims to create an internet that is dominated by people, not profits. This sounds like a protest chanting, but I literally mean it very much.
What will happen to a day on the non-privatized internet? You wake up, drink coffee, and sit in front of your computer. The first stop is a social media site run by a local library. Other users are your neighbors, your colleagues, or residents of your county. There is a news report on the upcoming local elections in the feed, published by the local public media center. In fact, much of the content on the site comes from public media sources.
This site is a cooperative. You and other users collectively manage it. Select the board for which you want to design a filtering algorithm and create a content moderation policy that determines what is displayed in your feed. Board decisions are carried out by local library employees who act as community caretakers to help classify information, curate, and add context.
This is in stark contrast to Facebook. Facebook’s ad-based business model needs to maximize user engagement to make a profit, making it a sensational advertising paradise that encourages clicks. Non-privatized social media can be optimized for a variety of goals.
Your site may be small, but it’s not isolated. Use the same basic principles as email to connect with other users and form a broader federation. (For example, Gmail and Yahoo Mail are separate services with different features, but users can still exchange messages.) Similarly, read posts and messages from users on other sites and networks around the world. Can be replaced. Community governance is local, but its scope is global. This is a self-organized cell within the wider range of the internet.
How about your data? You can be confident that your privacy is protected by clicking the links in the feed to go to other corners of the web. This is because the rights to personal data are retained by the co-owned Data Trust.
You and other members can determine the conditions under which the online service can access your data and create more data. For example, your trust may choose to ban the kind of thorough monitoring that is very essential to online advertising.