Twitter is building a crypto team

Remember when Twitter dropped NFTs and enabled Bitcoin tips? Given that founder and CEO Jack Dorsey’s Twitter bio is literally just “#bitcoin,” it’s not surprising that Twitter is interested in cryptocurrency and other decentralized technologies. Today, Twitter said that it’s formally launching a crypto team, which will aim to be “a center of excellence for all things blockchain and web3,” the company told TechCrunch.

To start, this team will explore crypto payments (Bitcoin tips, crypto payments for Ticketed Spaces), opportunities for creator monetization (NFT tooling) and decentralizing social media (part of the general movement toward Web3). According to a Twitter thread from Tess Rinearson, the engineer tapped to lead the team, Twitter Crypto wants to “help push the boundaries of what’s possible with identity, community, ownership and more.”

Though crypto payments and NFT galleries are the lowest hanging fruit in the short term, this move marks a broader push by Twitter toward decentralizing social media, which would allow networks to run independently on the blockchain, rather than on servers hosted by businesses, like Amazon Web Services (AWS). The idea is that these decentralized networks will give individual users more say over their data and privacy. Still, some researchers worry about how these decentralized systems would reckon with questions of content moderation, especially as it pertains to extremist political content.

Twitter Crypto will work closely with a nascent Twitter-sponsored initiative called bluesky, which aims to build an “open decentralized standard for social media.” In the same way that no one bank controls cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, there would be no one social network that would control the bluesky protocol, even though its development is driven by Twitter.

Twitter isn’t the only major social platform exploring blockchain technology. Just this week, Discord’s founder and CEO Jason Citron implied in a tweet that Discord is working on an integration with MetaMask, a popular crypto wallet service. Meanwhile, Reddit is hiring engineers for an NFT platform.