Imagine a Facebook where members would be able to weigh in on its operations, rules and algorithms. Shared governance that would result in a contribution from all members to maintain its business model. Because users of Facebook and other so-called « extractive » platforms that exploit personal data in exchange for seeming to be « free of charge », clearly measure the fact that they have very limited ability to act given the Terms and Conditions for using services.
Although to date no alternative has yet managed to shake Facebook, things could change with the proliferation of initiatives in areas as diverse as music or photography with Stocksy. Here, musicians and photographers control the platform, as co-owners. They pool their productions, jointly decide funding rules and involve members who are not mere consumers.
At the end of 2015, Nathan Schneider and Trebor Scholz, two American professors, published a manifesto on the new economy and organized the first conference in New York on platform cooperativism. Their motto: « The social economy deserves a solidarity Internet. » Their aim is to give meaning to informational assets generated by an economy based on sharing. Europe is not being left out, like in the case of the Peer-to-Peer Foundation, initiated by Michel Bauwens, that seeks to harness the energy of alternative project to prevailing models.
« Sharing value between all stakeholders is the precondition. The platform must enable measuring the contributions of every person and redistributing this value proportionately. This means that the platform cannot own the data. Its purpose is to circulate the data as best it can », says Julien Cantoni, an active member of the P2P Foundation, and former Financial Director of the publication which is currently leading a distribution project that is an alternative to Amazon.
The challenge: become a « fully trusted » third party.
These models no longer provide just a technical and functional service – they really take on the full role of a trusted third party able to nourish the community, apply the rules of governance, sanction if necessary and even be transparent about disputes among different stakeholders.