In recent times, online platforms like Facebook have usurped core aspects of what we expect from a public square. However, Facebook’s surveillance business model and engagement-at-all-costs algorithm is designed to promote commercial rather than civic objectives, creating a more divided and distorted public discourse.
This new public square will be underpinned by three pillars designed to serve democratic and community interests:
- Communities around existing content where the public can gather around topics of shared interest in a safe, respectful and surveillance-free environment.
- Community generated content where the public can create and share their own content and contribute to engaged communities of interest.
- Community input into government where the public can have meaningful exchange with government to better inform decisions that impact on them.
Addressing considerations around the technical, cultural, political, and operational elements of building this new network, this paper proposes what is feasibly needed to build such a public social platform.