Decentralized Social Media: Why and How?
|— Social media and online networking are here – and they’re not going anywhere. But the model as we know it is changing. |
— There’s a massive power imbalance on social media.The platform holds most of the cards and users receive little control and ownership – even over their own content.
— Decentralized social media sets to combat such pitfalls by rewarding users for their attention and content.
— With blockchain and cryptocurrency in the picture, there’s the space to create secure, transparent, incentive driven networks.
We’re all social media users and most of us are aware of its pitfalls, but how is decentralized social media any different? it’s time to get facted.
Social media is undeniably popular. With digital platforms to share ideas, content and information, communities are built and individuals are given a space to have their voices heard in ways never experienced before. It’s an exciting, lucrative environment for content sharing and community building. This digital space is here. And it’s here to stay.
But the current model of Web 2 social media has some kinks that desperately need ironing out. In this article, we look at the problems and the potential solution by engaging with the thrilling idea of decentralized social platforms aka Web 3 social media.
The bittersweet model of social media as we know it
While social media bears the potential to connect individuals with similar interests, the way platforms are currently used have some glaring pitfalls.
Transparency? Never heard of it…
The problem is, when you say “yes” to the Ts and Cs when signing up to a platform, you’re not really sure what you’re agreeing to. That’s not a lack of reading from your side. It’s because the platform doesn’t really disclose how it uses your information.
Lack of platform transparency cripples the trust we, as end-users, might put in the platform. Poor transparency ultimately impacts the user’s digital rights.
Lack of ownership
The actual model doesn’t allow users to own or monetise their data, attention or media. You and I are basically feeding these platforms with a massive amount of free multimedia and information, without getting anything in return.
If you’re not paying, you’re the product
Social media thrives on taking your data and selling it to marketers, taking the algorithm and manipulating your experience. If you’re a business, you’re paying for the data. If you’re the user, it’s your data that’s getting sold on your behalf.
In other words, if you’re trying to gain any sort of audience on social media, you need to pay the big bucks for it. Social media marketing is a massive industry, with targeted and sponsored adverts circulating feeds and lurking in every corner. If you’re a business, you’re paying for it. If you’re a user, the free subscription comes at the cost of a flurry of ads. You aren’t rewarded for giving the attention you’re forced to give them.
Let’s call it as it is: it’s digital exploitation.
The puzzle piece to solve the problem
Where traditional social media falls short, there’s a better, more community-based model that can pick up the social baton and jump over the problem hurdles.
Enter stage left: Decentralized social media.
The beauty of decentralized social media is that, depending on the platform, they’re designed in the same way as other social media platforms. Posting content, sharing, collaborating, commenting, double-tapping and hashtagging to your heart’s content. But decentralized platforms provide additional components: a community-focused approach that promotes transparency, privacy and incentives.
Each platform operates a little differently and has a different approach to tackle the hurdles of centralized socials. So to explore the benefits, we’ll dig a little into a couple of decentralized platforms and how they’re set to change the game.
STEEMit has its focus on blogging and content publishing. It’s like a blockchain-based combination of Reddit and Medium and rewards users with its native cryptocurrency STEEM for publishing and engaging with content on the platform. And that’s precisely what sets STEEMit apart from its traditional counterparts. Users are financially rewarded for their upvotes and their content. Content develops its own ecosystem and a digital economy can be formed on the platform.
Aave’s new Twitter
Aave is another project that’s looking to break borders in social media. Recently, the founder of Aave chirped a response to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey saying that “Aave should build Twitter on Ethereum.” It came in response to Dorsey’s plans to build a blockchain-based Twitter.
While it might have come as a cheeky reply, the tweet holds its weight in future plans. Aave’s founder has confirmed that they are going to launch a decentralized platform that will act and operate like Twitter but will offer content creators the space to fully own and monetize their content.
For users, the opportunity is that the platform will be a part of the thriving ecosystem based on Ethereum’s blockchain, with plenty of potential to profit from the content without the platform raking in the revenue.
Decentralized social media – power to the people
The beauty of how decentralized platforms operate on the blockchain lies in what they can give to users, rather than what they aim to take from them. The core focus on community rests on taking a “power to the people” approach.
The result is transparency between those behind the scenes of the platform and the users. Information is shared, the system rewards content creation and attention. Instead of a hierarchy with the platform monopolizing monetization and capitalizing on user’s data, it’s a social simbiosis where everyone wins.
The future of community networks – sparking a social revolution
Decentralized social media isn’t a new thing, but it’s gaining traction. With more attention comes more funding, which gives the platforms and projects resources to grow.
As we see more networks growing out of decentralized roots, we’ll be looking at user-first social ecosystems that are based on individual data ownership. And what a rewarding (yes, literally) space that will be to be a part of.
So keep an eye on this space, a radical revolution of social media might just be on the horizon. If you want to dive deeper, we’ve got a school of block episode ready for you here!
If you’re wondering how decentralization can benefit you, check out our School of Block episode on decentralized finance – you’ll be hooked!