Decentralizing is the latest internet trend that fuels the web3 concept. So here is one of the essential things of the future internet – decentralized social media.
We are about to enter a totally new era of internet development called web3.
It seems like most of today’s biggest web-developing companies are a little bit skeptical about the web3.
But the general concept is to provide internet users with more power over the data they share and the platforms they use.
One of the most popular ways to do it today is decentralizing.
Widely adopted as the basis of cryptocurrencies and any type of digital transactions, blockchain today get more and more appliances.
Earlier we went through decentralized messaging. Now it’s time to look a bit wider and dive into decentralized social media.
What is decentralized social media?
Decentralized social media, also known as blockchain-based social media, refers to social media platforms powered by distributed ledger technologies like blockchain or DAG.
Unlike centralized networks owned by such companies as Facebook or Twitter, blockchain-based social media have no central authority to control or oversee them.
All the actions and the system run itself are irrevocably recorded on a decentralized protocol. But these records are more like encrypted transactions that provide users with anonymity and no censorship.
The developers’ role in blockchain-based social media is to provide guiding rules and maintain the network working.
Today there are some functioning decentralized social networks, but most of them are in their infancy. These projects obviously have some reasonable pros and cons, but let’s talk about it a bit later.
“The first key difference is that it [decentrilized social media] isn’t a standalone website that you can access — it is a network of hundreds of different communities who each own an instance of the code,” Medium writer Asmita Karanje explains. “Second, you can choose to be as public or private as you deem appropriate for your instance. You can connect with users on other instances and sometimes even cross-platforms”.
Moreover, a decentralized network structure gives the network managing process to the players. The idea is about each user can own, moderate, and govern themselves without depending on any intermediary. That means nobody can sell your personal data, but you are becoming responsible for the network operating.
How do these networks work?
Like traditional or centralized social media, decentralized media allows users to communicate virtually on a front-end platform.
But if the Facebook company controls all the data servers that run their networks, decentralized platforms go live on public blockchains. That means anyone can operate a node anywhere with having access to the back end, apps creating, a feed moderating, etc.
Mostly these blockchains are open-source, with the code and all the data stored directly on-chain.
For example, on 18 May Aave blockchain-company founder Stani Kulechov announced the Lens Protocol launch on the Polygon blockchain mainnet. The idea is to provide developers with possibilities to build their own decentralized social media networks in which users fully own their data.
Interestingly though the Lens Protocol launch comes weeks after Twitter suspended Kulechov for proclaiming himself ‘interim CEO of Twitter’.
“All [Web 3] innovation has been driven by the idea of ownership. Web 3 social ensures that users are in control of their content which makes the applications and algorithms compete on bringing the best experience layer to the users,” Aave Companies founder said.
The Aave-backed Lens Protocol deployed on Polygon allows users to create a profile in any app, taking that profile and their community of followers along with them to any app on the blockchain.
The apps inside the Protocol can be like whatever. Twitter-like content, business transactions, digitally monetizable alternatives to LinkedIn, Zoom, or Google Calendar, meetings conducting apps, virtual events host, staff members hiring, etc.
There can be marketplaces or video hostings inside such networks, artists can upload their musical clips to the platform, fans can listen to original compositions and mixes, curate libraries, repost, follow, like, and share content.
The most popular blockchain social media
There is an alternative for each of the big tech platforms available today. For instance:
- Facebook — Minds, Diaspora, MeWe
- YouTube — Minds, LBRY, D.Tube, PeerTube
- Reddit — Aether
- Twitter — Mastodon
- Instagram — Karma
- WhatsApp — Session
The other platforms like Subsocial are there to build social networks, allowing users to create profiles and customize personal ‘Spaces’. There are serverless public timelines, roles and permissions, user governance, moderation, Spaces for DAOs, and a treasury.
You can also find similar Uptrennd and Steem blockchain networks. But still, despite the massive potential, these blockchain-based social networks have not gained popularity, as of now.
Because of the huge lack of developers, moderators, and actual users, these decentralized media still have a long way to go before becoming mainstream. And making an equal alternative to their centralized counterparts is quite a questionable matter for them right now.
Most of these platforms are developing like subsidiaries inside the bigger blockchain projects. Such decentralized social media often have their tokens to monetize the platform and attract investors. But as we know a significant portion of such crypto projects is constantly flying away.
Decentralized social media pros and cons
The major positive features are privacy, freedom of speech, and decentralization. Creators can monetize their arts, which is by the way now possible on traditional centralized networks.
In theory, you can run a fully anonymous, user-backed, and independent network for communication, work, entertainment, or any other stuff.
But in fact, even basic blockchain protocol can be compromised. And lack of users’ expertise can make the network uncomfortable to use.
So speaking about its cons, there’s always the risk of a 51% attack in which a malicious actor could theoretically control over 50% of a network’s power. This would allow bad actors to edit data as they please, which would damage the integrity of the system.
A lack of moderators may also result in users posting inaccurate information or offensive content. And because of the blockchain nature, there is no way to delete such content. It can become attractive for any illegal activists or even terroristic organizations.
So comfy and safe decentralized social media is still far from perfect.
The key to mass adoption
Don’t forget the fact that centralized companies are also highly interested in entering the Web3. Facebook even kind of did it with their new Meta platform.
Some experts see centralized blockchain networks merging with different blockchain projects as one of the solutions to the Web3 independent social media.
Some traditional social networks are already incorporating blockchain technology and social finance (SocialFi) projects. This allows for using the influence of these centralized networks and getting direct monetary benefits from being influential figures on the new blockchain platforms.
“In Binance Smart Chain’s recently announced $500 million investment program, SocialFi has been mentioned as one of the main areas of interest. Solana Ventures also announced a $100 million funding for web3 social startups,” said Jayson Tan, founder of Torum, the world’s first social media platform that is specially designed to connect cryptocurrency users.
He believes that it is quite a challenge to convince a significant portion of the population to adopt emerging technology. So different SocialFi initiatives could be the key to blockchain social media mass adoption.
Finally, at the end of 2021, the venture capital firm Paradigm announced what could be the largest crypto fund ever. Paradigm managers claimed $2.5 billion in funding for Web3 and crypto startups. It’s surely a sign that the venture capital market now recognizes the potential of blockchain and Web3.
BTW, do you believe in it?
Don’t answer. Google might eavesdrop on us.
Sources: Coindesk, Coinmarketcap, Cointelegraph, Medium, NASDAQ