Social networking apps have become the preferred entry point for content and engagement in the past decade, but there has been a growing concern about centralized platforms versus decentralized, blockchain-based social media. Traditional social media sites have many down sides which include the sharing of personal information to third parties, a lack of privacy, and sometimes the censorship or shut down one’s account. The latest trend in social media, decentralization and blockchain-based social media apps is making the internet a safer place by tackling these challenges.
Challenges faced by Social Networking Apps
The biggest drawback of traditional social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter is that user data is centralized and the platform owner has access to all content and activity of users. Your content is subject to censorship, shadow banning, and your account can be shut down by the central authority.
This is where blockchain-based smart contracts can be introduced and run on platforms like Ethereum and NEO. Blockchain technology has features like decentralization, increased security, accessibility, and transparency. These features will help social media apps tackle existing challenges and scale faster than ever before. A few social media networking apps include Sociall, formerly Nexus, Steemit, Peepeth, and Whaleshares.
The user is the product
Traditional, free-to-use social media applications is content-driven but really, the user is the main “product”. While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like have vast user data, they sell this aggregated information to third party clients. This information then becomes analyzed and processed into targeted advertising and marketing campaigns for each user.
Though Facebook’s Terms of Service state that “you own all of the content and information you post on Facebook,” the truth is that Facebook also says that it uses gathered information for targeted advertising and driving customer engagement. What does this mean? It means you’ve basically given permission for their algorithms to intimately know your search and share patterns, what kind of content you prefer and target you for their marketing schemes. You do not have any control on these existing social media platforms – and you have no control over what data they’re using once you sign in and play on their site.
Taking back control of your content identity
In brief, the beauty of a decentralized network is that not any one server malfunction will cause the site to go off line. There is no single corporate entity farming your information or scanning your online habits to create targeted marketing schemes. As a content creator, you own your material, you are solely responsible to maintaining your security (private keys), and you also have to work a little harder to build an audience to share your content.
Blockchain technology enables the creation and time stamp of social media content. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the user is no longer farmed for content, but actually the creator and purveyor of their information.
This might imply that users’ content is no longer used for analytics and advertising. Perhaps you don’t have the benefit of Google analytics so the big question is: Why would a content creator risk jumping onto a decentralized, blockchain-based platform? Because your content is saved on an immutable ledger which timestamps your original content for copyright purposes. Because most decentralized platforms have a native crypto token that you can earn or gift on the platform. Because you consider the safety and ownership of your content greater than letting big corporate entities like Google and Facebook own you.
What’s in it for businesses?
Another question to ask is: Why would a company launch a decentralized social network when there is no incentive and no access to user data for selling it to clients?
The answer: Blockchain-based networks often have a native cryptocurrency or token that is burnt as fuel for completing transactions within the network. This cryptocurrency can be paid as an incentive to users running nodes and acts as a financial reward for the company.
Decentralized blockchain applications provide better security infrastructure compared to centralized social networking applications. Blockchain networks ensure privacy through a distributed consensus mechanism. By decentralizing and encrypting all data and uploads, such networks eliminate the possibility of a hack or invasion.
P2P Payment solutions
The social networking apps mentioned at the beginning of this article have built-in transfer and reward mechanisms that nurtures a gift economy on top of the ability to earn. Products and services can easily be bought and sold without the middle man.
Facebook is trying to branch out into the blockchain-based social media platform with the launch of Libra and their crypto wallet Calibra. It aims to provide an easy P2P payment solution to its 2.5 Billion users across the world. Their biggest challenge comes from a loss of trust that their privacy issues will not be solved, but the sheer amount of people who would have automatic access to their network could be the vehicle that mainstreams cryptocurrency.
The use of smart contracts allows for safe, cryptographically-signed and executed contracts that are approved and signed by the decentralized network, and stamped permanently on the blockchain. Beyond micro-payments and gifting for content creators, this technology can actually be expanded into other industries beyond social media platforms.
The increasing popularity of blockchain-based social media networks, but there is definitely push back from the traditional sites and businesses who use them. The ease of advertising and tapping into your information becomes much tougher. Businesses have to pivot hard to find advertising solutions to gain your attention and your dollars. A decentralized approach ensures privacy, built-in infrastructure, a P2P option, and an ever-increasing amount of new features to social networking platforms that are not available to traditional social media site users. Blockchain-based social media is the solution to the data and privacy crisis of 2019.