What is Blockchain Social Media? How is it Different from Facebook?
A quick walk-through
Every time you try to wrap your head around Blockchain, the definition might be putting you off – "distributed, decentralized, public ledger." Phew! Well now, when it's found its way into social media, a place where we dwell most of the time, it's worthwhile knowing how it may affect us.
Centralized Social Media
We breathe social media. We foster relationships, form groups, and keep in touch with the virtual world every moment. We share cat videos, our fears, our aspirations, and our life out there. Enormous data is collected by platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But how safe is your private data?
What is Decentralized Social Media?
After the bull-run of Bitcoin in 2017, many developers thought of creating Blockchain-based applications for mass users apart from crypto-users. Social media caught their attention.
Decentralized Social Media leverages distributed Blockchain technology. A vast network of participating equipotent computing machines store user data, or individual transactions between users in a P2P (Peer to Peer) distributed design. So, data is not logged at a particular identifiable location. The entire Blockchain spectrum stores it.
Currently, Every big social-media platform stores user data in a centralized fashion. Dedicated servers at designated data-centers store all the data. Centralized data has its nuances:
• Data is the most valuable asset today. The social media owners own your data on a social platform. So, Facebook determines who gets access to the data stored on Facebook servers – that may be App developers or advertisers.
• Advertisers treat user data as products. Information is gathered and analyzed to sell targeted advertisements. Modern advertising algorithms are well equipped even to change the way you think politically or socially. None of the popular platforms charge you a penny to use their services. But that's the catch – nothing comes for free. You trade your data in exchange.
• Centralized databases are vulnerable and can be easily compromised. Most of us are aware of what happened with Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, 2018. It faced strong allegations of unethical conduct. The most-loved social platform even had to deal with the delete-Facebook (#deletefacebook) movement. Facebook is not the sole victim. In 2016, LeakedSource claimed more than 32.8 Twitter credentials were hacked and sold over the dark web. Data privacy is a primary concern among users. And it should be so.
Rise of Decentralized Social Platforms
Blockchain grabbed eye-balls of various social media thought leaders and for a good reason. Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that Facebook is investigating ways to fit Blockchain into Facebook. They are studying examples of Blockchain social networks.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter is backing a team of researchers to build an open-source Blockchain standard for social media. The new standard then will have Twitter as a client. The process might take years, but the first step matters.
At the same time, several decentralized alternatives to social networks have cropped up. Single authorities don't own them, and they don't have any shareholders as a result. The data stored is untraceable and hack-proof. Some of the top names are –
Steemit – is a blockchain-based social media website that pays its users STEEM (cryptocurrency) for publishing valuable content. It's one of the leaders in this arena. Steemit allows users to post, comment, and retain total control over their content. Blockchain developers built the platform at Steemit Inc. New York. You can buy STEEM coins from cryptocurrency exchanges.
Diaspora – has millions of users. Distributed servers or 'pods' are independently run and store all the data. The platform is free to use, and personal information is not mandatory to share while signing up. Users have full control over their data and what they share.
Empow – focuses on all types of videos, interactive images, and GIFs. One can create posts, pages, videos, and interact with other content over the platform. Empow runs on EM tokens – native currency. EM tokens are rewarded to content creators. More tokens allow users to run ads on Empow or exchange the same for hard cash.
All.me – combines social media with a revenue generator. The social media component is more like Instagram, where users post images. The distributed marketplace allows you to buy or sell products in exchange for ME tokens (native cryptocurrency). Users are allowed to make money on the platform through advertising. You can make purchases within the platform or transfer tokens to external wallets.
The popularity of traditional social media platforms has grown exponentially due to their entertainment and marketing component. However, privacy breaches are raising data security concerns by the day.
On the other hand, Blockchain distributed networks offer a logical solution to data privacy issues. Users are in total control of the data and can exercise their actual freedom of expression. Most platforms even provide ways to earn money.
That said – regulations do make sense at times. Freedom, as we know, can very well be misused. Uncensored platforms can become breeding grounds for criminal activities. The prospects of every new technology are manifold. But, we as users are responsible for actualizing the benefits rather than harm ourselves.
How Can Decentralized Social Media Help?
Distributed Social media platforms inherit all the talked-about Blockchain features.
• Blockchain-based social network has no single authority. Nobody owns the technology. So, CEOs don't make the rules here – people are in total control. It's more like a democracy. The 'society' designates the platform rules. Whatever is socially acceptable becomes the norm – consensus rules.
• User data is encrypted and stored with absolute anonymity – to the extent that if you lose your cryptographic keys (used for authentication and authorization), you won't get your account back.
• Blockchain is hack-proof. As long as you don't share your cryptographic keys, your data is untraceable. Nobody tampers your data anymore. Your next financial transaction is completely anonymous. Advertisers only have access to your randomly generated cryptographic address, and they have no clue how to extract something meaningful out of that.
• You can make money by adding valuable content online. Blockchain social network introduced tradeable tokens or coins. You have to purchase these tokens at the outset, or at the beginning, free tokens may be provided. The more you add value to the social network, the more coins you earn. Exchange mechanisms are in place to convert these tokens into real cash.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Subhadeep