March 19, 2018
Nowadays, Social Media is everywhere. Social media platforms have taken over users’ lives in a huge way in more than a decade now, serving as an entry point for connection, content engagements and social interaction for many people. Here are some figures of social networks in 2017. (1)
Most of the social media platforms are free and the saying goes that if the product is free then there are high chances that you are the product. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks give you untethered access to their platforms, all in exchange for something valuable – insights into your behaviors, preferences, habits, connections, location, and content, than we are seeing today. Log into any social media site and you will be met with “targeted” advertising and marketing campaigns.
Most of the drawbacks of social media stem from the fact that actual control is centralized on the platform owner, even if the content and activity come from its users.
Users who took social media seriously and produced quality content discovered that all their hard work was consumed by the platform itself, leaving them with no financial gain, and just a few million likes and a moment of fame as compensation. Content on social media became the stepping stone to massive financial gain for the platform rather than the creator.
What’s more, information on social media that had been intended to be private has been made public to governments, advertising companies, and more, making users far less willing to share intimate details of life. Potential violations of privacy abound, with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and the rest being willing to change the order of feed, link users with advertisers, and make information more transparent than users might like.
In other words, social media is losing its edge.
Blockchain is the technology behind the recent media darling Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency built on the decentralized platform. A decentralized database, or decentralized ledger, blockchain technology creates new ‘blocks’ for information that is being stored or processed. For a new block of information to be stored, it must be approved by the entire chain, meaning that the chain is completely ‘decentralized’ and therefore secure and transparent.
As Ian Khan, one of the TEDX speakers, puts it, “No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.” (2)
Blockchain can transform social media more than we think. With better control over content, improved security, freedom of speech, the potential for crowdfunding, etc; Blockchain really verify superiority in the social media.
A blockchain-based approach to social networking addresses this by establishing a decentralized approach to connectivity. By getting rid of the central server, there is no single entity that can enforce such monitoring and controls over user-generated content.
If aggregated analytics and user targeting are not bad enough, social networks like Facebook are even being accused of eavesdropping on users through smartphone microphones. For most people, this might not be a concern, but for those who are paranoid about their privacy, then the most viable option is to not join social networks at all. However, social networks still have their merits, in terms of business networking, collaboration, and exchange of ideas. Here, we can again highlight the decentralized nature of the blockchain, which ensures privacy and security through a distributed consensus mechanism.
For those in repressive regimes or where censorship is an issue, a blockchain-based approach to social networking offers the benefits of secure authentication whilst still ensuring anonymity. Even with messaging services like iMessage, WhatsApp, and others, having end-to-end encryption, the problem lies with the meta-data that gets exchanged with the messages, which leave digital breadcrumbs that third parties can pick up. Thus, even if eavesdroppers do not know the contents of a message, they can determine where it came from, who it is addressed to, and other such details.
Obsidian messenger uses Stratis-based blockchain and the system stores data in a decentralized system and the data is not used for analytics and advertising. Besides, it uses an end-to-end encryption with a 256 Bit encryption algorithm to encrypt all information, including messages, files, pictures, videos and payments. (3)
Nexus is a Blockchain-based approach that seeks to decentralize many of the operations including social media. Founder Jade Mulholland has said they aim to “eliminate all invasion of privacy that large corporations are currently performing.” Secure authentication and anonymity is very helpful for those in repressive regimes or where censorship is an issue. (4)
Indorse is the equivalent of LinkedIn on top of Ethereum blockchain but with its economy own and currency. You can create your own content and own all rights, build your profiles and connections, and get paid for your contributions. Non-blockchain-based social media own rights for user content and do not compensate users for their contributions; instead, they even charge users for running ads on the channels users help them build up and spending that money to record every single keystroke users make. No wonder many are opting out of their social media accounts, opting for a single account, or no social media at all, with more evidence coming up about how social media affects psychological well-being. These social media platforms have their problems that blockchain might solve. (5)
As the heyday for legacy social media begins to wane, these companies, and others like them, are seeing the great potential of blockchain technology to revitalize it. Blockchain promises to move foundational social media to an entirely different level, and has the power to reinvent the very nature of how content and information is privately and profitably distributed.
Infinity Blockchain Labs (IBL) is a visionary R&D company engaged in intermediary and RegTech services employing blockchain technology. We focus on forming alliances with established businesses and regulatory institutions across various industries, as well as providing collaborative incubation for early stage blockchain projects. We aspire to empower Vietnam to become a global leader in blockchain.
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Contact: Nicole Nguyen PR@blockchainlabs.asia