This week’s publication focuses on a familiar type of platform that maybe each person with internet access has used at least once. Social networks are platforms where people can connect with each other. More than just connecting, they can also share information about themselves like their interests, beliefs, hobbies, and whatnot. This information can be viewed by other people, organizations, and companies within the platform.
While base functionality is the same, Decentralized Social Networks operate on decentralized and independent servers which allows its users to manage the information they share back and forth. Moreover, they also do not have a central authority processing and mandating regulations within the network. Each function, feature, and code of a decentralized social network is transparent and open-sourced for each potential user to see. This gives its users control over the network rather than having big corporations handling the information being shared, the management of the data, and rules and regulations. This also omits potential censorship that most social networks have. Over the last few years, looming issues of centralized social networks are being recognized by its users.
With the rise of social media, more and more data is uploaded and generated by its users. Each user has a digital footprint and persona that they build through time. The information can be used in a variety of ways.
At face value, the concept of social networking seems like a harmless endeavour of sharing and connecting. However,personal data and information can also be used to understand consumer behaviors which advertisers and big companies leverage on to target consumers and customers. Industries such as ecommerce, public elections, and research driven companies leverage this information to maximize their profits and desired outcomes.
Social networks that are centralized in nature can also dictate their platforms' data sharing and censorship rules. This can be evident in social networking platforms that are state-run such as China’s Weibo, Douyin, and WeChat to name a few. This can also be evident in the popular Western social networks such as Facebook and Instagram wherein they have censorship for specific topics like Covid-19 and content that may be sensitive for underaged audiences. This feature is a double-edged sword since users have no say in what kind of content should and should not be shared. Moreover, these regulations can change depending on the social network’s owners based on their discretion.
The issues outlined above are being addressed by the up and coming decentralized social networks. Several projects have already started work on creating a decentralized social network of users. Coindesk, a popular blockchain and cryptocurrency publication, says that Social Networks are the Next Big Decentralized Opportunity. This is due to the fact that social networks such as Facebook are getting a lot of flak due to allegations on misinformation and misuse of user data. Decentralization aims to address these issues.
If you are looking for a decentralized social network to join, here are some characteristics to look for:
Here are some projects that are currently being at the forefront of decentralized social networking:
At the end of the day, users are clamoring for a social network that provides quality content that is helpful to everyone while having the ability to decide how these networks function. Decentralized Social Networks are geared to address such clamor. We are very hopeful that within the coming months, we will see the adoption of decentralized social networks.