What is a Decentralized Social Network? - Warpgate Ventures • Blockchain Venture Studio
What is a Decentralized Social Network?
James F.

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.

What is wrong with today’s social networks?

You are the product

User Data & Information

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.

  • Connecting with family and friends
  • Career progression
  • Availing of goods & services

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.

Centralized social networks are also data processors who manage users personal data. Since most centralized social networks are free for its users, they need to find a way to monetize and earn a profit. This in turn, allows them to set terms of use that is favorable to their profitability. They have the ability to utilize each user's data to their advantage and benefit. They also may create and run an algorithm that is not transparent to its users. Lastly, since they store and process the data of their users, this makes it attractive to hackers who would want to steal user data to be sold.

On Data Sharing & Censorship

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 Decentralized Social Network Landscape:

Centralized vs Decentralized

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:

  • Open-sourced Code
  • Decentralized Control Democratic Decision
  • Transparent Algorithms
  • Quality Content

Here are some projects that are currently being at the forefront of decentralized social networking:

  • https://joinmastodon.org/ - A community-owned and ad-free decentralized social network that is free, open-sourced, and self-hosted. Share links, photos, text, and videos without worry.
  • https://basicattentiontoken.org/ - For advertisers and creators, BAT incentivizes its users who create great content and allows advertisers to know their effectiveness without violating user privacy.
  • https://www.thetatoken.org/ - Theta is a next generation video sharing and streaming platform built for its users. Viewers can directly send THETA tokens to the content creators who stream and create content.
  • https://steemit.com/ - Steemit is a social media platform reminiscent of Reddit. Users have the ability to share information that can be upvoted through tips.
  • https://about.voice.com/ - Voice is a social platform where users can create digital arts across all formats – visual, written, audio and video – enabling them to be easily bought and sold as unique digital artifacts (NFTs).
  • https://bitclout.com/ - Bitclout creates a token based on your favorite personality, content creator, or influencer. These tokens can be bought and sold within the Bitclout ecosystem.

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.

The future of the web will be decentralized.
Warpgate Ventures is a blockchain venture studio that builds and invests in projects geared towards the decentralized web.
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