Why Facebook’s Next Competitor Will Pay You to Post

Say hello to blockchain powered social media platforms.

Social media has been the pedestal to propel our ambitions forward, it hasn’t come without its setbacks as well. The alarming rate at which we can share content online has spawned what seems like an endless batch of cookie cutter creators.

Myspace birthed SouljaBoy, Facebook produced Humans of New York, YouTube gave space to Marques Brownlee, Vine begot Logan Paul, and Instagram brought into view Cardi B.

When one unique thing happens, a thousand replicas follow in its steps to capitalize on the stardom, but mostly the money that’s involved. Social media gave light to individuals and in turn stripped us of individualism.

Because social media has become a Business of Attention, every brand and corporation has flocked to social media for marketing purposes. Facebook, and others, have allowed this to cloud the initial purpose of actually connecting and being informed.

This year marked a huge inflection point for social media. Between the data-misuse fiascos at Facebook and YouTube censoring accounts that go against a certain viewpoint, social media is feeling the repercussions of their shady actions.

Bill Gates succinctly phrased the period of time we’re experiencing:

The “honeymoon period of tech” has now come to an end.
— Bill Gates

The skepticism of popular tech companies is a driving force. Coupled with the explosion of cryptocurrencies over the past 12 months we now have the makings of a new experience:

Social Media on the Blockchain

Today’s social media is centralized. Each company controls what posts are promoted and what accounts can stay active. By decentralizing social media, you grant this power of policing to the community of users. This community-led policing is based on the blockchain reward system.

People who share content of higher quality are rewarded more — either monetarily or with influence — so that higher quality content continues to perpetuate the feeds. This is unlike a Facebook, where the algorithms are designed to maximize clicks and thus advertising profits. A social media on the blockchain relies on the community of users to deem which content is original, useful, and truthful — thus the community decides which content rises in people’s feeds.

The reward system holds everyone accountable. Because if you (as a user) like a news article that turns out to be fake, your influence will be docked. Meaning that your actions won’t hold as much weight. In other words, the cream rises to the top. Trustworthy creators, posters, and users will find their actions going further because the community deemed them worthy.

The idea of letting a community hold the content experience accountable sounds idealistic. However, it’s a concept that exists and thrives elsewhere on the Internet.

Reddit, for instance, has over 1.2 million communities that operate on this principle of “community-led policing”. Users gain Karma every time their posts are upvoted and lose Karma every time their posts are downvoted. The more Karma you have, the further your actions will go. Granted this model has prevented Reddit from turning into a half-trillion dollar social network like Facebook. However, people go to Reddit to get informed and entertained in a trustworthy way.

Wikipedia is another great use case. When it launched 17 years ago, their pages were short, information was skewed, and you’d be hard pressed to find what you needed. As more and more historians, scholars, and everyday people began adding content to the pages, their information became more trustworthy and encompassing. The community held each other and the information accountable.

Essentially, decentralized social media will go through the same transformation. Today, the small community of users may scramble to police the community. A decade from now when their communities number in the tens or hundreds of millions, the network effects will take charge and we’ll see them transform into informative, entertaining, and honest places.

When we look at the growing landscape of social medias on the blockchain, Steem is one that particularly stands out. Since June of 2016, they’ve paid approximately $40,154,371 to their community contributors. They’re doing a great job encouraging independent creators to join their growing ecosystem and I believe they’re just a few years away from really making a run at the major social media networks.