Why do we need Decentralized Social Media Platforms?

The Social Media: About Decentralization

Rajat Dangi 🛠️
Hapramp Studio

--

Source: steemit.com

The social media we use today has shaped the world around us,

or to say, it grew with us, would be more accurate.

We, the 90’s kids are among the early adopters of various social media platforms which started in the last decade.

The basic premise of social media didn’t change much in all these years.

We put our identity online, find people, interact, and share.

Although, tremendous competition in the field and the development of technology bought a lot of useful features and power to the social media.

By Definition,

Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks…

Some common features:

  1. Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications.
  2. User-generated content, such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions, is the lifeblood of social media.
  3. Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization.
  4. Social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals or groups.

Wikipedia

All this became possible because of development in the technology, accessibility to Internet, and computers/mobile phones.

As the various platforms grew, they turned synonymous to the community. We’ve platforms with billions of active users on them, then there are some relatively smaller social media catering to the needs of a specific niche.

The Imbalance

It gives you the power to be heard by the millions.

And it also gives enormous power to the people who run these platforms.

The Internet which started with the idea of giving people the power eventually brings us to a highly centralized system in terms of control and power.

At the invent of the Internet, everyone got a channel and the question became who gets heard.

And now it’s no more about who gets heard, but whose voice the authority choose to amplify and whose voice they choose to curb.

The system no longer runs on a democracy and people have a little say in it. The Algorithms and the authority make a decision on important topics like ownership and censorship of the content.

This imbalance in the distribution of power is what bothers us.

The current scenario on the Internet is more centralized than we know.

The giant Internet companies became the gatekeepers of the data, the traffic, and most importantly the content.

At the beginning, the Internet was truly decentralized. But as more people joined in, the requirements changed, and it was necessary to setup servers, rent data storage, and build centralized platforms including all the social media, search engines, marketplaces etc.

Part of the reason was technological limitation and part of the reason now is the power which ‘Data’ brings to these companies.

No one expected this a decade ago that the company holding most of the data and/or traffic on the internet would be drawing most of the benefits.

So, where’s the fire?

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” — Acton

We are not pointing fingers at anyone here.

But, centralization brings elements like censorship, ownership, algorithmic biases, and takes power away from the people.

People are tricked into thinking that with time the technology will develop resistance against these issues.

People are mistaken when they think that technology just automatically improves. It does not automatically improves. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better, and actually it will, I think, by itself degrade… — Elon Musk

Also, now we know that the data carries an intrinsic value if it’s useful.

The people who are investing their time and efforts in creating and sharing the content on these platforms must have the ownership of the content.

And if the platforms are called ‘social media’, they should run by the rules of democracy and not central authority and censorship.

There were technological in-capabilities in the past to tackle these issues. And today we have Decentralized applications leveraging the power of Blockchain Technology.

Centralization vs. Decentralization

In the beginning of this year, Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement on Facebook discussing how important it is to ensure that the technology decentralizes power.

…or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent… — Mart Zuckerberg

A part of the post says…

…For example, one of the most interesting questions in technology right now is about centralization vs decentralization. A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands… Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force.

But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it…

Next, I’ll go a bit technical to discuss Decentralized Applications and how leveraging Blockchain can solve the issues such as censorship, ownership, algorithmic biases, and establish democracy on a Social Media. So that it is more useful, valuable, and less frightening.

Decentralized Applications:

The applications which work in a decentralized fashion, that is, the data that they require/produce doesn’t need to be processed by a central server/entity, are called decentralized applications.

They don’t require a middleman to function or to manage a user’s information.

These types of applications are the prime feature of Web 3.0. According to the Ethereum White Paper, DApps are of three major types. Following is a brief explanation of each type of DApp.

  • Financial Applications
    These applications provide users with more powerful ways of managing and entering into contracts using their money. This includes sub-currencies, financial derivatives, hedging contracts, savings wallets, bills, and ultimately even some classes of full-scale employment contracts.
  • Semi-Financial Applications
    These are the applications where money is involved but there is also a heavy non-monetary side to what is being done; a perfect example is self-enforcing bounties for solutions to computational problems. HapRamp falls into this category.
  • Non-Financial
    These are the applications which do not involve money at all but are useful as they have the powerful idea of decentralization and replication with them. Applications such as online voting and decentralized governance fall in this category. A good example of such application is the IPFS (https://ipfs.io/).

They are more flexible, transparent, resilient, and have a better-incentivized structure than current software models.

Blockchain Applications can be categorized into 4 types —

What is Decentralized Social Media? and How does it look like?

A Decentralized Social Media, built on a Blockchain is virtually owned by its users. A Decision to introduce new features in the Blockchain is taken by the consensus and not by a central authority.

For example, STEEM is an open source blockchain specifically developed for building social media platforms.

According to the STEEM Bluepaper

“Compared to other blockchains, Steem stands out as the first publicly accessible database for immutably stored content in the form of plain text, along with an in-built incentivization mechanism. This makes Steem a public publishing platform from which any Internet application may pull and share data while rewarding those who contribute the most valuable content.”

There are several services running on Steem.

Some of them are Steemit (An incentivized Blogging platform), DTube (A video sharing platform) etc.

Call to Action

HapRamp is a Blockchain based incentivized social media for the creative communities.

We are building it on top of the STEEM Blockchain.

Do visit HapRamp and join our early invite list, we’ll be launching soon.

If you found this story useful, please click the 👏 button and share to help others find it!

--

--