Blockchain & Social Media: How is Blockchain Transforming Social Media?
Blockchain & Social Media: How is Blockchain transforming social media?
The arrival of bitcoin and cryptocurrency is changing the future of on online payments. But the network it’s built on – the blockchain – promises to bring with it more innovations through a decentralised database that cuts out the middleman in the exchange of information or currency.
Blockchain has been disrupting a number of industries from banking to healthcare, will social media be next?
What is the blockchain?
The blockchain is a decentralised public ledger that stores data across many computers, this can be anything from financial transactions to blogs or videos. The ledger keeps track of the intellectual property rights and ownership allowing content to be distributed in a fair way without a centralised third-party platform such as Facebook acting as the middleman.
Can blockchain solve the problem of compensating content creators?
While social media has paved the way for some influencers to monetise their content, especially by partnering with bigger brands on influencer marketing campaigns, not all content creators have been so lucky.
Why is it hard for content creators to monetize content?
- Some platforms do pay content creators, such as YouTube. They give creators money for ad revenue on their videos but it’s hard for publishers to acquire a large enough number of subscribers for this to be a viable income.
- According to Statista, 22% of adults in the UK now using ad blockers, which means ad-revenue is taking a hit.
- Donations to content creators are not a viable option due to the delay of processing payments and transaction fees.
- Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram make money off of publishers through ad revenue but don’t share their profits.
Blockchain technology offers a solution to this problem:
- Social platforms like Seemit use tokens so there are economic incentives for publishers to create content and drive growth of the platform.
- Token transactions are completed on the blockchain and are near instantaneous without any fees.
By giving users the option to pay for content they want to see, the users ultimately end up curating the site. This helps ensure that content creators put out high-quality content. While also giving them insight into what content their viewers want to see more of.
The Potential problem of social media policing
At the moment, social media platforms have control over the curation of content and anything uploaded has to adhere to their guidelines. They can also remove channels and take down content that creators have worked hard to build and put out, taking away their audience after they have helped generate money for the platform.
For example, in August 2018, Facebook, YouTube, Apple , Twitter and Spotify all banned radio show host and podcaster Alex Jones from their services. He had amassed 2.5 million subscribers and over 1 billion views on YouTube. Alex Jones was banned for hate speech and breaking community guidelines. Overnight, Alex lost his entire audience, and is now unable to reach them as he does not have access to the world’s largest distribution platforms.
Regardless of what your opinion is on the controversial figure, this example highlights the power social media platforms have over content creators. If they do something the platform disagrees with that they could see their content removed or their channel totally wiped out. Even influencers that have generated countless sums in ad revenue for these platforms can have their online presence snuffed out.
There’s an ongoing debate to whether social media sites should be policing the content on their site.
Dispatches revealed that some controversial and extremist Facebook pages have special protection when they break community guidelines due to their large followings. Some people feel that social media platforms should be a place for free speech, whilst others want to clamp down on potentially harmful content.
Blockchain technology, in theory, could remove this power from a particular company or social network to moderate and control content.
Combating fake news
Over the past year, one of the biggest problems social media platforms have faced is the spread of fake news. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that 59 percent of people were unsure what in the media is true. Nearly 70 percent said they worry about fake news being used as “a weapon.”
As blockchain is a secure database it can help tackle this problem. By tracing back data and quotes to their original sources we can see if they are true, have been used out of context or have come from a credible source. Tracing the facts shown in content back to their source means you can have confidence in the legitimacy of any articles or news you wish to share online.
Every piece of news can be told from a variety of completely different viewpoints, depending on the author and the views and values of the publication its published in.
Readers of content then have to choose whether they will settle with a narrow view of the story or if they will take more time to do further research looking at other trusted publications.
Projects like Redpen are now utilising blockchain technology so that users can track the bias of journalists by analysing their ‘digital pen.’ By reviewing all of their past content you can then see if they hold a particular set of views or bias. When reading their content you can take this into consideration.
Another huge problem that Facebook and Twitter are encountering is the rise of fake accounts and the people using these accounts to do mass promotion. A lot of these accounts have been linked to the spread of fake news and while Facebook is trying to improve its artificial intelligence to be able to spot fake accounts, blockchain could improve these efforts.
Blockchain can track identities that people use to create accounts so users have the assurance that their identity is not being stolen and that the person who has published the content is real.
Blockchain powered social networks
Blockchain powered social networks already exist and are growing in popularity. They might not quite be ready to scale to the masses yet but it’s definitely possible we could see this change in future.
Here are some social media platforms that are experimenting with blockchain technology:
- One of the larger blockchain social platforms.
- A social network that pays its community.
- Has an interface similar to reddit where users upvote content.
- Tokens are distributed to users on a daily basis as rewards, based on community voting.
- Their tokens (STEEM) are traded and easily converted to Bitcoin and Ethereum.
- An Italian start-up with a lot of Italian users – there is a lot of English language content as well.
- Users can post various types of content.
- Instead of getting Likes from other members like in Facebook they get Tips.
- Tips are given in Bitcoin, so creators producing high-quality content that other users enjoy get paid for it.
- Reveal is an “Ask Me Anything” social network where you can meet other users by asking and answering questions.
- Crypto token rewards are given out to encourage users to interact.
- Only available on iOS and not Android.
- Tokens are in the form of Reveal Coins which are not currently traded on any major crypto exchanges which could cause issues for user adoption.
At the moment, although these social platforms are growing, they have not generated massive user bases and still have some problems to overcome before they can get there.
While social giants like Instagram and Facebook don’t appear to be in any immediate danger, blockchain offers a solution to many of the industry’s problems. Social networks and blockchain coming together have the possibility for a better and more trusted experience for users and publishers combined.
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