42. What is decentralized social media?
Let us not kid ourselves – social media are part of our everyday lives. They play an essential role in our lives and have revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with each other. More than half the world has access to social media. We experienced this ourselves during the last pandemic – social media showed then that it plays an influential role in many ways.
Unfortunately, most platforms – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram – have a centralized form. This leads to breaches of our data, crashes, censorship, and invasions of our privacy.
Take China, for example – a country where most of the internet and social media is heavily censored. They are even controlled by the government, which dictates to them what they think is correct representation.
The developers want to combat the above problems. That is why they are building decentralized social media platforms on decentralized networks. They want to hand over power over these platforms completely to the users and not to third parties who control them. Applications developed in this way can also address many of the bugs and shortcomings of traditional platforms.
In today’s lesson, we will talk about decentralized social media. After reading our post, you will understand why they play such an important role and have an impact on our immediate future.
Decentralized social media – definition
Decentralized social media are an alternative to the well-known, fully centralized platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. We mention only the most well-known ones here, but there are many more such platforms.
Decentralized media are open-source platforms based on the blockchain network. The servers on which they are built are completely independent. What does that mean? That no one has control over them – neither third parties nor large companies or governments. Instead, it is the users of the network who make all the decisions about its operation.
Crucial to all of this is blockchain technology, which carries all the power of decentralization. It is the blockchain that allows decentralized social media to be more transparent and independent of other people. It is thanks to the blockchain that decentralized social media platforms are available in the form of dApps. We have covered the topic of dApps in detail in this lesson [LINK-WHAT IS A DAPPS-DECENTRALIZED APPLICATION -A BEGINNING LEVEL]. These apps are immune to censorship, control, and interference by third parties.
Decentralized social media – how do they work?
I’m sure you’ve had time to guess. Decentralized media is a group of dApps powered by smart contracts and deployed on the Blockchain platform. The code of the smart contract serves as the backend for dApps. This is the opposite of traditional social media platforms that are database-based. This is where all our information, programme code or other forms of data are stored. A treat for cyber criminals – all in one place. Decentralized social media use fully decentralized data storage. An example of this is the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Therefore, they protect user information from exploitation or malware. Even more – with this type of social media, your data is even protected from advertisers.
Another advantage of decentralized social media is that they function on a peer-to-peer basis. The network consists of thousands of nodes around the world. So even if some nodes fail, it doesn’t affect the whole enterprise – it continues to function. Therefore, decentralized social media can operate continuously and is immune to most disruptions and failures.
Do you already see what such decentralized social media means for users like us? A multitude of possibilities and, above all, a high level of security for our data.
Decentralized social media – advantages
The first advantage will be high security. The risk of outages and DDoS attacks is lower because decentralized networks use hundreds or even millions of servers and nodes. Users also have greater anonymity and privacy here. And that is extremely difficult with centralized social media.
Absence of censorship and control. Users of the network have full control over their data and what they share online. With this type of media, there is no central authority setting strict rules for behaviour.
Monetization for both creators and users of the network. Decentralized networks strongly encourage monetization through native token platforms. Native tokens are the equivalent of the more well-known cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. It’s a great way for creators to make money, and they can explore a whole new range of possibilities with it.
Those were the advantages, now it’s time for the disadvantages of decentralized social media
First – malicious users. The anonymity offered by decentralized social media can bring a lot of good, but also a lot of bad. On centralized platforms, companies can easily remove such malicious offenders who are causing mischief on a particular platform. In decentralized form, this option does not exist.
Without moderators, the troublemakers can continue to do their mischief. Take the example of the groups on the popular Facebook page. If someone is malicious and writes hateful content, they are automatically blocked and removed from the group. Unfortunately, the lack of moderators on decentralized networks means that such people can act even more arbitrarily and posts and malicious content are easily accessible.
Decentralized social media are unattractive to the user because of their interface. They are also not as user-friendly as their centralized counterparts.
The final disadvantage of decentralized social media is the small number of users. There is no denying it – users lose interest in decentralized networks because they are used to their centralized forms and have more friends there.
Now that you know the pros and cons of decentralized social media, let us introduce some alternatives to their centralized counterparts.
If you are looking for a Facebook-like platform, check out Minds, Diaspora or MeWe. For YouTube fans, there’s D.Tube or LBRY. Are there Instagram lovers here too? You are welcome – the Karma app, which is only available for mobile devices. Alternatives to Reddit and Twitter are Aether and Mastodon respectively.
Of course, these are just a few of the selected decentralized platforms. Others include Sphinx or Twitch, for example.
You can already see how much we are controlled by the centralized social media. Their algorithms, databases – they are a treasure trove of knowledge about us. That is why alternatives are being created. They are, so to speak, an example of the rebellion of users who dislike the existing system. The decentralized social media have their advantages and disadvantages. However, they are worth a look because they could revolutionize the functioning, centralized social media market in the near future.