Social Networks are in a sorry state at the moment. In fact, their decline was already foreseeable as these social platforms became increasingly exploitative as more users flooded them.
We’ve all heard the reports of Facebook and numerous others allegedly selling user data to third parties. Then there have been scandals like Cambridge Analytica.
Persistent trend seekers, these platforms aim for the lowest hanging fruit, which today means being part or leading the global ecosystem of blockchain platforms.
And, don’t forget their notorious malicious corporate acquisition tactics, endless streams of ads, and inability to handle bots and fake accounts.
While the originally centralized social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter have certainly moved forward with their crypto hype strategies, more innovative and freedom-focused projects are emerging on the scene.
What are Distributed or Federated Social Networks?
Prior to the advent of on-chain social media, there have been people working on open-source, peer-to-peer, and ad-free platforms, called distributed, or federated social networks.
In federated networks, user profiles, posts, likes, or any other object of engagement are usually made inaccessible and secret from the platform creators. Codebases of federated social networks are open to the general public, unlike most platforms today.
The most important aspect of federated social networks is their architecture — the network is run by numerous different servers on the same, usually a peer-to-peer, protocol.
Every user’s computer may act as a server, and share data on a given federated network, which is what decentralizes it. Some of the most celebrated federated social media platforms include:
- PeerTube. Like YouTube, but decentralized and based on free (as in freedom) software. PeerTube describes itself as a network of small video hosts
- Mastodon. A content moderation-friendly, decentralized, and interoperable microblogging service hosting servers with various communities
- Pleroma. The federated alternative to Twitter that’s compatible with other networks like Mastodon.
- Odyssee. Another, bigger alternative to YouTube that achieves freedom of speech. Odyssee was created by the team of LBRY, an on-chain social network.
Explore more federated networks online, there are great communities on distributed servers.
Social Media on the Blockchain
The answer to why we need to put social posts on a blockchain is user freedom, online economies, metaverse. Instagram or Facebook, although they try to jump on the “Web3” bandwagon, remain highly centralized.
We need platforms that can be interoperable with each other, use blockchains for all of their storage, focus on freedom, offer micropayments, and have the infrastructure to become a more immersive place once new technology is brought from labs.
The existence of micropayment functionality in social platforms opens new waters in user-creator or user-user interaction. Once an infrastructure for on-chain receipt metadata is implemented, even paying for goods on social media can be possible.
Examples of Good On-chain Social Platforms
Mirror is one of the most popular blogging platforms built on the Ethereum network that allows “NFT-ing” of posts, offer subscriptions, and set up DAOs. Although widely used, Mirror being on Ethereum can make users face high gas and low speed.
Streamanity is a Twitch-like video streaming platform built on BitcoinSV that helps streamers earn tokens by making viewers pay for their viewership.
LBRY is as much a federated social network as it is a blockchain-powered one. It offers different forms of dashboard customization, which makes it a mixture of Reddit, Facebook, Youtube, but on-chain.
Twetch seems like yet another clone of Twitter, but the ecosystem of it is far more impressive. Users must pay $0.02 in BSV tokens to send out a post, but that can be quickly made back from other users’ likes ($0.05/post), replies ($0.02/post), or branches that act as retweets ($0.03/post).
Not only is Twetch’s game theory for general posting in check, but the platform is known to be a consistent launcher of unique on-chain games, contests, and real products.
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