Thanks to the capacity to execute all types of applications and establish smart contracts using the blockchain technology, new companies have immense possibilities at their disposal to create innovative solutions for all kinds of industries and the massive communications is not an exception. The changes brought by the appearance of internet and the social networks 2.0 are now followed by new methods for content sharing and social interaction using the advantages and benefits of the blockchain technology.
These new types of social network are trying to solve the disadvantages that characterized the centralized social networks until now. The goal is to create a decentralized system focused on the privacy and security, besides offering guarantees to the participating public. One of the objectives is to avoid the repetition of situations such as the ones with the traditional social networks in which the information could be manipulated according to political and commercial interests, where the data provided by the users is used by the owners of different companies.
The recent scandal generated by the sale of data of the Facebook users to third parties and the proliferation of false news during elections, especially during the election campaign of the current president of the United States of America, were events that triggered the development of new solutions, with special focus on the privacy of the participants, besides providing truthful information. These new solutions are also fighting the censorship imposed by many governments around the world when it comes to certain contents. Some of these new decentralized projects will be presented in this article.
The first project is called Steemit, it was created back in 2016 by Ned Scott and Dan Larimer, the creator of Bitshares. Steemit is a decentralized reward platform that combines the creation of content, the interaction between the users. It uses a cryptocurrency called Steem, which the official website of the company characterizes as a Smart Media Token (SMT). This token can be exchanged in on various cryptocurrency exchange platforms, such as Poloniex, Bittrex and OpenLedger.
By using the Steem token, this social networks is trying to monetize the content and form a community around its platform. The functioning of Steemit is similar to the way Reddit functions, but in this case the content is registered using a blockchain network.
The users can vote in favor or against (upvote or downvote) when it comes to the content, as well as the comments. The rewards on Steemit are paid in Steem tokens and the amount of the reward depends on the number of votes received. This is a major difference when compared to the traditional centralized social networks, because the traditional social networks extract monetary value on behalf of their shareholders. On the other hand, Steemit provides benefits and rewards to its users because of their attention and contribution to the social network.
This way the rewards in Steem tokens function as points that can be exchanged for other tokens and provide acquiring power to access to various service related to the network. Anyone from anywhere in the world can access the platform and be rewarded for the content provided.
Sapien is another decentralized social network project based on the blockchain technology. The platform was created last year by Robert Giometti and Ankit Bhatia, who is also the current CEO of the company. The official websites described Sapien as a Web 3.0 social news platform that allows the users to control their data, provides rewards for the content creators and fights the false news. Sapien is based on the Ethereum blockchain network and presents an alternative to the news shared on Facebook ad Google.
According to the founders of the platform, their blockchain networks is the base that allows to construct a transparent and democratic platform where million of content creators and curators can be rewarded for their efforts, without using intermediaries. The goal is to avoid the proliferation of the false news that are currently going viral on the centralized social networks. Therefore, Sapien presents an alternative that defends the truth and also provides monetary rewards to its users.
This social networks functions through the publication of contents that are compensated with SPN, a native token of the platform compatible with the ERC20 protocol. Sapien allows the users to access public and private navigation, personalize their information, share content, add friends, use encrypted chats in order to protect the privacy of the users and also offers a subscription system. The identity of the users is stored in the Sapien’s blockchain network that guarantees the security of the users and is also used to verify their identity.
Sola is another social network project based on the blockchain technology. It wa created by Ilya Zudin last year, together with Pavel Panov. According to the official website, Sola is a hybrid of media and social networks governed by the users. Sola uses an application called Action Points, an internal virtual currency that does not possess any monetary value until someone backs up or comments on the contents, which converts them to the SOL token.
The idea is to share photos, thoughts, news and ideas with persons from around the world, without being limited by a list of followers. At the same time, the income is made by advertisements, payments made by the users and associations that are split with the users.
Each time a user desires to join the platform, a decentralized node is generated in the blockchain network of Sola that distributed content in the network. Each owner receives a remuneration for this service. Since it is an open code platform, the project provides the opportunity for everyone to join its development, while the SOL token can be used both inside the platform, as well as outside of the platform.
Founded by David Moskowitz in 2017, Indorse is a decentralized platform similar to LinkedIn where the participants can create a professional profile which the companies can access when looking for new employees.
The platform is based on the Ethereum blockchain network and uses different methods to validate the skills of the users in an objective way, including the decentralized consensus where the skills are judged anonymously by other users in a random manner. Indorse also uses systems based on artificial intelligence, such a the chat bots that are used to validate the data in real time.
Unlike the traditional social media platforms where the users can make any affirmation about themselves and this is taken as the truth, Indorse verifies and validates the information and rewards the users for backing up the skills of other users. This process is called indoring and to do this, the user has to attach tests that other users have to pass in order to verify their information, which is endorsed or market according to the achieved consensus, which provides the possibility for the users to obtain a renown reputation.
According to the official website of Indorse, the users are rewarded for their activity on the platform in IND tokens. These native tokens can later be exchanged or used on the platform to buy services such as ads or company pages with validated connections.
The fifth platform is called Alis, it was founded last year by Masahiro Yasu Takashi Mizusawa and Sota Ishii and it is a social network platform that for the time being functions only in Japan. Alis is based on the blockchain technology and its goal is to foment the creation of quality content and avoid the saturation caused by ads, secretive market campaigns and the unreliable sources of information.
Moreover, Alis is an initiative whose goal is to tackle the phenomenon called clickbait, which consists of publishing announcements with sensationalist titles, whose goal is to catch the attention of the users and generate more visits, even though they distort information. This practice is used in many countries around the world and has increased in the last several years in Japan as well. The clickbait makes it difficult to differentiate between the real and false information, especially when it comes to investing in cryptocurrencies.
To tackle the clickbait, the articles published on Alis receive votes from the community according to their truthfulness and quality, just like on Steemit, but with a difference. On Alis there is the possibility to earn the Alis tokens without creating any content. This happens when the users find quality articles, which in turn bring them rewards. The social network plans on extending its operations to other countries around the world in the near future.
The last project on the list is called ONG.Social, it was created in 2017 and it is based on the Ethereum and Waves blockchain networks. The goal of the platform is to facilitate the control for the construction of communities and social interaction with rewards in cryptocurrencies. This way, just like the aforementioned decentralized social networks, the goal is to monetize the effort made by the users in the network and validate the publications according to their impact, while confirming their veracity at the same time using the consensus from the community.
This system, according to the project’s official website, motivates the public to generate more quality content with the goal of eliminating the false news. Christopher J. Kramer, the founder and CEO of ONG.Social, believes the blockchain technology is transforming the social networks using a technology resistant to the censorship and allows the users to control their data.
In that sense, one of the characteristics of this platform is that it allows the users to bring together all their social networks in one place, including the traditional and well-known platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. When it comes to managing ads, the network technically lends advertisers to the owners of the content, which is a strategy that differentiates from the traditional systems where the creators of the content should find advertisers on their own.
Even though the reach of this new generation of social networks still does not have the levels of the famous and established social network platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others, we are talking about nascent projects that usually derive from initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Generally speaking, these networks are designed to reward the users and content creators using the acquisition of their native tokens, which can convert in a limitation when it comes to the persons used to register on the social networks in a completely free manner, without the need to pay anything.
Nevertheless, it is possible that this strategy of rewarding the users will become more adopted and the people will become accustomed to the new way of dealing with the social networks, especially as the adoption of the cryptocurrencies grows. In the meantime, more and more projects trying to create more decentralized social networks are being created.