What is a social network?
A social network is a website or online service that enables users to create profiles that are entirely or in part public, exchange material, and interact with other users based on shared interests, experiences, or relationships.
Since its inception in the middle of the 1990s, social media has grown to encompass half of the world’s population and has unquestionably become a significant and fundamental part of people’s daily lives. The popularity of social networks is not unexpected given their many advantages and alluring characteristics.
First and foremost, social media may foster long-distance connections between friends, families, and communities while also enabling in-person communication. Second, they facilitate communication and other kinds of expression by making it simpler to exchange ideas and information. Social networks facilitate the formation of groups around like-minded interests and provide amusement through online content.
In addition, social media may help businesses grow by expanding their reach and enhancing their online presence. Social networking is a huge potential for marketers in the twenty-first century that want to draw in, keep, and gain clients.
Social networks in Web2, the internet as it exists now, are in a complicated and contentious condition right now. On the one hand, social media play a big part in influencing public opinion, influencing political discourse, and connecting individuals all over the world. On the other hand, social media are facing more and more difficulties, such as privacy issues. For instance, it is common knowledge that centralized social networks profit from the sale of user information. The public is demanding more privacy and control over their data as they become more aware of the dangers of disclosing sensitive and personal information online.
Monopolization of the social media landscape is a current hot topic. The social media industry and users’ data are mostly under the control of a small number of powerful businesses like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They thus encounter increasing criticism of their influence and authority.
It can be difficult to censor speech, public communication, or other types of information. Major Web2 social networks and governments in nations like China and North Korea have the power to restrict material or shut down any account on the sites.
Additionally, social media sites are frequently the focus of tighter regulation. In response to worries about data privacy, political meddling, the dissemination of false information, and dangerous, misleading material, governments all over the world tighten up their regulatory oversight of social media.
In addition, as worries about data privacy and the dissemination of false information continue to rise, social media’s economic model, which is based on advertising and data collecting, is being scrutinized.
Decentralized social networks: what are they?
Instead of centralized servers run by a single corporation, decentralized social networks store user data and content on a blockchain and independent servers.
While Web2 social media platforms have advantages and drawbacks, Web3 technology may significantly advance the environment. Decentralized social media networks, an emerging class of social networks that function in a decentralized fashion, are the main symbol of that transformation. This promotes openness because anybody can examine the data at any time and provides for more privacy and security while giving people control over their data, digital identity, and content.
Social media platforms built on blockchain technology are designed to support free expression and offer censorship resistance because there is no one entity in charge of censoring or editing the material. Furthermore, user data cannot be owned, collected, or sold by a third party.
Additionally, Web3 social networks frequently use fungible and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as fresh methods of content monetization. Decentralized social networks are thereby transforming not only the architecture of centralized Web2 platforms but also the way social media firms generate revenue.
3. Describe the operation of decentralized social networks.
Blockchains are used by Web3 social networks to store and administer their platforms, their data, and their content.
The fundamental elements and a description of how a decentralized social network functions are given below:
Data storage that is decentralized and transparent
Blockchain’s transparent and cryptographic features restore trust to social networks’ privacy. Additionally, social networks built on blockchain maintain data independently amongst several independent nodes. As a result, user information including profile images, details, postings, and interactions is kept dispersed throughout the network.
Smart contracts are the engine that drives decentralized social networks. These social networking sites backends are represented by the contract code, which also defines their business logic.
Transactions are validated using a consensus method, such as proof-of-stake (PoS) or proof-of-work (PoW), to enable trust and security in the network.
Cryptocurrency is a part of the token economy that drives decentralized social network monetization. It is frequently used to motivate social network users and provide them tokens as rewards for content creators.
Decentralized software (DApps)
Numerous Web3 social networks enable decentralized apps (DApps) that provide extra services and functionality, such as payments, NFTs, and more, or are accessible as DApps themselves.
securely authenticating users
A secure public key infrastructure is used to identify and verify users of decentralized social media platforms as well as the vast majority of Web3 applications.
Mechanisms for resisting censorship
Users of decentralized social media platforms have unrestricted access to generate and distribute any type of material on the network. No centralized authority has the right to control their speech or delete or alter their material.
Together, the aforementioned elements improve security, transparency, and user-centeredness in social networks.
Decentralized social networks have advantages
Decentralized social media obviously encourages connectedness, community development, and information sharing, just like any other social media platform or service. Decentralized social networks also have a number of advantages over centralized social media due to the way they operate.
First, Web3 social media platforms improve privacy because they give individuals authority and ownership over their data, making it harder for big businesses or governments to acquire or abuse that data.
Furthermore, because user data is held throughout a decentralized network of nodes rather than on a single server, decentralized social networks are less prone to data breaches. Users have the option of creating accounts without tying them to physical identifiers like phone numbers or email addresses. Instead of relying on a single entity to protect user data, these networks frequently employ public key cryptography.
Social media on the web 3 offer censorship resistance and encourage free expression. Since there is no centralized authority to filter or manage information on these platforms, they are excellent spaces for free speech and expression. Nevertheless, because they are mainly unmoderated, decentralized social media may have a negative side that includes criminal behavior, cyberbullying, and false political information.
Ownership of personal data and more control over user-generated content are further advantages. Decentralized social media platforms provide users the chance to keep ownership of their material and profit from it.
Web3 social networks include a special feature called decentralized autonomous organization governance (DAOs). It allows for the decentralized governance of such systems and gives users control over the network’s growth and direction. The DAO’s operations are built on the foundation of smart contracts. They enable any possible participant to completely understand how the protocol will operate at all times and are transparent, verifiable, and publicly auditable. Tokens are issued to fund a DAO treasury, granting token holders voting rights.
For many decentralized social networks, economic neutrality is a crucial ethos. Such networks seek to be free of invasive advertising and the threat it poses to user privacy. As a result, they use innovative methods of monetization, such as digital currency to assure company resilience and reward customers, in addition to venture capital investment, to maintain financial stability.
With a more democratic and open alternative structure to typical centralized social networks, Web3 social media advantages enable a more safe, more transparent, and user-centric social media experience.
5. the disadvantage of decentralized social networks
Comparing Web3 social media to conventional centralized ones, there are a number of disadvantages. Decentralized social networks may encounter these problems, but as technology is continuously developing, solutions may eventually be found.
Since most users are accustomed to utilizing big social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, they may be reluctant to convert to decentralized social networks, which have a harder time garnering a huge user base.
Decentralized social networks are also harder to use and comprehend than regular ones, which hinders their acceptance. Non-technical people are still intimidated by complex user interfaces and the requirement to enter the crypto sphere.
Decentralized social media may also be hindered by a lack of alluring features. When compared to centralized social media, many of them have restricted capabilities, which might affect their utility and user attractiveness.
Additionally, social media systems often need high throughputs to facilitate frequent, quick social interactions and efficient operation. Scalability is a problem for decentralized social networks since it restricts their capacity to manage high volumes of traffic and data.
Blockchain-based decentralized social networks with built-in crypto economies may be impacted by unforeseen occurrences and exposed to the turbulence of the cryptocurrency market. The stability of the social network as a whole and the value of incentives received by content providers are both immediately impacted by market conditions.
In addition, if there are financial difficulties, the network might be shut down. Users will thereafter lose their social connections as a result of this. Platforms with sustainable business models are the solution. Social networks may safeguard user information from misuse and abuse by utilizing decentralized storage systems like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).
Decentralized social networks may also have issues with regulation, which brings us to our final point. There are no international standards for blockchain as of now. Decentralized networks and the cryptocurrency industry are still under regulation by governments and financial organizations.
Social networks powered by blockchain are becoming more popular. Millions of people utilize dozens of social media platforms in the bitcoin industry. More decentralized social networks with varying characteristics and expanding functionality are predicted to develop as technology advances.
Popular decentralized social media networks include the following:
One of the first decentralized social media networks, Diaspora, was introduced in 2010. It was hailed as a well-known Facebook substitute.
Damus is a well-known decentralized social media platform with an intuitive user experience, built on top of the well-liked decentralized social media protocol Nostr.
Mastodon is a decentralized microblogging service that enables users to follow other users and make and exchange brief text postings. The largest free, open-source, decentralized microblogging network in the world, according to Mastodon. Mastodon is essentially an open-source Twitter substitute.
Peepeth is an Ethereum-based social network that competes with Twitter and attempts to offer a more private, secure, and censorship-resistant social media platform.
The blockchain-based decentralized social network Hive seeks to offer a more transparent and safe social media experience.
A decentralized social network called Minds aspires to give free expression and online rights a more open and transparent platform. It gives users the freedom to express themselves, privacy protection, the chance to win cryptocurrency prizes, and social media power back.
Launched in 2018, Pixelfield is a decentralized Instagram substitute. With no adverts on the site, it gives users control over their data and preserves the privacy of their photographs.
Status is a secure messaging DApp that combines end-to-end encryption and an open-source, peer-to-peer protocol to shield users’ communications from prying eyes.
Built on Ethereum, Mirror is a decentralized, user-owned publishing platform that enables users to monetize content, crowdfund ideas, and create high-value communities.
The group behind Aave (AAVE) announced Lens Protocol, a decentralized social network, in 2022. It aids content producers in claiming ownership of their work. The project provides users with the resources they need to build their own Web3-based social networking systems.
A blogging and social networking platform built on the blockchain, Steemit was established in 2014. It was specially created with the help of steam blockchain technology.
A blockchain-based social media video network called DTube exists. Users paid with the Steem (STEEM) token, and it was built on Steem and the IPFS. It then shifted to its Avalon blockchain.
Built on Solana, Only1 is an NFT-driven social networking system.
Aether is a Reddit competitor that offers self-governing communities, auditable moderation, and elections for moderators.
8. Decentralized social media’s future
Traditional Web2 social networking platforms are hampered by basic issues such as demonetization, censorship, and lack of user privacy. Decentralization might be the answer.
Numerous prominent Web2 social media are already moving towards Web3 and decentralization in an effort to find a way out. Reddit, for instance, promoted community points, and ERC-20 tokens that users can get by publishing valuable content and participating in online communities. Reddit is collaborating with Arbitrum, a layer 2 protocol created to scale Ether (ETH) transactions, to achieve this.
NFTs now have support on Twitter, enabling users to link their wallets and utilize NFTs as profile images. On Instagram, Meta is also experimenting with nonfungible coins. Social networking sites built on the blockchain are constantly adding new features and ways for users to connect with one another and technology.
Despite the numerous difficulties, it is more probable that Web3 social media platforms will continue to expand and become widely used in the future as users look for methods to monetize their data according to their own terms and greater control over their privacy. Decentralized social media networks are becoming more popular for a number of reasons, including increased security, pseudonymity, resistance to censorship, and freedom of speech.