Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, we check them when we wake up, on the way to work, or sometimes even while eating. With the rise of centralized platforms like Facebook and Twitter, concerns about data privacy, censorship, and control of information have grown. Decentralized social media platforms want to offer a solution to these issues by using blockchain technology to provide a more secure, transparent and censorship-resistant environment for online communication. Some of them use existing blockchains, and others have their unique network. Let’s take a closer look at four of them.
Author: Carmen Rodríguez
Main platforms and my experience setting up an account
Minds is a decentralized social network that utilizes Ethereum blockchain technology to provide enhanced security and privacy for its users. The platform aims to offer a superior alternative to traditional, centralized social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. By being decentralized, Minds prevents third-party data mining and operates without censorship. One of its standout features is the ability for users to earn tokens, known as $MINDS. These tokens can be earned through creating and sharing content, or by being active on the platform. Users can also spend tokens to increase the visibility of their content, for crowdfunding and other purposes. The network has $MINDS tokens available for purchase and also distributes them through airdrops based on contributions to the network. 1
The most curated app out of the ones I tried,iIt has a lot of features but they are well organized and it doesn't feel overwhelming. You select some hashtags during the setting of the account so your explore page is already customized accordingly. I didn't need to obtain minds' currency in order to post, but that is a requirement when you also want to be rewarded for your content.
Mastodon is an open-source, decentralized social media platform that comprises a network of independent servers that are not owned by any single entity. The platform was created in 2016 and has since grown to include a variety of alternative social media sites that are tailored to specific interests and communities. The platform's user interface and functionality are similar to Twitter, with the use of hashtags and "toots" (the platform's version of posts) and it's inspired by the prehistoric mammal of the same name and the layout resembling that of Reddit, allowing users to find servers that align with their interests and beliefs. The platform also features cartoon imagery of the prehistoric mammal and the term "toot" also comes from the noise the animal could make with its trunk. 2
When I registered I could choose what server I was interested in. The servers are classified on Regional, Technology, Activism, Gaming,... I choose journalism and within that one newsie.social. Therefore my handle became @firstname.lastname@example.org. As you can see in figure 1 the majorities are within regional and technology but you can even find a server for eurovision fans. Some Mastodon servers are closed, meaning they only allow approved users to participate, as determined by the server administrator.
Figure 1: Mastodon servers
Steemit is a social media platform that runs on the Steem blockchain. It's designed to host text and multimedia content while smoothly transferring tokens. Steem's blockchain differs from others by using alphanumeric account names, making them more readable and easy to use. It's similar to Reddit, with a wide range of content, blog articles, and a commenting system. The platform stores the content on a blockchain and rewards active users who make good contributions. The platform is free to use and accessible to everyone. It also has a reputation system to encourage fair behavior and cooperation. A new account starts with a reputation of 25, which can be affected by positive or negative reviews. 3
I registered for the service through their website, as they did not offer an application. During the registration process, they were the only platform that requested my phone number. Upon completion, I received a personalized password, which I was informed would be the only means of accessing my account, as they do not store passwords. This process was similar to securing a private key for a digital wallet. I also had the option to create a TRON account, which I found to be a convenient feature. A TRON account is a digital wallet that allows for the storage, management, and transfer of TRON-based digital assets, such as TRX, the native cryptocurrency of the TRON blockchain network.
DTube, short for "decentralized tube," is a decentralized app (DApp) that operates on the Avalon blockchain. Avalon is a blockchain specifically designed for social media and uses a delegated proof of stake consensus protocol. DTube's mission is to provide a censorship-resistant platform for videos by storing them on a decentralized file system (IPFS) that is distributed among peers on the network. This ensures that even if one peer node fails, the video will still be accessible on another node. ⁴
During my registration, I was only asked for my email. I was then provided with my unique username, a public key, and a private key, which I was advised to securely save. As a reward for registering, I received 20 Voting Power (VP) units. With these VP units, I am able to upload videos and engage in the Avalon blockchain community. By acquiring Digital Token Currency (DTC), I can reward other content creators and participate in the DTC exchange market. Additionally, as I accumulate DTC, my VP also increases automatically.
What happens in the background? - Blockchains the platforms use
Figure 2: Blockchain networks of social media platforms
As you can see in figure 2 most decentralized social media platforms do have their own network or blockchain, as they are designed to be decentralized and operate independently of centralized systems. This allows these platforms to provide a more secure and transparent environment for online communication, as well as more control for users over their data and the content they see and share. However, some decentralized social media platforms may use existing blockchain infrastructure rather than creating their own.
Taking control of our online presence
Decentralized social media platforms empower users to take control of their online experience by providing a more secure, transparent, and censorship-resistant environment. The use of blockchain technology allows for a decentralized system that is not controlled by a single entity, giving users more control over their data and the content they see and share. This is in contrast to centralized platforms, where the companies that control the platform can access, use, and sell users' data, and can also censor or remove content that does not align with their policies. Furthermore, decentralized social media platforms also provide users with the ability to earn rewards for their contributions and activities, thus providing a more equitable way to monetize the platform and its content.⁵
Are decentralized social media platforms the future?
As decentralized social media platforms continue to evolve and gain popularity, they offer a promising alternative to centralized platforms that prioritize profits over user privacy and freedom of expression. These platforms empower users to take control of their data and make their own choices about the content they see and share online. With the increasing adoption of blockchain technology, decentralized social media platforms may very well become the future of online communication.
About Carmen Rodriguez
Carmen Rodriguez is a junior social media manager at Luna Vision and executive assistant at basenode.io. Before that, she worked for other companies in the marketing field. Besides her degree in business administration, she holds a master's in social innovation. You can reach out to Carmen via LinkedIn.
About Luna Vision
Luna Vision is a blockchain marketing agency with its roots in the blockchain ecosystem. We offer data-focused marketing to blockchain startups. With a deep understanding of blockchain technology, we can best promote your products created and running within the blockchain ecosystem and “translate” to your customers - may they be already included in the ecosystem or still be new here.
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