Social media is everywhere. The big players in the industry carry billions of users and boast massive layers of data and content. These days, though, social media may be in for a major change, possibly due to the rise of blockchain.
After Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others spent the better part of the millennium rising at meteoric rates, users have recently started to abandon social media accounts, opting for a single account, or no social media at all. Recent reports about how social media affects psychological well-being reflect a general malaise among former fans, and it seems that even faithful social media addicts are starting to grow discontent with pictures of food and long diatribes about political issues.
Users who took social media seriously and produced quality content discovered that all their hard work was consumed by the platform itself, leaving them with no financial gain, and just a few million likes and a moment of fame as compensation. Content on social media became the stepping stone to massive financial gain for the platform rather than the creator.
What’s more, information on social media that had been intended to be private has been made public to governments, advertising companies, and more, making users far less willing to share intimate details of life. Potential violations of privacy abound, with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and the rest being willing to change the order of feed, link users with advertisers, and make information more transparent than users might like.
In other words, social media is losing its edge.
Enter blockchain technology.
Blockchain is the technology behind the recent media darling Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency built on the decentralized platform. A decentralized database, or decentralized ledger, blockchain technology creates new ‘blocks’ for information that is being stored or processed. For a new block of information to be stored, it must be approved by the entire chain, meaning that the chain is completely ‘decentralized’ and therefore secure and transparent.
As Ian Khan, one of the TEDX speakers, puts it, “No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.”
Blockchain amps social media up to a whole new level. The very nature of blockchain technology provides a methodology whereby users can have vastly more control over privacy of information, while at the same time, potentially receiving monetary compensation for the viral content they create. Two companies have seen the potential and are leading the way.
Privatizing Your Experience
In the area of privacy, one such company is Nexus, the creator of the Social coinvia a coming ICO (initial coin offering – think digital currency token). Nexus is designed to be a social media platform where users are able to post information, send private messages, and create public transactions, sales, and crowdfunding, all through the blockchain.
The benefits should be immediately apparent. For starters, all the information that’s contained on the blockchain is private, and therefore any instant message could be sent between two people “without anyone, even Nexus, knowing its contents,” says Nexus founder Jade Mulholland. Information sent and received, as well as all data stored on the site and all transactions within the platform, would be completely private, creating a veritable haven for consumers burned by the world of social media.
Further, Nexus intends to issue its own cryptocurrency called Social, which can be used as monetary device within the platform. Social can be earned and used to purchase goods and services, and all these transactions are also managed on the blockchain and free from prying eyes. Nexus has even linked their Social coin to a debit card, allowing users to spend their Social as fiat currency (dollars, pounds, euros) anywhere Visa is offered.
Getting What You Deserve
When it comes to monetizing content on social media, Synereo has produced a stunningly creative system called WildSpark which utilizes blockchain technology to allow users to get paid for what they create. Like Nexus, Synereo has created a cryptocurrency called AMP that can be used by ‘curators’ (those who see good content and distribute it, i.e., ‘like’ or ‘share’ it) as well as by the content creators themselves to distribute content and receive payment. Rather than all the financial gain being absorbed by the content middle man – the social media outlet – AMPs provide a means for users to share, enjoy, and get paid for creating and sharing information and content.
If this sounds complex, it’s not. It’s simply using blockchain technology to allow users to control how their content and shared information is distributed, and help them to make a profit.
Founder Dor Konforty says, “This way, a new economy is created, enabling users to employ their curation skills to profit from the successful distribution of UGC [user generated content], while granting creators a form of passive income.” In other words, creators and curators get paid for making and sharing social content, rather than the platform leveraging content for profit. Named one of the top 5 ‘Cool Vendors in Blockchain Technology’ by Gartner, Synereo is rapidly gaining traction in its Beta phase.
As the heyday for legacy social media begins to wane, these companies, and others like them, are seeing the great potential of blockchain technology to revitalize it. Blockchain promises to move foundational social media to an entirely different level, and has the power to reinvent the very nature of how content and information is privately and profitably distributed.