Millennials Need Decentralized Social Media — Here’s Why
It’s time for decentralized social apps to take over
It’s a rare occurrence when people across all generations and sides of the political spectrum agree. One of these things is on the invasiveness and control of big tech. Regardless of your opinion on content moderation or censorship, we can all agree that the power social corporations like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have over our personal data and online identities is alarming.
Every time we provide our information or publish content onto these centralized platforms, that unique piece of data no longer belongs to us. We are given a false sense of ownership over our tweets, videos or blogs, when in reality, the moment we click publish, we give up control and send it to a centralized server owned by one large entity.
The challenge is that the growing skepticism of centralized tech giants is also growing in congruence with our reliance on their platforms. The market is ripe for an alternative option from the main social platforms, one that doesn’t place corporate monetization first, but the user at the center of it.
Why we need a new social platform
There are two main issues with traditional social media platforms: censorship and unfair monetization.
Despite the constitutional right to free speech, censorship occurs on social platforms because it is technically a private forum owned by an entity. This means that the corporate owner has the right to moderate the feed, remove content that doesn’t fit under their rules, and in the worst-case scenario, block user access to their accounts.
When combined with black box algorithms determining what content users see and putting all this power in the hands of even individual people, it’s already been shown to even affect elections around the world so the risks are not restricted on an individual’s level.
The other issue is caused by the advertising-driven revenue models of web2 apps, where even one third of the posts can be paid ads. Yet often none of the revenue is shared with the content creators who are then forced to make their own advertorial posts to get compensated or in case of, for example, Reddit moderators are “paid” in Karma points with no monetary value. . So despite how it may appear on social media, the large majority of content creators aren’t actually making a decent living wage on these platforms.
How do we solve the problem?
To understand the solution, we need to get to the root of the problem and unpack how these centralized networks operate. All social media platforms use some type of social graph — an intricate model that maps out all users and how they relate to one another. Traditional big tech companies own and control the social network and store it in their private data servers. This approach means our online lives are fragmented in separate walled gardens where platforms decide who sees your posts, sometimes arbitrarily delete some of them, or can anytime kick you out and wipe your entire social network for one mishap.
With blockchain technology, it is now possible to decentralize the social graph where, instead of corporations, each user owns their profile and all the posts and relationships in it.. Lens Protocol, the brainchild of Aave, is an open-source social graph that empowers any developer to build and launch a blockchain-based social platform.
On Lens, your profile, and relationships with any other profiles are represented as NFTs and stored on-chain. These profiles are interoperable across all Lens dApps and stored in your own crypto wallet instead of a centralized platform.. Your profile and content is owned and operated by you and if you’re unhappy with how one app treats you, you can seamlessly move to others without losing your followers.
With users in control, this approach requires a genuinely user-focused approach from the apps built for the next generation of social. Phaver, the first mobile app released on Lens, is tackling this with a token economy that is geared to share the success with the content creators, curators and moderators who help to build and maintain the high-quality content feed that any successful social app needs. Creating value for the community is rewarded with tokens while they can be spent to boost content visibility, subscribe to premium content or, for example, a fully ad-free experience, creating a two-sided liquid market that rewards not only the largest influencers, but all parties who help to improve the experience. Furthermore, the governance tokens earned by the best users can also be used to vote on any future decisions, making sure things like content guidelines and algorithms are built for the community instead of the advertisers.
Where do we go from here?
The social media industry is ready for disruption. Elon Musk recently made the news for his very public remarks on transforming Twitter’s censorship-riddled policies by making a $44 billion acquisition offer. Former POTUS, Donald Trump started his own uncensored social app after falling victim to Twitter’s account banning.
All these prominent figures are racing to build a solution that will challenge traditional social platforms. What they fail to realize is that winning doesn’t mean owning and controlling a new platform under their rules. True disruption will happen when power and control are given to the people. Social dApps like Phaver are paving the way for a better digital future that is ethical and empowering for people and we’re ready for it.