Blockchain And Social Networks
It is always nice to observe that Blockchain technology is getting more and more about it and that many are interested in it. Among them, many websites or magazines called “serious” devote articles on exciting topics. For example, I just read Steve Olenski’s post on Forbes where the author discusses the potential relationship between blockchain and social networks. Or rather, if the blockchain will reinvent the social network as we know it today.
A little history of social networks …
In 2017, it’s hard to imagine a world without social networks. However, barely 10 years ago, in 2007, to say that the planet was not connected is neither exaggeration nor obvious error. Indeed, Facebook and YouTube were emerging, Twitter had just been created, Instagram, SnapChat or WhatsApp (to name only the most used) did not exist. Even LinkedIn, a Jurassic species of Web 2.0 since it was created in 2002, interested only a few tens of thousands of curious people. But the potential was there. Social networks have revolutionized the way we communicate, share, learn, and more.
Yet, would there ever be a breathlessness of the model of society inculcated by these social networks? If it seems derisory, the doubt is sown in places. Today, if there are many, the sphere of social networks is dominated only by a few behemoths. Facebook has Instagram and WhatsApp, Google bought YouTube, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn. Leaving aside the case of SnapChat, the lonely adulated teenagers, the world of the social network is a world centralized by mastodons that only have crumbs to take, unless you have an ingenious idea to integrate as SnapChat did with its filters and content limited to seconds. These behemoths are quasi-monopolies and therefore do absolutely what they want.
The first signs of fatigue of the social network
If you talk to teenagers, you’ll notice that they have a special appetite for Snap and Instagram, while Facebook is considered the social network of parents and is less used by this age group ! Everything is going very fast! It is therefore necessary to note the permanent evolution of the world of social networks.
The most emblematic case of this breathlessness, Twitter, also lonely, sees its number of users stagnate . However, I agree with others that the end of the increase in the number of users can lead, in the medium term, to a vicious circle and the death of the social network concerned if it does not change. not and do not innovate. What is said by the decrease in the number of users, said decrease of the number of active users, decrease of the turnover, decrease of the profit, etc, until the financial losses … but that is another subject … and I move away of mine !
The promises of blockchain and its decentralization
So back to our sheep, namely blockchain and social networks. As we already know, the blockchain revolutionizes, in particular, the way in which transactions are authenticated. Thus, thanks to mining, there is no need for trusted third parties (the bank) to know that A has paid B and especially that A has not already used the money to pay C (double-spend problem) or does not never had. But the blockchain is also an absolute transparency. At least today, but that too is another subject … This transparency is certified by the use of public addresses composed of multiple characters which, if they can be followed, do not reveal who is hiding behind. In other words, everything is visible but nobody is targeted by name. This is the whole model of decentralization (see for example the project of the professional social network Indorse, based on a blockchain Ethereum , or even Nexus ).
Our private data … private
Now, the evil of today’s social network is centralization. Thus, Facebook knows everything about you, its algorithms know your preferences, your wishes, your way of clicking, your interactions. Only Facebook has this valuable data and sells it to the highest bidder. The magic formula is simple and, in return, you have wonderful targeted ads, to the point of asking you: “But how can they know that?” The social network is free because you are the product!
By decentralizing , the data belong to their users and no longer to the network. Questions then come to the business model of a start-up like Indorse and click on the link above (or here ) if you want to know more. Respect for our privacy is of course reinforced with this initiative. Our private data are no longer public and return to their original state: private private data.
Master users of the game
Corollary of the control of our data, the decentralization would also allow the private exchange which would be integrated to the blockchain. So, a “Hi Marie, are you okay?” Visible to Facebook using Messenger would become “564hg564g54gh545gh4 written to 756gffgfggf4gf21vc21secv4b” on a decentralized social network thanks to the blockchain: visible in an encrypted way by all (at least by the one who has fun to search) but whose secure and decrypable content is only known to the sender and the recipient.
Another promise that could delight more than one, a social network operating through the blockchain would allow some users to be paid through their content. A dream ? Not really. Today, social networks are paid only through us and in two ways. The first, which represents a tiny minority, are the paying users (for example, paying to make visible a post or a photo). The second, which represents the overwhelming majority, is the sale of our data that we ourselves create. My picture of the fire Azure Window Malta ( this arch was wonderful! ), A poem for my beloved or a video of my lizard Felix dancing the macarena, all content of which we are the author right to the social network that uses it to pay itself. If this content remains in our hands, we could pay for it through likes, comments, sharing … in a business model that remains to be defined. How many likes are paid? Or simply, what can be paid for?
A principle remaining complex
The only problem with these promises is their complexities, like the whole blockchain in general. In addition to the complex definition of authors’ remuneration, there is the creation of a unique cryptocurrency for each decentralized social network. Indeed, this unique cryptocurrency seems to be the necessary accessory to the decentralization of the network and its “blockchainisation”. To use another currency would then be to call on a trusted third party. What about compatibility with other crypto-currencies or even “classic” currencies? To date, these issues and many others (the main one of which is attracting users) are far from resolved.
What future for social networks thanks to the blockchain?
The current postulate is clear: many people feel watched over the internet. Some people did not know it because they did not really understand how the web’s innards work. Others know it but like the internet and wish that it changes. Another category knows it but does not care. The last ones know it and play it. But these four categories are certain that all their keyboard gestures are watched and sometimes sold.
Decentralized blockchain technology is therefore a boon to remedy this surveillance and this violation of the privacy of others. It remains to be seen how the current behemoths will react. Their power is such that they seem untouchable. If they claim for some billions of users, their base of ultra-connected users, whose addiction can worry, is so important that it seems difficult to dislodge and their model with.
That is why I am not certain of one thing: the blockchain will kill Facebook. Or rather, that the decentralized model will kill the centralized model because of this overpower gained by social networks. However, I believe that the decentralized social network has a great future in front of him but he will have to find a place in this world of bullies.
Facebook, Instagram and others will they have taken the path of the blockchain? Will their original model have, on the contrary, resisted? New actors, hardly created or not yet born, will they have taken the lead? Answer in 10 or 15 years.