Blockchain has gained increasing popularity over the past year. Having begun as the technology behind cryptocurrency exchanges, it has now shown promise in almost every other sector of the economy as it’s a secure, reliable and tamper-proof way of recording transactions and exchanging data.
So, what promise does this technology hold for social media?
Blockchain helps with verification of information and news
Facebook has been very busy in recent months, digging into and deleting false accounts that have posted fake news for several years now. Blockchain distributed ledger system can work to prevent all of this in the first place.
Verifying identities, verifying information and data that has been posted, etc. are all things that blockchain holds the promise to do. For instance, the 0xcert protocol provides a framework for developers to build powerful decentralized apps (dapps), enabling everyone to easily authenticate and manage their digital or real-world assets (such as original content, ID, university degree, in-game item or a house) on the blockchain. This can also help with gathering and verifying all types of data, including news and other information shared online.
The momentum is growing, and there will be pressure on social media platforms to incorporate this technology, either through third-party providers or by developing their own blockchain environment for verification.
Blockchain can create better user control mechanisms
Social media platforms collect a huge amount of data. Every time an account holder posts; every time an account holder likes or shares a post of another; every time an account holder opens an ad on the platform; and even every time an account holder searches the web and accesses other websites, the data makes its way to their profile or homepage. This is why we see so many ads in our newsfeed on Facebook.
How information is collected and exactly what is done with that information remain pretty much a mystery. And as recent events with Facebook have demonstrated, user information can be manipulated, distributed to third parties, and perhaps even sold, creating revenue streams for social media platform owners that are certainly never shared with the users whose information has been sold. And if this results in hacking of personal and financial information, there is little a user can do.
Blockchain can disrupt all of this activity. It can give users control of their own information and exactly where it goes. No platform will have access to it without permission. And the implications are quite far-reaching.
User can decide who gets access to their information. They can deal directly with advertisers and third parties, as they choose to, not as someone else does. And, users can choose to share their information with any platform’s advertisers, for a fee. These advertisers are already paying huge sums for the information, but they are not paying the right people – the true owners of that information.
Blockchain enables social media-based crowdfunding and improves peer-to-peer sales
First, there is no doubting the emerging popularity of crowdfunding to help startups grow, and to raise money for charitable causes. Blockchain-powered crowdfunding offers tons of advantages, including privacy and transparency. According to MF Chain, ICOs are built to protect investors’ private information while complying with know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, plus the blockchain ledger they run on “remain reliable records because of the settled information located in computers all over the world.”
When you consider that tech startups have raised 1.3 billion dollars from initial coin offerings, the potential for using blockchain-enabled social networks as crowdfunding platforms becomes clear. So does the potential to improve peer-to-peer sales on these platforms.
Simply put, the infrastructure to make and accept payments, to track contracts, and conduct user verification would already be in place. There would be no need to source out and implement any external payment or verification solutions.
These benefits that blockchain can provide to users of social media may not necessarily be popular with platform owners. After all, they stand to lose control of a huge ocean of information and data on their users and the potential income that this control can generate. But all things change, and social media is no exception. Users are becoming far wiser about how they have been manipulated and “used” by large and popular platforms. They are beginning to demand control, security, and a “piece of the monetary action.” If social media is platforms are to regain the level of users’ trust they once had, they will have to respond to these demands.