We live in a world where users voluntarily part with a wealth of valuable personal data in exchange for access to social media platforms. Personal information is shared with third parties and used in ways that are unsafe and never directly benefit the vast majority of users.
In this article, we will address the application of blockchain technology and how this technology can initiate a paradigm shift in the dynamics and economic model of social networks while ensuring reliability and security by harnessing the potential of infinite scalability.
Issues with social media today:
- Leaking of data from Social Media platforms
A recent Facebook data leak exposed the personal information of 533 million Facebook users, from 106 countries. Users’ names, emails, phone numbers, and locations, among other things, were compromised. This information has been made public on a low-cost hacking forum, where anybody may view it for free.
In addition to Facebook, the personal data of 700 million LinkedIn users was put up for sale by hackers. They have already posted a sample of the data, which included information for 1 million users. The data examined by the site did not only include login credentials or financial information but also included a wealth of personal information that could be used to assume someone’s identity, including full names, phone numbers, physical addresses, etc.
The Irish Data Protection Commission, Europe’s major privacy control authority fined WhatsApp for handling users’ and non-users’ data and showcased how data was transferred between WhatsApp and other Facebook firms.
Another tech giant Amazon.com Inc. was slapped with a record €746 million fine in Luxembourg, where it has its European headquarters, for violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation by processing personal data.
Following the March Facebook incident, which revealed that the world’s most popular social network had been monetizing the private information of more than 50 million users for several years, many people acquired an interest in decentralized blockchain solutions. Furthermore, experts believe that the development of blockchain networks is becoming essential in society today.
2. Used for political agenda
Four years ago, numerous media outlets reported that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had acquired the personal data of 87 million Facebook users and sold it to politicians, including former US presidential candidate Ted Cruz and incumbent US President Donald Trump. That data helped to create a tool of “psychological warfare” to manipulate American voters with targeted Facebook ads and social media campaigns.
The discovery of a network of sophisticated transactions that exploit Facebook user data with the ultimate goal of influencing elections has sparked an old debate over who should own personal information globally. Hopefully, this problem will eventually generate demand for a new kind of social media that, like bitcoin, does not need centralized control.
3. Social networks monetize the data that we create, we become the product…
When we think of “selling” user data, we usually imagine a firm packaging up its clients’ confidential information and selling it as downloadable ZIP files. Even if navigating across the web is free, we pay for it by relinquishing our privacy. Social media platforms like Facebook, collect our personal information, trace our activities and get access to our interests according to our navigation history. This allows Facebook to extract maximal profit from removing any risk of data breach or damage to the user while privatizing all the financial gain by exploiting and manipulating their data. The vast majority of social media companies’ money is made from selling hyper-focused advertising based on algorithmically mining its users’ lives, both willingly and unwittingly. Many of the businesses we deal with, from food shops and brick-and-mortar stores to newspapers and publications we subscribe to, package their customer records and sell them for a profit.
Today’s social media platforms are covered by Web 2, which led to the massive development of tech giants like Google, Facebook, and YouTube. It enabled certain companies to centralize the Internet, making it more collaborative and social at the cost of supplying personal data and information. To address the issues with Web 2, a new version of the web, Web 3, solves the data manipulation problem caused by corporate companies. Web 3 stands for Decentralization, since on Web 3, the developer doesn’t build and deploy applications that run on a single server or store the data on a single database. Instead, Web 3 runs the application on Blockchain, a decentralized network of peer-to-peer nodes. So, this way, companies like Google cannot access users’ personal information and deploy them for marketing purposes.
To sum up:
Firstly, the blockchain platform gives users complete control over who uses their personal data and how.
Secondly, unlike centralized networks, where a huge amount of information is protected by a single system, distributed ledger technology stores copies of the network on the devices of all users, which means that it is almost impossible to hack such a network.
Thirdly, blockchain can also improve automation. Thanks to smart contracts, blockchain platforms will simultaneously interact with each other on behalf of the user, and much better than now.
Finally, distributed ledger technology will enhance the security of the social platform by storing data across multiple decentralized nodes.
Likewise, blockchain will transform Big Data, as we each begin to develop our own portable ID on a blockchain that sweeps up all this transactional data, so that we can use it to plan our lives and monetize it if we want and also protect our privacy. Blockchain has also enabled the creation of new and highly powerful communication networks designed to upend censorship, enabling the truth to be verified, not by filters or algorithms, but by the consensus of the community, where real people attest to content being true, spam or otherwise.
Overall, blockchain has a groundbreaking social media application, as it is a tool that could transform human communications through the power of decentralization, to achieve a new kind of publishing house that has unprecedented levels of security, incentivized engagement and interactivity among the users. It resembles the first example of a truth platform built on a trust protocol. For those who have never had an opportunity to speak the language of freedom, it’s the beginning of something quite extraordinary.
Could decentralized technologies be the key to weakening their impact on our social life online, while improving our connections with like-minded people and communities and protecting our data?
The answer is unambiguous: social networks may be decentralized in the future, and some of them already are.
The big question however is, will the current giants be able to add decentralization to themselves, and can the current decentralized products become popular?
This is the question to be answered.
Here is a link to an awesome video for you to learn more about the topic of Social Media on the Blockchain: AKASHA Ushers in a new era of censorship-resistant communications with @Don Tapscott
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