Today’s social media landscape is dominated by Web2 companies, mostly Meta (Facebook) and Twitter. These companies collect data from billions of users and generate billions of dollars in revenue from user-generated content. Great for companies and their shareholders, but comes at a price for average users and professional content creators.
But in the near future, decentralized social media (or Web3) could end that old model by giving power back to users.
No more banning unruly users
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are centralized, leaving users at the mercy of company bosses who demand compliance with platform policies. If users don’t comply, they can lose years of content and followers in a matter of seconds.
A famous example is the Twitter ban against former President Donald Trump. Trump’s views may be debated, but Twitter management’s decision did not include his millions of Twitter users, who make the platform so valuable. It turns out that Web2 users have little control over decisions related to content on Twitter. Even if they create value for the company.
The beauty of Web3? Corporate bosses will no longer be able to dictate who is allowed to use their platform.
Another Problem with Web2 Social Networks? Walled Gardens
Another problem with Web2 social media is that it features a “walled garden”. If you have 1 million followers on Instagram and want to start an account on YouTube, you have to start with zero followers. Audiences are connected to individual platforms, not you, so there is no way to move them. This also applies to platforms owned by the same company, such as Facebook and Instagram.
Related: Decentralized Social Media: What’s Crypto’s Next Big Problem?
Web3 reduces the number of middlemen, creates an open ecosystem, enables new forms of monetization, and introduces solutions that empower individuals, not just their content, but their followers.
New blockchain on the horizon
Multiple platforms have launched potential replacements for Web2’s social media industry. They include Lens Protocol from the Aave team and his DeSo backed by Andreessen Horowitz. Both are built to host decentralized social media apps. There are already many live applications such as Lenster, Phaver, Iris (decentralized Twitter) and LensTube (decentralized YouTube).
how do they work? For example, Lens allows users to leverage Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to directly link their content and followers to their cryptocurrency wallets. This means there is zero dependency on individual platforms as we retain cross-platform access to our followers.
When you post something, it’s automatically shared across all the platforms you use. Also, followers are linked across platforms, so all platforms have the same number of followers. In Web2 terms, it’s like having an account linked directly to the Internet instead of one linked to Facebook’s closed ecosystem.
Direct user monetization instead of ads
Another feature of Web3 Social Media is that users can monetize their creations directly, instead of generating revenue from advertising. This model incentivizes users to publish better content. It is simplified by allowing authors to set a fee for “collecting” their posts, or setting a fee for following them. Revenue flows directly to the creator, not the platform.
Influencers accelerate adoption
Some critics argue that Web2 social media is off to such a head start that it is impossible for Web3 social media to catch up. But the reality is that the benefits of decentralized social media are so great that large content creators will migrate and engage their audiences.
Related: The metaverse changes the content creation paradigm
There are already many examples of high-profile influencers who have their own social media platforms, as corporate platforms no longer allow content sharing. Web3 offers a clear solution to his ever-growing Web2 exile.
Do you offer ownership over your content and followers? An easy way to generate income from their work? Connect everything with an easy-to-use NFT? What should you complain about? Blockchain technology has brought about a social media space that rewards users, not platforms, better than anything dreamed of in the past.
Darius Moukhtarzadeh is a cryptocurrency entrepreneur focused on decentralized social media applications. He previously worked as a researcher at Sygnum, the world’s first digital asset bank. He also worked at Ernst & Young’s blockchain consultancy and Swiss Crypto He Valley startups.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views or opinions of Cointelegraph.