Increased Innovation In Decentralized Social Networks Space Spurred By Ownership Uncertainty Of Traditional Platforms – Social Media | #socialmedia



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In light of Elon Musk’s recent offer to buy Twitter, Inc.
(“Twitter”) there has been a resurgence in the desire to
develop decentralized social media platforms. In efforts to avoid
being at the whim of a single company or individual, the promise of
user autonomy and control in a decentralized social network has
spurred recent developments in the space.

What is a Decentralized Social Network?

Decentralized social networks are not a new concept. A
decentralized social network, as opposed to its traditional,
centralized counterpart, runs on multiple independent distributed
servers rather than one centralized server. This difference results
in decentralized social networks operating in fundamentally
different ways than centralized social networks—especially in
aspects concerning user autonomy and control. On one hand,
decentralized social networks are not controlled by a single
individual or entity. On the other hand, traditional, centralized
social networks are owned by a single entity or individual that
possesses the ability to unilaterally control and make changes
throughout the network.

As a result, decentralized social networks are more resistant to
censorship and provide users with more control over their personal
data and content. For example, many decentralized social media
platforms allow participants to directly monetize their content by
compensating participants based on positive interactions from other
users on the network. For example, the likes an individual receives
on a post could correspond to the amount of money that individual
makes from that post.

Decentralized social networks represent a small part of Web3
technologies. Web3 follows on the heels of the previous iterations
of the World Wide Web: Web1 and Web2. Web1 was the first iteration
of the World Wide Web and focused on content delivery to end-users
and largely consisted of static webpages. Web2, the current
iteration of the World Wide Web, incorporated more end-user-created
content allowing for a greater interaction and collaboration, thus
resulting in a more social internet. Web3, often regarded as the
up-and-coming iteration of the World Wide Web, is a version of the
World Wide Web that is implemented on decentralized blockchains.
Web3 represents a shift from the traditional centralized
environment used in Web1 and Web2 and instead adopts a
decentralized peer-to-peer structure. This decentralized set-up
allows users to fully own and control their digital identities by
providing users with the authority to decide how and when their
data is used.

Recent Developments

Aave, a
decentralized finance lending platform, is one of the most recent
innovators in this space. Last month Aave announced that its Lens
Protocol went live and included around 50 applications that debuted
with the platform. The Lens Protocol is a social graph providing an
underlying protocol to build social apps upon. Instead of using
emails and usernames like traditional social media platforms, the
Lens Protocol leverages crypto addresses and non-fungible tokens
(NFTs) to authenticate users and facilitate monetization. Stani
Kulechov, founder of Aave, expresses the vision for the Lens
Protocol stating that “[o]wnership over not only the content
you create online but also your profile and social network is long
overdue. Empowering users is what Lens aims to achieve.”

A few of weeks ago, Twitter’s own decentralized social
network project, BlueSky, released its “Authenticated Data
eXperiment” (ADX) protocol code in a blog post. The blog post
is titled “Working in Public” to signify that the
developers at BlueSky intend for the development process to be
transparent and available to the public. ADX is still a work in
progress but the fundamental goal is to leverage
self-authenticating data to create portability between different
ADX services. This feature would allow a user to change hosting
providers while also transferring data created on one ADX service
to the next. The result would be a larger, more interconnected
network.

DeSo, short
for “decentralized social”, is another decentralized
social network with major developments lately. Recently, DeSo
surpassed 67.5 million transactions in a little over 14 months
since it was created—a feat that took Ethereum, a
blockchain-based platform funded by the Ethereum Foundation, a
little over 26.3 months. DeSo users have a “DeSo”
identity which is a portable profile that transfers across multiple
DeSo applications. DeSo allows anyone to build and run a
decentralized social media platform within the DeSo ecosystem. The
multiplicity of social media platforms in the DeSo ecosystem gives
users the opportunity to choose which social media platforms they
interact with. In this way, users in the DeSo ecosystem have the
power to control what type of content they receive—often by
choosing to participate in social media applications that do not
derive revenue from ads.

The shift to decentralized social media platforms creates an
environment ripe for innovation causing pioneers in this space to
seek and secure patents on new technology. For example, just
recently a patent covering blockchain-based content
engagement platforms was issued to Artema Labs, Inc., a block-chain
based Web3 start-up located in Venice, CA. Another pending patent application filed by an
individual inventor and published in 2020 teaches “a system,
method, and apparatus for an online content platform and a related
cryptocurrency.” As this space grows, there will likely be an
increase in similar patent filings.

The emergence of decentralized social media networks also
signals an emerging issue in litigation—who should be held
liable for the content on these networks? A class action lawsuit filed in the Southern
District of California on May 2, 2022 analogizes decentralized
autonomous organizations (DAOs) similar to the decentralized
networks discussed in this article as being akin to traditional
general partnerships in which every member is personally
liable for the actions and obligations of the network. Because the
law is still unclear as to who will be held liable in these
networks, the outcome of this case and other emerging litigations
in this space will have a major impact on the future of
decentralized social networks.

The Future for Decentralized Social Networks

Decentralized social networks present the potential for a major
paradigm shift for social media platforms. However, the growth of
these networks largely hinges on the widespread adoption of Web3,
the upcoming decentralized iteration of the Internet. While the
major social media platforms likely won’t be losing followers
en masse to their decentralized analogs any time soon, it is worth
watching this space as concerns over ownership and control rise in
these traditional platforms.

Here are the official posts about the recent developments for
your reference: Lens Protocol Launch | Bluesky’s ADX Protocol | DeSo Press Release |

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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