What is Blockchain in Social Media and How to Gain from This Opportunity

Blockchain in Social Media: Potential Impact and Benefits

Looking back into 2017, one of the major developments was the complete acknowledgement of blockchain technology in the mainstream. This was perhaps due to Bitcoin’s unexpected rise in value, jumping from around $1000 USD in January 2017 to $17,900 USD by December 17.

Dating back to 2009, when Satoshi Nakamoto developed the world’s foremost cryptocurrency Bitcoin; blockchain was only used as a public ledger for storing Bitcoin transactions back then. From relative obscurity, Blockchain has gone on to become the most disruptive technology currently, with several thousands of cryptocurrencies already created.

A lot of industries have felt the impact of blockchain technology, which isn’t surprising anyway, considering its immense potential. Among these industries is the content industry – or more appropriately, the social media industry. Believe it or not, blockchain has helped shape social media, with features such as decentralization, security and scalability being important ones.

To the uninitiated, any talk about implementing blockchain technology in the social media space would seem like a big joke. The argument would be “what else does blockchain have to offer an industry filled with ‘giants’ competing amongst themselves for supremacy?”

Blockchain in itself is a ‘giant killer’ (pardon the pun) which has the potential of disrupting the social media industry. And that is what this article has set out to explain in detail: the potential (hugely-positive) impact of blockchain technology in the social media industry and how the industry can benefit from its adoption.

All set? Okay. Onward we go!

David Kadavy an American Writer, used to post on Facebook without expecting to be payed, but now he uses Steemit, a blockchain technology social media site which pays its users to post with  their currency called Steem.

I feel like I’m in the Stone Age when I’m on Facebook or Twitter… they have no value without what you’re contributing to them. If Facebook doesn’t respond to this, things can change very quickly. They should be very concerned

David Kadavy, user of Steemit on Bloomerang

So, Facebook has no value without its users unless they pay them.

What is Blockchain in Social Media?

Did I answer this question above? Blockchain technology on social media means that you are going to get paid to post content on them. Could this be the future of social media.

It seems like the number of social media using the blockchain technology is increasing and so is the number of people who are using them.

These sites pay you in tokens and tokens can be exchanged for dollars so why not gain from this opportunity?

Here are some social media platforms which are using the blockchain technology:

Sapien (sapien.network), is a news platform built on the Ethereum blockchain capable.

But how is this platform different from other social medias?

Sam Mathews thinks that “modern social news sites are both obsolete and dangerous.”

In contrast he describes the experience that Sapiens brings as folows:

Sapien rewrites the social network experience to champion the user and the truth while leveraging the powerful capabilities of the blockchain. In doing so, the Sapien team hopes to build a brighter social future that brings out the best in people, their creations, and their ideas without sacrificing the importance of transparency and accuracy.”

Steemit (steemit.com) was one of the first platforms (maybe the very first) to pay its users for the content published.

In fact, the value of its currency, Steem, has greatly increased since it was created, which means that you can make more dollars when you exchange it, and the same true for other social media which use blockchain. People are buying them expecting that their value will appreciate again.

This is interesting, I wander how much the value of these currencies will be in a year from now, or five years from now.

If people could get paid for a Facebook “like” this could really change the game. More and more people would be willing to engage on this kind of money-making method.

It is said that this also would reduce the amount of fake accounts on social media.

Will the value of social media currencies grow?

A lot of people claim that this could be the future of social media. But a lot of them also say that investing on any cryptocurrnecy is too risky and you have to be prepared to lose. However, I believe that paying people for their engagement on social media will actually be the future of social media and that the value of these cryptocurrencies can only increase.

In fact, David Cadavy, mentioned at the beginning of this post claims that he has made $2,000 during January on Steemit.


How Blockchain Technology Could Benefit the Social Media Industry

Blockchain is already being branded “the future of technology” by a lot of people (which is understandable), and we’ll be looking at key areas of blockchain technology which social media is most likely to benefit from.

1. User Privacy Protection

For quite a number of years, social media giants like Facebook and YouTube were among the big guns of the tech industry as a whole. Obviously, most of social media revenue comes from advertising. However, both companies have recently come under fire for their actions, an indication that user privacy and data misuse is still a major issue in the social media industry, as evidenced in recent happenings in the industry.

For instance, the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal which involved the harvesting of personally identifiable information of about 87 million Facebook users. Using a method branded as “improper”, Cambridge Analytica was said to have started collecting in 2014, with the collected data used to influence the opinions of voters in favour of politicians who hired the company. Although the company in question is already making plans to shut down, it is said that this move would not stop an investigation into the scandal.

Okay, moving away from the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica saga. First, a problem of such magnitude wouldn’t have risen if it was a blockchain-based social media platform – it’d have been minimal, to say the least. This is because of the decentralized nature of blockchain which takes the power from the creators of the platform and gives it to the people they were originally meant to serve: the end users.

Decentralization on blockchain networks makes it impossible for data harvesting and breach of privacy, using cryptography to protect user information. Information (personal information, transaction details, employee information, analytics and user tracking data – you name it) is signed using public and private keys and stored on the decentralized public ledger (in form of timestamped transactions).

  1. Improved Security

Blockchains, public and private keys, huh? (Hey folks, how about we take a minute to explain to the newbies what these mean?) Okay, picture this: you’re standing in a locker room with several hundred lockers. All the lockers have tags on them which lets each person identify their locker but to open a particular locker, you would still need a key/combination/PIN (I know. Duh.)

This should be the simplest explanation (although in reality, it’s much more complex): the locker room is a blockchain network; the public key being the tag and the private key being the combination/key. The public key is the transaction hash (TxID), which is a unique – and of course, random – set of letters and numbers which contains publicly available transaction information (basically sending address, receiving address and transaction timestamp).

The private key is the most important part of the key pair; as it enables the holder, whoever they are [even if they’re not the authorized owner(s)], to gain access to information stored in that transaction block.

Okay, let’s digress a bit.

Recently, in what was described as a ‘token heist’, cryptocurrency ICO reviewer and YouTuber Ian Balina was hacked out of $2 million worth of various ERC20 tokens during a livestream. He was conducting ICO reviews on his channel, when a viewer alerted him that all his tokens had been moved from his wallet. A series of events happened, and Balina later came out to say that his wallet was accessed through his college email (imagine how far that goes).

According to him, he stored text versions of his private keys as encrypted files in his Evernote (whaaa?!). To think a crypto expert would know better than to store private keys on Evernote (encrypted or not, it’s a big risk) but then, it could happen to anyone of us. The hacker(s) was able to gain access to his Evernote through the old email.

He however said that the FBI believe to have identified the attacker(s), adding that it would take a while to recover the stolen funds (given that the attack was conducted outside the US).

I’m sure a lot of you guys heard about the incident but this was just to underscore the importance of discretion and taking necessary precautions against such attacks. The fact that you hold millions in cryptocurrency doesn’t mean you should brag about it to other users on the Internet (although that wasn’t the case here, it also happens in the crypto community).

Also, never store your keys on the Internet (Dropbox, Evernote, whatnot – don’t do it). If you hold coins worth more than a month’s pay, then you should be seriously considering getting a hardware wallet. Or better still, use cold storage.

Again, “private keys”.

3. Decentralized Storage of Data

Also, decentralized storage of data on a blockchain implies that ledger data is no more stored in a single location/server/database (whichever one you choose) but it is shared into bits and distributed to the nodes on the blockchain. As a result, the public ledger for storing transactions exists in bits stored on functioning nodes (i.e. computers on the network who have a copy of that blockchain stored on them). This is why blockchain is also known as Distributed Ledger Technology, DLT.

So, what exactly does decentralization bring to the social media industry? Well, the ‘reigning’ social media platforms are fundamentally centralized. Information sensitive enough to be targeted in malicious attacks should never be stored in central locations. The Internet has lost hundreds of billions to cybercrime and hacking.

Thousands – if not millions – of social media users have become victims of data harvesting, identity theft, hacking and invasion of privacy. A viable solution is for the industry to adopt decentralized blockchain technology to actively combat the problem of inappropriate data gathering and malicious prevent attacks.

4. Tokenization for Profit

Another way by which the social media industry could benefit from blockchain technology is through tokenization of their information. Tokenization gives the power back to users by allowing them to decide who they give access to their data and what they do with it.

On a blockchain-based social media platform, users could earn some money by performing tasks, posting videos and GIFs, uploading pictures, writing short blogs and similar things. Although all these can also be done on “non-blockchain” social media platforms, blockchain allows them to earn from them.

Apart from that, blockchain could also enable social media users to earn a small percentage of the total revenue which social media platforms earn from advertising. As said earlier, advertising is a major source of revenue in the social media industry. Since ads are targeted at users, they would be shown ads in return for some tokens.

The earned tokens can then be exchanged on crypto exchanges for Fiat, if they wish to.

The fact that they can earn some money makes blockchain-based social media platforms much more appealing to people.

  1. Scalability

One of the beautiful (yes! beautiful) features of blockchain technology is scalability. Scalability enables a blockchain network to ‘grow’ as the volume of transactions increases. For a blockchain-based social media platform, this means that as more users jump on board, the blockchain would be able to scale to meet requirements at optimal performance.

The global economy is now facing a positively-disruptive innovation heralded by blockchain technology, and the social media industry will surely not be left out of this technological revolution.

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