Blockchain enthusiast developer and writer. My telegram: ksshilov
Let’s take a step back into the past, to a time before Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder, back before Yelp and Amazon, going back even before MySpace. If you could travel back to that time and tell people what the world would be like today, would they believe you?
Imagine telling someone who has 42 physical photo albums (you know, the big ones that weigh 10 pounds each) that all of their pictures will be uploaded “into the cloud” in the future. What if you told them that modern dating would involve “swiping” on a profile, that we would pick restaurants based on “stars” and the “number of reviews” a business has.
A lot has certainly changed since then, but in the grand scheme of things, a lot has stayed the same. Social networks have arguably only made us more human by giving us the ever-increasing ability to interact with more people, more often, in more ways. The main things that have changed are how people make money off advertising, and as time has gone passed, that interaction has become more and more one-sided. The future of purchases may pivot to social networks, but can social networks grow to that capacity without becoming more transparent?
To recap, the blockchain is an immutable, transparent, and decentralized technology that can be used as the underlying database for many different applications. Social networks, on the other hand, have become sneaky data collectors who sell their users’ information and give the user nothing in return. So what happens when we combine the two?
There are already blockchain-based platforms out there trying to help increase the ad experience, both for the user and the business. The blockchain can create a more genuine user advertisement experience by paying users to interact with ads. An example of this is Brave, an open-source blockchain-based browser where instead of having your browser page flooded with popup and banner ads, you’re asked in an unobtrusive way to view an advertiser’s website (this would probably be something you are already interested in), click around, and then be paid for your time.
Unrestricted social interaction
Social media networks curate your feed, but you can’t know whether or not that’s in your best interest. People want to interact in an unrestricted manner without anyone controlling what they see, so with MINDS, a blockchain-based social network, your own preferences control your information feed using an open-source solution where the community members can vett its protocols.
Issue of trust
It’s hard to trust what’s real and what’s fake for any review site. A study by the Washington Post found that a massive number of reviews on Amazon were fake, which is a huge deal. The blockchain can fix this by creating an accountability chain, so that businesses can’t make fake accounts to post reviews of their own product. The blockchain could give consumers a space they can actually trust when searching for product information, as we can see with Uunio’s solution.
The future of social media
These aspects of social media are becoming ever more important with each passing data leak, and since people aren’t going to stop using social media, we need to find a happy medium between transparency and decentralization to secure our data. Looking toward the future, there are a few things that seem pretty consistent: people want to interact, people have opinions on products/services/experiences, and people want to make money on that information. The main things that need to change is “Who is making the money?” and “Where is our data?”
There are a few companies creating different platforms that may shape the future of how social networks and making purchases interact. Sessia is a blockchain company aiming to create a social network where users can interact with one another, other businesses, and online services. Facebook is entering the blockchain space with Libra and wants to integrate cryptocurrency into their existing social networks. Snax is trying to build a social media platform where the contributors of quality posts can be paid directly for their work (instead of just earning money through ads).
Let’s break these three down into different categories and see where each of them benefits the users the most.
Facebook: Users aren’t rewarded for anything, even if their post or page goes viral. Even with the introduction of Libra, only the capital investors will earn money on the currency, as regular users can only hold it (as a stable coin).
Sessia: Users can be rewarded for authentically interacting with brands. For instance, after visiting a restaurant (and posting a picture of the receipt) they can get kickbacks if their friends “like” the post and visit the same restaurant in the future.
Snax: Users are paid directly for publishing content that the community enjoys. The benefit of this is that advertisers aren’t making the money, the writers are, and the community decides what is good quality and worthy of payment.
Improving the advertisement experience
Sessia: Advertisements on Sessia will always come in the form of a social feed, and most often they are only based on what your friends/family are buying or interested in. When you click on a post you’ll see your friends’ thoughts and an ad about the product, giving you two sides to the story to better evaluate the content.
Snax: Advertisements are still around on the page, and there can still be authors posting promotional articles. As mentioned above, the content is all vetted by the community, so it is still possible for a completely false article to go viral.
Facebook: Ads are everywhere and often designed to look like posts from your real friends. This type of click-bait advertising is considered intrusive and could lead to a loss of trust from the users.
Snax: As mentioned above, anyone can write on Snax and there is no guarantee that they are being truthful. Much like a modern Instagram influencer, popularity doesn’t necessarily mean authenticity.
Facebook: Anyone can review any page or business, anyone can post anything to Facebook Marketplace, and anyone can write any claim they want without verification. On the flipside, there is no real incentive for someone to rave about how good a restaurant is because they won’t be rewarded. According to ZenDesk, people are more likely to talk about an experience when it is bad, making it even less likely that someone is going to talk about a restaurant unsolicited.
Sessia: Users cannot review a restaurant, a product, or an event without verifying their experience through the SessiaMarket. This can be either by providing a picture of a receipt, scanning a special QR code at the business, or having the company verify their online purchase. This accountability helps ensure that bad businesses or products aren’t pumped with fake reviews to trick customers into buying them.
Sessia: This is where Sessia shines, since their entire business revolves around social interactions leading to organic purchases. The SessiaMarket is filled with vendors and restaurants that have been vetted and reviewed by authentic users, all of which you can verify on their blockchain. Money made on the Sessia app can be spent on other things within the app, making it easy to earn and spend without using fiat currency.
Facebook: Once Libra launches and is integrated with the Facebook Marketplace it will be easy to purchase items using crypto, but the accountability is still lacking. Without having a trustworthy system to back up their marketplace items, it will still be the buyers’ responsibility to independently vet their purchases using information from other sources.
It’s the worst kept secret that Facebook abuses data; we all just keep ignoring it because we have nowhere else to turn. But companies like Brave, Sessia, and Snax are all working hard to protect user information while finding ways to reward those users for their genuine interactions. Who knows, maybe one day we'll look back on this era of technology and think “How strange was the world was before the blockchain?”
Hopefully. Blockchain absolutely has the ability to improve the way we interact with and use social media, especially when advertisements and money are put into the mix. It would be great if all social media platforms could make the shift to blockchain to help prevent huge data leaks (and intentional data selling), because at least then users could be rewarded for the information they are generating. We all have an opinion, so wouldn’t it be great to be rewarded for sharing it?