Blockchain as a force for societal change is possibly the most revolutionary change many of us will witness in our lifetimes. Social media, on the other hand, is the modern face of friendship.
Let’s look at 4 companies evolving how we engage with social media, blockchain-style.
Steemit is a social media app, the first built on parent platform Steem, which by now hosts an array of blockchain solutions enabling token distribution reward systems (called SMTs, or Smart Media Tokens).
Steemit has been around since June 2016, and has the honor of being the first social site on the blockchain. First, following the path of most new tech startups, it was embraced by cutting-edge users most likely to shudder at being called “consumers.”
This, of course, is a trait that runs across most of the current adopters of social blockchain sites. Adoption usually follows a linear path from the early adopters and early majority through to the eventual laggards once even the late majority has come on board. Steem calls its token reward algorithm Proof-of-Brain, a welcoming nudge in the direction of its initial avant-garde user community.
Adoption might be far-off from a Facebook comparison, but Steemit has been at it for years, faced with the challenge of teaching about blockchain as much as signing on new users. With a 920,800 user count, chances are that by now, at least some of your friends are posting links to their Steemit posts on their Facebook walls, hoping to poach their network over to the other online world they’re crafting. This one happens to pay them, so no wonder.
That, it just so happens, is what Steemit is all about.
We built Steemit on Steem to show the world the future of the web. We built it to inspire new digital content business models and apps by entrepreneurs and developers.
- Providing a value-added public content platform
- Removing the barriers to publishing monetization
- Hosting the internet’s best-of-the-best content
- Enabling entrepreneurs and developers a platform to develop and scale the digital content economy
How it Works
As a social media user, you enter the world of publishing. What used to be notoriously tricky (getting an audience to listen to your thoughts and opinions), became a cinch with the growing web.
Yet, for all those hours we spend on the social network giants, we have little to show for it other than notifications of likes, comments, and retweets. It requires reading half the internet to understand how to make money from these platforms. And that’s if we’re out to make money.
Steemit is a blogging platform that gives publishers (yes, that’s you, even if all you do is rant about politics) the opportunity to get paid just because they posted. The more people like what they read, the more upvotes your post gets. Like reddit, only here there’s money in it for you. Because in Steemit terms, upvotes mean Steemit tokens.
So much, in fact, that since their launch, the site’s paid out a total of US$40,154,371. Tokens are tradeable on platforms like Poloniex, Bittrex, and OpenLedger, and can thus be converted into cold, hard cash. That’s incentive enough to make anyone want to take their “My year of backpacking around the planet” pics off Facebook and repost them where the money is.
But that’s not the best part. Even likes and comments get rewarded (fractions though it may be—but if you’re brutally honest, you’re spending far too much time on non-paying social sites already). Go check out some of their 1.5 million monthly posts to get a feel for what they’re all about. You’ll likely end up earning tokens yourself.
Move Over, reddit
Of course, the cool cats over at reddit have been trending an informal, unofficial in-house incentivizing system for a while now. And reddit is reddit, a gladly-get-lost-in-it maze we all love. So while Steemit won’t be, in my opinion, a competitor for reddit anytime soon (if ever), it’s becoming the Big R’s baby brother. Unlike reddit, you’re more likely to get rewarded than banned.
By now, we’re all pretty spooked by the whole “You are the product” principle. It’s all good and well if you’re falling for Black Friday freebies (they’re all just building their mailing list, ya know), but when it comes to our online social selves (which can be just as, or even greater than, our actual selves), we unquestionably assumed some semblance of sanctity in the wheelings and dealings of the companies we blindly hand our data to. Back in the day, we made fun of our tin foil hats friends warning us to “keep your data safe!” Now we’re inviting them over for a cuppa to score some privacy tips.
Then there’s fake news. Oh, boy. The small but deadly weapon that seems to hold in its hand the power to make empires rise and fall. What a time to be alive… and still use the same old archaic (and scarily powerful) social media sites that appear to be fundamentally flawed when having our best interests at heart.
Sapien might, along with all the other startups on this list, be a new kid on the block, but they’re steadily rising to fame and fandom. Raising US$11 million within the first two hours of their ICO going live was just the start.
Could Sapien be the main character in a next-gen social media site we all flock to after we abandon our not-owned-by-us data on our Facebook profiles? Judging from the mission and values that govern this blockchain startup, it just might be.
Take back your social experience.
Sapien is a Web 3.0 social news platform that gives users control of their data, rewards content creators, and fights fake news.
(From their website)
- Democracy: Users should have a say in the communities that they are part of.
- Privacy: Whether you want to be famous or anonymous, your data on Sapien belongs to YOU.
- Free Speech: A fundamental principle that should be protected with disruptive tools.
- Customizability: Each user should be able to tailor a social experience to their liking
- Transparent and doesn’t see ICOs as a free-for-all (read their rationale behind a US$30 million hard cap)
- A true Jedi in the fight against fake news. ‘Nuff said. Except that Sapien’s all about users and truth, and that’s just what the social media doctors ordered.
How it Works
Sapien users need to hold SPN tokens to access the platform, which is currently live in beta. This might seem a deterrent (who wants to pay—even a minuscule amount—to access a social media site?) — however, it’s in this very strategy that lies Sapien’s magic power.
Because all those bots and trolls that can make social media a living (and fake) nightmare, they won’t be paying a dime. Haven’t you caught yourself saying, “I’ll pay to make them stop?” Now you can.
Putting their money where their mouth is privacy-wise, Sapien lets you switch between using the network in public or private mode. We all live in fear of Facebook launching a “Who stalked your profile at 2 a.m.” feature. Sapien’s got your back. What’s a big one-up on our usual social go-to site, is their personal data protection and encrypted chat.
As a social media site, Sapien functions much like the ones we’re used to (that’s what we require, after all), but makes the overall experience more dynamic and engaging thanks to being highly customizable and offering handy features such as voice channels for an immersive social experience.
Move Over, Facebook
Cos it’s time. Way past time. We’ve been waiting for an alternative with bated breath.
Plus, now that everyone’s grandma is on Facebook and our feeds have more celeb lookalike tests and other spammy links than one person could do in their lifetime, it’s time to mix things up a little. Adventure awaits! Head to Sapien’s beta to get in on the action.
Before you switched off your LinkedIn notifications for “Get an email when someone endorses my skills,” I bet you wanted to pull your hair out. Especially when the 200th person in your network endorsed you for Microsoft Word.
LinkedIn might be our playground, but it’s a far cry from vetting our skills against our showpieces. Ever had an “urgent” request from a connection asking you to write them a recommendation. Yeah. Those people you didn’t even know you had as a connection (or that they even existed on this planet) now wants you to write a letter about how great they are at what they do. #rantover
Trust in blockchain to come up with relevant solutions to outdated or broken models. Enter Indorse.
Next-generation professional skills validation is in the house. Indorse picks up where LinkedIn has failed to deliver: skills endorsements that are based on merit, thanks to a business model that rests on members engaged in vetting each others’ skill sets.
Get ready for the skill age.
- Evolving professional social networking for the 21st century
- Building a world in which professional representation is built on reputation, not lip service
- Supporting the advent of a skills economy
- Enabling crowd economics 2.0
- Growing the cryptographic token ecosystem
- Putting data ownership in the user’s hands
How it Works
Indorse has a novel take on skills validation. By utilizing decentralized consensus, randomly assigned users can anonymously judge a user’s given skills set. For providing this peer-to-peer service, users will be rewarded with IND tokens, which they can use to pay for advertising on the site, or spend it on an Indorse-hosted company page they own.
Additionally, Indorse could also employ AI chatbots to provide automatic real-time validation.
Not only will you sport your very own reputation score (reminiscent of Klout, only this time it won’t be who you know but what you know), but your career path will be “on the blockchain.” And that just sounds uber cool.
Best of all, for all us blockchain investors: Indorse’s connection validations feature will ensure an easy spot-check when it comes to checking if advisors listed in the white paper really are advisors. Of course, this feature will come in equally handy in just about any industry.
Move Over, LinkedIn
Definitely not a replacement for LinkedIn, at least not at present, but Indorse could prove to be a highly valuable addition in the working world’s social proof arena. And who knows, LinkedIn could always end up following MySpace down the catacombs of history. Go sign up!
What happens when Steemit’s parent blockchain Steem has a video baby? DTube’s what they’d call it.
DTube is an excellent example of a third-party app built on the Steem blockchain, of which Steemit was the first. (Note: DTube is independently owned and managed, and has no affiliation to Steem other than utilizing its blockchain.)
It’s a small wonder that the reason we’re so psyched about social media alternatives is that our current destinations have started sucking in more ways than one. In DTube’s case, think anti-censorship and not syphoning money away from the creators that have made you who you are (here’s looking at you, YouTube).
Once upon a time, YouTube was called “the people’s platform” and named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Ah, the good old days, before YouTube morphed into a 1984 censorship baddie.
Some of YouTube’s rationale behind blocking content includes preventing criticism of governments and religions, violations of national laws, youth-inappropriate content, and limiting public exposure to content that may ignite social or political unrest
While some of these reasons are 100% legit, some are no more than having our minds made up for us… or keeping us in the dark. Think the account suspension of Egyptian anti-torture activist Wael Abbas, who used YouTube to showcase videos of police brutality in Egypt.
And then there’s advertising. YouTube is YouTube because of its middleman status. The company itself creates no content; it merely acts as a marketplace of sorts for publishers and viewers to find each other. So when PewDiePie, the world’s most popular vlogger, declared “Adpocalypse” in 2017, showing his fans how his revenue had taken a nosedive, it mimicked what countless YouTube creators already knew: Your money is not your own.
After a 2018 update, small fry creators are being kicked out of YouTube’s advertising programme in droves, leading one to question whose agenda they’re catering to. “The people’s platform” is no more.
Building “the first crypto-decentralized video platform.”
- Resisting censorship
- No hidden algorithms affecting visibility or monetization
- Incentivizing creators for their content
- Staying ads free
How it Works
DTube is a decentralized video platform built on the Steem blockchain and uses IPFS, torrents’ (and HTTP’s) next-gen, as static file storage. YouTube as “we the people” is so 2006. DTube embodies this title down to a tee. The platform, being decentralized, cannot censor or enforce guidelines, so content is 100% crowd controlled via upvotes or downvotes.
Creators upload content and are assured that their videos are seen. Not fancy schmancy YouTube tricks. If users like what they see, they upvote a video, and the creator gets paid. With payouts starting at just 2 cents, money is within reach at the click of a button. YouTube’s demonetization tactics could soon become a historical headache for creators.
For users, behold! The video gods listened to our pleas: DTube is ad-frigging-free. If you use YouTube to blast out a good playlist, you’re all too familiar with the horrifying moment when you’re into one song, gearing up for the next, and on comes an ad. Urgh. While creators have the ability to add ads to individual videos, DTube warns they may do so “at their own risk of losing their subscribers.”
Move Over, YouTube
We saw what you did and it just ain’t cool. The times they are a’changing. Plus, no pesky ads on this one. And you get paid for likes and not the number of views. A total win.
In an interesting yet ironic non-fiction meta twist, our feature on social media platforms can, itself, be prodded and examined for proof of the evolution of social media. While most platforms still opt to offer their users a touch-base via traditional social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, DTube breaks away entirely, offering contact points only via uber-modern social media solutions.
In so doing, they provide a fascinating snapshot of what life might look like post-usual.
What will Social Media: Blockchain Edition look like? Forward march, let’s start posting and see!