(Updated: November 20, 2018)
Recent trends in social media and social news are disturbing. Twitter and Reddit are notorious for abuse and cyberbullying from trolls and bots. Instagram now inundates us with carefully selected images of other people’s filtered, “perfect” lives.
And Facebook has become a behemoth of fake news, overwhelming ad campaigns, and exploitative, in-the-shadows data harvesting, spurring campaigns that call for users to “Delete Facebook.”
In the process, Facebook has lost 30% of its value. Since Facebook’s inception, Mark Zuckerberg has used the free price tag of his platform to justify increasingly invasive methods of selling personal data to advertisers. Scandals with Cambridge Analytica and Russian trolls have made these invasions even more manipulable and harmful.
It has become clear that the old, centralized model of social media is prone to abuse by its very design. Because Web 2.0 technology entities are centralized authorities, it is impossible to hold them accountable or to protect their users from exploitation. The business models of these platforms revolve around extractive data farming and targeted analytics, not transparent and fair content monetization.
Sapien was conceived to remedy these flaws. It heralds a revolutionary blockchain social news platform, built on Web 3.0, that returns control of personal data to its users, incentivizes them to create high-quality content monetization, and reduces fake news. Sapien hopes to become the premier blockchain social network.
Here, we take a closer look at just how Sapien plans to achieve that.
You’ve Got Problems? Sapien Has Solutions
Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Sapien is a decentralized platform for disseminating news content.
By committing themselves to upholding free speech, privacy, and democracy on their platform, the Sapien Team aims to combat problems that proliferate in traditional social media, such as:
- Lack of versatility for different types of content
- Unfair system for rewarding content creators
- Bots and fake news
- Centralized control of personal data
- Siloed content and restrictive or leading advertising
The Sapien Platform
Sapien provides an all-encompassing platform for users to publish, access, and view content. Instead of using Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for different forms of news and media, you can use Sapien for everything: articles, videos, images, gifs, and much, much more.
But the platform itself is much more than just a virtual bulletin board. Powered by the SPN token (more on that below), Sapien offers users a variety of token rewards. The ability to toggle between public and private browsing means that users can visit and interact with content as themselves or anonymously.
A subscriptions feature is planned in the development roadmap that will allow you to customize your Sapien account, filter content, and stay up to date with the latest news stories and posts by your friends.
Sapien also offers the ability for you to add friends to your network, form groups and tribes, peruse public profiles, and share and comment on posts. A planned chat feature will allow for both text and voice chatting.
But where Sapien truly wants to excel is in its planned encryption feature, ensuring that all of your data – and even your chats, if you opt for it – are secure and private.
Token Rewards Engine
Content creators are barely compensated on centralized platforms like Facebook and YouTube, which exploit their work and make billions in ad revenue.
Sapien cuts out the intermediary by rewarding content creators directly through peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions. So if you spend your time and resources to create a post, a podcast, a meme, etc., you will be compensated for it in cryptocurrency (assuming the community deems it valuable)
And, the more the community likes your post, the more you earn cryptocurrency, which will both grow the Sapien platform and incentivize users to make high-quality content.
However, you might point out, internet users are spoiled for choice these days – why would they opt to pay for content when there’s a glut of it out there for free?
In response, Sapien provides a unified media portal with quality content and gives users the tools to monetize off the content they create.
How Users Are Earning Cryptocurrency On Sapien
Ever wondered what it would be like to receive cryptocurrency rewards for social activity? Well, you can now on the blockchain social network Sapien!
The platform is enticing because it offers the average user the opportunity to earn cryptocurrency for social activity such as creating content, leaving comments, and voting on posts. Content creators choose Sapien because of its commitment to rewarding their original, valuable contributions to the platform.
Blockchain social networks like Sapien therefore offer a compelling future for fair and transparent cryptocurrency rewards and content monetization.
In the future, Sapien plans to use tokenized rewards to compensate platform users who choose to watch advertisements in addition to the myriad other ways to earn cryptocurrency.
Sapien’s model is innovative because many of these actions are not typically rewarded on Web 2.0 and or Web 3.0 platforms. Sapien is thus a unique value proposition for users who care about good content and want to meaningfully participate in their social experience online.
Already, tens of thousands of SPN have been awarded to thousands of users on Sapien’s platform for their posts and comments. Sapien users enjoy being rewarded for their social activity, and it’s buoyed the platform’s growth.
See Sapien’s explanatory video on the Rewards Engine for more information.
Battling Bots and Fake News With Proof-of-Value
Social media bots and fake news are being used to undermine ethical journalism and democratic practices at an unprecedented level. A key element of Sapien’s mission is to combat misleading content by incentivizing well-researched and valuable material.
They plan to accomplish this several strategies, outlined in more detail below:
The Proof-of-Value protocol is built on a communal reputation system. Creators’ reputations are scored by their peers according to their expertise on the content’s subject matter. A user’s reputation will be weighted according to how much time they spend contributing to a community, thus allowing them to share quality content more effectively and clamp down on junk content.
Thus, the more a user creates on and participates in the Sapien community, the more they will be able to shape it for the better.=
2. Machine Learning
The spread of fake news has become so sophisticated that it can be very difficult to discern fake from real. Algorithms are being developed to distinguish between reliable news sources, and Sapien will use one called “stance detection.”
This will analyze titles of articles and posts and flag those that disagree with the majority of articles on the platform.
Taking into account the reputation of the user who created the material, the algorithm will then label it with the probability of whether it’s real or fake, leaving users to trust it at their own discretion. Users will also be able to report posts they think are suspicious or fake.
3. Identity Verification
With user identities being stored permanently on Ethereum blockchain data, publishers and users will be able to verify that the creator of a certain item is who they say they are.
With their reputations, both on and offline, at stake, this should dissuade trolls from posting false information and nip the spread of fake news at (or close to) the bud. Trolls will be incentivized to propagate their material on platforms with less sophisticated barriers to entry.
4. Something-at-Stake Design
To perform actions on the Sapien platform, users stake a number of SPN tokens as collateral to vouch for its truthfulness and value. This staking system discourages trolls and incentivizes the creation of high quality content.
Recently, Sapien outlined their policy on Adaptive Staking, which is their latest innovation in Something-at-Stake design. Read more here.
The SPN Token
SPN is an ERC-20 token that can be used as both a security and utility token.
As we’ve pointed out above, it is used for rewarding creators of high-quality content, but it also powers various social actions of the Sapien ecosystem, including tipping, posting comments, voting, and more. This is all when SPN is in its staked form – otherwise, unstaked SPN are listed on exchanges and can be kept in users’ digital wallets.
The more SPN a user stakes, the more SPN they can receive for social activity via the Sapien Rewards Engine.
The Company Behind Sapien
Sapien began in 2015, co-founded by Ankit Bhatia and Robert Giometti. They both studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, and that foundation of technological know-how is reflected in the rest of the the Sapien team, which numbers over 20 people.
The team also boasts 6 advisors now, including the former CEO of eBay in India, the head of a Silicon Valley angel investor group, a Blockchain Professor / FinTech Investor, and a PhD specializing in blockchain research. These advisors equip Sapien’s hungry and passionate team with the guidance, wisdom, and connections to make their vision a reality.
Sapien’s stated competitors are Web 2.0 social networks, such as Facebook, as well as cryptocurrency social networks, such as Steemit.
Although the billions of Facebook users seems to be a high mark to shoot for, recent dissatisfaction with the platform is driving users to look for alternatives. Just as MySpace was killed by Facebook, Facebook could just as easily suffer a similar fate.
Fortunately, the Sapien beta has experienced significant growth in recent months, and a new platform release should draw more users soon.
Roadmap and Partnerships
Luckily, the blockchain social media sphere is diverse realm, and it’s hard to imagine that there will ever only be one social network site at the exclusion of all others.
Sapien has a lot of room to grow, and their roadmap suggests they’re up to the challenge. Having completed their crowdsale in Q1 2018, Sapien is now working to increase marketing and awareness of their upcoming rebrand and platform release in Q4.
Since its launch, Sapien has been building steam. It already boasts 4500 users, 17,000+ posts, 29,000+ comments, 1200+ branches, and 180+ groups. That’s in addition to Sapien users staking over 13 million+ SPN.
In the later half of 2018, Sapien has focused on user incentives, fine-tuning the UI for newcomers to crypto, and streamlining the Sapien backend to grow their user base.
Their potential has not gone unnoticed, and Sapien has already gathered several high-profile partnerships, including BitClave, Civic, DAOstack, 0chain, Blockchain Lab, Rocket.Chat, ComplyAdvantage, Onfido, and Monarch Wallet.
Sapien’s largest challenge will be offering users a truly decentralized platform. Overall, Sapien’s system for compensating content and advertising is innovative and feasible.
The biggest challenge social networks face is incentivizing their first users.
Just like an empty restaurant, no one wants to be the first in. People want to go where other people are, which can be difficult to achieve. Simply building it does not mean they will come. However, Sapien has already built one of the largest Ethereum-based social network communities with tons of quality original content on the platform.
People are looking for an alternative, and they’ve found that in the cryptocurrency social network Sapien.
Sapien is definitely coming into the market at the right time, when there has been a lot of dissatisfaction with the current state of social media. If they can cultivate communities of people who post content that draws in external interest, the sky’s the limit for the Sapien platform. Give it a try here.