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Decentralized social networks

  • Blockchain-based platforms for social interaction and content creation and distribution.
  • Decentralized social media networks protect user privacy and enhance data security.
  • Tokens and NFTs create new ways to monetize content.

Social networks play a massive role in our daily communications and interactions. However, centralized control of these platforms has created many problems: data breaches, server outages, de-platforming, censorship, and privacy violations are some of the trade-offs social media often make. To combat these issues, developers are building social networks on Ethereum. Decentralized social networks can fix many of the problems of traditional social networking platforms and improve users' overall experience.

What are decentralized social networks?

Decentralized social networks are

platforms that allow users to exchange information as well as publish and distribute content to audiences. Because these applications run on the blockchain, they are capable of being decentralized and resistant to censorship and undue control.

Many decentralized social networks exist as alternatives to established social media services, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium. But blockchain-powered social networks have a number of features that put them ahead of traditional social platforms.

How do decentralized social networks work?

Decentralized social networks are a class of decentralized applications (dapps)—applications powered by

deployed on the blockchain. The contract code serves as the backend for these apps and defines their business logic.

Traditional social media platforms rely on databases to store user information, program code, and other forms of data. But this creates single points-of-failure and introduces significant risk. For instance, Facebook's servers infamously went offline for hours(opens in a new tab) last year, cutting off users from the platform.

Decentralized social networks exist on a

comprising thousands of nodes around the globe. Even if some nodes fail, the network will run uninterrupted, making applications resistant to failures and outages.

Using decentralized storage systems like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS)(opens in a new tab), social networks built on Ethereum can protect user information from exploitation and malicious use. No one will sell your personal information to advertisers, neither will hackers be able to steal your confidential details.

Many blockchain-based social platforms have native tokens that power monetization in absence of advertising revenue. Users can buy these tokens to access certain features, complete in-app purchases, or tip their favorite content creators.

Benefits of decentralized social networks

  1. Decentralized social networks are censorship-resistant and open to everyone. This means users cannot be banned, deplatformed, or restricted arbitrarily.

  2. Decentralized social networks are built on open-source ideals and make source code for applications available for public inspection. By eliminating the implementation of opaque algorithms common in traditional social media, blockchain-based social networks can align the interests of users and platform creators.

  3. Decentralized social networks eliminate the "middle-man". Content creators have direct ownership over their content, and they engage directly with followers, fans, buyers, and other parties, with nothing but a smart contract in between.

  4. As dapps running on the Ethereum network, which is sustained by a global, peer-to-peer network of nodes, decentralized social networks are less susceptible to server downtime and outages.

  5. Decentralized social platforms offer an improved monetization framework for content creators via

    , in-app crypto payments, and more.

  6. Decentralized social networks afford users a high level of privacy and anonymity. For instance, an individual can sign in to an Ethereum-based social network using an

    profile or
    —without having to share personally identifiable information (PII), such as names, email addresses, etc.

  7. Decentralized social networks rely on decentralized storage, not centralized databases, which are considerably better for safeguarding user data.

Decentralized social networks on Ethereum

The Ethereum network has become the preferred tool for developers creating decentralized social media owing to the popularity of its tokens and its massive user base. Here are some examples of Ethereum-based social networks:

Mirror

Mirror(opens in a new tab) is a web3-enabled writing platform that aims to be decentralized and user-owned. Users can read and write for free on Mirror by simply connecting their wallets. Users can also collect writing and subscribe to their favorite writers.

Posts published on Mirror are permanently stored on Arweave, a decentralized storage platform, and can be minted as collectable non-fungible tokens (NFTs) known as Writing NFTs. Writing NFTs are completely free for writers to create, and collection happens on an Ethereum

— making transactions inexpensive, fast, and environmentally friendly.

MINDS

MINDS(opens in a new tab) is one of the most used decentralized social networks. It works like Facebook and has racked up millions of users already.

Users use the platform's native

token $MIND to pay for items. Users can also earn $MIND tokens by publishing popular content, contributing to the ecosystem, and referring others to the platform.

Use decentralized social networks

  • Status.im(opens in a new tab) - Status is a secure messaging app that uses an open-source, peer-to-peer protocol, and end-to-end encryption to protect your messages from third parties.
  • Mirror.xyz(opens in a new tab) - Mirror is a decentralized, user-owned publishing platform built on Ethereum for users to crowdfund ideas, monetize content, and build high-value communities.
  • Lens Protocol(opens in a new tab) - Lens Protocol is a composable and decentralized social graph helping creators take ownership of their content wherever they go in the digital garden of the decentralized internet.
  • Farcaster(opens in a new tab) - Farcaster is a sufficiently decentralized social network. It is an open protocol that can support many clients, just like email.

Web2 social networks on Ethereum

native social platforms aren't the only ones trying to incorporate blockchain technology into social media. Many centralized platforms are also planning to integrate Ethereum into their infrastructure:

Reddit

Reddit has touted Community Points(opens in a new tab), which are ERC-20 tokens that users can earn by posting quality content and contributing to online communities (subreddits). You can redeem these tokens within a subreddit to get exclusive privileges and perks. For this project, Reddit is working with Arbitrum, a

network designed to scale Ethereum transactions.

The program is already live, with the r/CryptoCurrency subreddit running its version of Community Points called "Moons"(opens in a new tab). Per the official description, Moons "reward posters, commenters, and moderators for their contributions to the subreddit." Because these tokens are on the blockchain (users receive them in wallets), they are independent of Reddit and cannot be taken away.

Besides using Community Points to unlock special features, users can also trade them for fiat on exchanges. Also, the amount of Community Points a user owns determines their influence on the decision-making process within the community.

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