Fed up with traditional social media? Let’s jump down the DeSo rabbit hole and reclaim our digital kingdoms!
In the wild west of the digital frontier, there’s a new sheriff in town: decentralized social media (DeSo). As we endlessly scroll, like and retweet our way through the day, the cracks in our relationship with social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok are showing. Concerns surrounding data breaches, content moderation challenges and compromised user privacy have spurred the rise of alternative solutions. Enter DeSo platforms, built on blockchain technology and promising a user-first social media experience that’s more secure and privacy-focused. Sounds intriguing, right?
So, let’s jump down the rabbit hole of DeSo, where we’ll check out who’s who in this brave new world, take a gander at the perks and pitfalls and get a full lay of the land.
What are decentralized social media platforms?
Imagine for a moment, a social media universe where you hold the keys to your kingdom: your data, your content and your digital identity. Welcome to DeSo, where instead of your data being locked away in the tower of mega-corps, it’s scattered across a global network of computers. But how does this magic happen?
The secret sauce is blockchain technology. DeSo platforms use this tech to keep your data safe, secure and private. You have the magic key, deciding who gets a peek at your posts, interactions and personal info.
But it’s not all roses. While DeSo champions the idea of a democratic, uncensored landscape—offering you the freedom to express yourself without a central authority calling the shots—it also brings up the challenge of managing misinformation, hate speech or harmful content without a centralized content moderation system.
Some DeSo platforms also promise cryptocurrency rewards for your contributions. Yes, you heard that right! An example would be Steemit, which dishes out its native cryptocurrency, Steem, to content creators and curators based on the engagement and popularity of their content. So, not only are your creativity and insights appreciated, but they can also be monetarily rewarding. However, the flip side of this approach is the volatility of cryptocurrency markets, which could lead to the fluctuating value of your earned tokens.
Now, let’s give a shout-out to some of the cool kids in the DeSo playground:
Popular decentralized social media platforms
Jack Dorsey’s brainchild, BlueSky, is like a breath of fresh air in social media land. This platform, which launched for Android users in April and expanded to iOS users in late February 2023, already boasts 50,000 users. However, not everyone can sign up on the platform, as it is only accessible through invitations at the moment.
Built on the AT Protocol, Bluesky is kinda like Twitter’s hip younger sibling, with a democratic structure and community-based moderation. It also allows 256-character posts, photo attachments and engagement features. The AT Protocol, an in-house open-source architecture that permits external monitoring of the project’s development process, is used to emphasize openness.
Introduced in 2022, Lens Protocol is backed by one of the most experienced teams in DeFi, the Aave team, and built on the Polygon blockchain, the Ethereum scaling solution. This open-source social graph uses non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to put you, the content creator, in control of your digital footprint. You can mint your Lens handle as an NFT to your crypto wallet and watch as it becomes compatible with other exciting decentralized apps (dApps) and smart contracts in the LensVerse ecosystem. You can even sell your Lens NFTs on secondary marketplaces like OpenSea, adding value to your digital assets.
The platform’s modularity encourages innovation and connectivity. As a creator, you can propose and implement new features, shaping the future of Lens Protocol.
Launched in 2016 by Eugen Rochko, Mastodon is a veteran in the DeSo scene, but it was a tweet in 2022 that propelled it into the spotlight. It is based on the ActivityPub Protocol, which is a standard for decentralized social networking. Each individual server or “instance” within Mastodon operates independently, like little islands of interests. The beauty of it is that you can hop on the instance that best fits your vibe.
When you’ve got something to share on Mastodon, you don’t tweet – you “toot”. Toots can be up to 500 characters long and can be packed with text, images and links. Your toots can be shared with folks on the same server or beamed out to other Mastodon instances across the platform.
However, unlike on Twitter, if you are looking to slide into someone’s DM on Mastodon, you have to head over to their profile. Instead of a separate inbox like Twitter, your DMs will pop up on your and the recipient’s timelines. Don’t worry, though; they’re only visible to those tagged in the post.
For all the Instagram enthusiasts out there, PixelFed is like a decentralized doppelgänger with the best features of IG but with more user control and an ad-free environment. Some notable features include the ability to include links in post descriptions, an ad-free environment, account portability and the option to use a custom domain and host a personal instance.
Like Mastodon, PixelFed also runs on the ActivityPub Protocol. That means you can follow any account and interact with posts across platforms that use the same protocol. It’s like a social media passport to more connections and interactions.
What lies ahead
As DeSo continues to emerge, DeSo still has some mountains to climb. Many platforms haven’t hit the mainstream yet, and there are some tech and security challenges to iron out. However, with big names like Twitter and YouTube already dipping their toes into decentralized tech, it’s clear that DeSo is catching people’s attention.
By giving DeSo platforms a shot, we can steer social media toward a more inclusive, transparent and user-focused model. It’s time to rewrite the digital playbook and create an online environment that’s empowering for all involved. So, are you ready to be part of the DeSo revolution?
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