Social media is a major component of the internet and has already transformed how humans communicate and interact. Looking to take things to the next level, a few projects are trying to combine social media with the blockchain.
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The Blockchain-based social media platform Steemit has gained quite a following in the past few months. The was project built by Daniel Larimer, the founder of Bitshares, using graphene architecture. The company is also led by Ned Scott who is a technical analysis with a background in financial data.
Steemit launched back in March with a small amount of enthusiasm but has since become a hot topic in cryptocurrency circles and social media. During the summer months, Steemit has attracted a lot of artists, writers, and vloggers to the platform because it pays people for sharing content. People have been paid thousands of dollars per post in some instances, with the most popular articles netting close to $15,000 USD in rare cases.
The platform, which combines the concepts of Facebook, WordPress, and Reddit all in one, operates on the Steemit blockchain and uses three types of crypto-tokens:
Steem Power gives users the ability to throw their weight around on the platform. The more power you have, the more significant your vote will be when you up vote a post or even a comment. Comments have been seen to be upwards of $20-40, so all interaction is rewarded.
Steem is the currency that is tradeable on the market but also powers two smart contract protocols similar to Ether’s gas. The cryptocurrency can be traded on exchanges like Bittrex or Poloniex but also can help increase your Steem Power. Secondly, the other smart contract works with the third cryptocurrency Steem Dollars (SBD).
Steem Dollars are designed to be pegged to $1 USD and be the equivalent of one dollars worth of Steem for conversion over the platform. On cryptocurrency exchanges, SBD’s can be seen traded for a dollar or less depending on the current market value. So, in essence, it makes more sense to use the system’s seven-day conversion over a third party exchange, though lots of people cash out their content earnings elsewhere.
Steem Adds New Features
The Steemit platform has just announced they will be fulfilling heavily requested new features to its site. The services will enhance the social media experience by adding private messaging, notifications, and follow buttons. The developing team believes implementing these new features will facilitate interaction between community members and attract people using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Steemit CEO Ned Scott gives explains:
Enhancing the diversity of our application-specific blockchain is a natural progression for Steemit. Private messaging is perfectly suited for a decentralized system and will empower users in a similar way to how direct messages empower users on Twitter. The ‘follow’ feature will enable community members to receive notifications as soon as their favorite authors post, and the notifications will work just like Facebook in that users will be alerted immediately upon a new post or upvote from their favorite contributors. These features are the pillars of current social media giants and we look forward to integrating them into Steemit over the coming weeks.
Big Names & Skepticism
Steemit’s popularity has attracted quite a few well-known people to share content over the platform. This includes people like Trace Mayer, Larken Rose, Charlie Shrem, Roger Ver, Tatiana Moroz, Rick Falkvinge, and more. Some of these famous users are regularly taking in four figures for introducing themselves, writing stories, and posting video and podcast content.
However, there have been some naysayers who believe the project is a scam or somewhat of a ponzi. Brave New Coin contributor and Bitcoin technical analyst Tone Vays has said Steemit was ultimately a ponzi scheme. Vays had highlighted many points on why he believes the platform is set up like a pyramid. He even debated the issue on the Dollar Vigilante’s podcast Anarchast. Many people are waiting to see if the project can continue to hold its own, keep up its significantly large payouts, and ultimately survive as a social media platform with perks.
Competition is Coming
Soon Steemit won’t be the only blockchain-based social media platform on the block. The Tel-Aviv-based Synereo founded by Dor Konforty and Greg Meredith also aims to create a decentralized social media protocol. The team has recently announced it has built a prototype, which is in its alpha phase that works on top of the software’s distributed stack.
With Synereo’s blockchain-based social network the protocol also puts content creators in charge of the media they produce just like Steemit. Users control their personal information and produce content that can be monetized within the Synereo community. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, the Synereo application doesn’t store data on its users and cannot sell the information to third parties. In contrast, the platform works through transactions on the Synereo distributed ledger and is only available to network participants.
The Synereo social media network will operate without any central server and compensate the user base for their content and shared computational power. The team also says that the project “adheres to principles of the attention economy” that in essence rewards network users for creation and curation.
The platform includes text posting, image posting, content labelling, taggable posts and hashtags, decentralized searching, content amplification, and users can also promote content by charging with the Synereo blockchain’s native currency AMP. Users viewing content loaded with AMP will be compensated with the funded amplified content.
During last week’s developer and community hangout, the Synereo team talked about its recent joint venture with wewowwe.com. The developer news update stated:
The wewowwe.com project has now API functionality and is able to work with outside networks, so that users can now be compensated automatically with AMPs for their contributions to their social network.—Also the components of the Synereo ecosystem are starting to converge and reveal a detailed picture of its capability.
Will Centralized Social Media Fall to the Wayside?
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are still the prominent social media applications everyone uses. The mechanics of these websites are very much centralized as third parties benefit from users’ content, targeted ads, and personal information. Meanwhile, other social media services like Diaspora, TSU and others haven’t seemed to be able to grasp any widespread attention that Steemit has gathered so far.
Given the rising popularity of Steemit, the next generation of social media will make it easier to monetize content, resist censorship and provide users with a true peer-to-peer experience. It may be a few years until Facebook loses its supremacy the way MySpace did but the trend towards decentralization and better security will ensure that users do not only retain their privacy but also share in the spoils of their online community.
What do you think about the state of social media and projects like Synereo, Steemit, and Maidsafe changing the way we interact with these platforms? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Steemit, Synereo.
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