Today’s social networks are woven into the fabric of everyday life. Platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter not only drive culture but hold great influence over professional, political, and financial affairs. They’ve rapidly become an integral part of societal infrastructure.
Though they’re owned by a handful of increasingly powerful corporations, they belong to everyone. In reality, there’s no them without us. Consequently, the fact that the social networks we use the most are owned by centralised corporations isn’t in the best interest of their billions of daily users.
Blockchain tech allows for the development of decentralised social networks that are owned, governed, operated by their users. One of the keys to how these decentralised social networks will rewire the world is the DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation).
In this article, Matjaž Škorjanc, founder of crypto mining exchange NiceHash, discusses the potential impact of user-owned social networks and DAOs.
The Problems with Our Current Social Networks
The current iteration of the internet is Web 2.0. While Web 1.0 saw the use mainly static pages and the consumption of content, Web 2.0 is characterised by user-generated content. That said, the platforms on which we collectively publish the vast majority of this content – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, etc., are owned by a handful of private corporations.
Now, while there’s no denying that Web 2.0 social networks provide immense value, they still present several problems too
Privacy and Data
We share so much of our personal, often sensitive data with social networks: our name, address, phone number, email – even our bank details. Not to mention, who our friends are, our interests, where we are, where we’re going, how we’re feeling, and so on…
Then, there’s passive data: collecting information without the direct involvement of the user. Prominent examples include data collected by browsers and mobile devices tracking our movements.
Ownership One Content and Attention
Although users own any content they create, by agreeing to the social network’s terms of service, they license them to use their content however they choose. This includes the right to monetise their content any way they see fit – and compensate them at their discretion. As Matjaž Škorjanc, co-founder of NiceHash explains, “If content creators don’t like it – fine, they welcome to go elsewhere. But they can’t directly take their audience with them. The social network owns the engagement too.”
Censorship And Freedom of Speech
Society is becoming increasingly polarised and social networks are the perfect breeding ground for extreme opinions to proliferate. The corporations that own social networks have a duty of care to moderate harmful content but sometimes this can go too far, or not far enough.
On one hand, the people in charge of centralised social networks can opt to silence opinions that don’t coincide with their own. Worse, in the case of Reddit mods, they can wield this power to further their self-interests.
Conversely, centralised social networks can neglect their duty of care by not doing enough to curb hate speech. A famous example of this is the Rohingya Genocide in Myanmar. Facebook’s negligence resulted in its algorithms amplifying hate speech and didn’t take down inflammatory posts promptly.
What’s The Alternative to Centralised Social Network Platforms?
Taking all this into account, does it make sense for corporations to extract so much value from our content and our data, and receive relatively little of the rewards in return.
“Sure, they created and maintain the platform – but the users create the content,” says Matjaž Škorjanc. And although lots of influencers make a good living, and a small percentage become very wealthy, they still don’t realise the true value of their content.
Fortunately, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain tech that underly them offer a solution to the current solution crop of centralised social networks.
Web 3.0 social networks
The next stage of the internet, Web 3.0 will be enabled by blockchains and cryptocurrencies, including the evolution of social networks. Instead of a centralised entity like a corporation, Web 3.0 social networks will be owned and operated by their users. Plus, as opposed to a centralised server, decentralised social networks will run on blockchain nodes distributed around the world on users’ devices.
Web 3.0 social networks will be characterised by:
- The Right to Privacy: You’ll possess greater control of all your data, choosing when to share it and with whom.
- The Right to Own Information, Attention, And Engagement: you’ll own the content and can receive the full value of its monetisation
- The Right to Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression: you can publish content without fear of being de-platformed and demonetised.
- Interoperability: user interfaces function across multiple social networks situated on different blockchains and that support a selection of cryptocurrencies.
DAOs are an integral part of how Web 3.0 social networks will operate.
What is a DAO?
DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) are blockchain-enabled organisational structures. They allow people to pool their resources in pursuit of a shared objective. They also allow all members of the goal and share in the rewards when those goals are achieved.
As Matjaž Škorjanc points out, “Unlike conventional organisations, DAOs aren’t tied to a particular physical location, which allows them to attract capable participants, as well as resources from anywhere in the world.”
How a DAO functions
Typically, the members of DAO are issued a special type of cryptocurrency called a governance token. Governance tokens endow its holder with voting rights: they can propose ways to improve the social network, weigh in on which features the development team should work on, and how funds should be used. In short, governance tokens give a say in the network’s policies and future direction.
Also, governance tokens can increase in value if the project led by the DAO is successful, so each member has a personal stake. On a similar note, a person who wants a greater say in the project can support their ambition with a financial contribution and buy more tokens to gain more voting power.
About Matjaž Škorjanc
Matjaž Škorjanc is co-founder and former CTO, of NiceHash. He helped establish the company in 2014 after seeing an opportunity in the crypto mining market for a user-friendly free exchange marketplace for buyers to bid for hashpower. He does not have any shares nor an active position in the company. Matjaž is a thought leader in blockchain tech, operating systems, mining software and networks.
Matjaž Škorjanc’s dedication and considerable expertise helped make NiceHash a global leader in the crypto mining market, with over 2.5 million users.