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.
Blockchain-based social media platform Steemit has gained quite a following in the past few months. The project was built by Daniel Larimer, the founder of Bitshares, using graphene architecture. The company is also led by Ned Scott, who is a technical analyst with a background in financial data.
Steemit launched in March 2016 with moderate enthusiasm from the community and a small following. It has since been a hot topic in cryptocurrency circles and social media.
During the summer, Steemit 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.
The platform, which combines the concepts of Facebook, WordPress, and Reddit, 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 upvote a post or even a comment. Comments have been seen to be upwards of $20-40, so all interaction is rewarded.
Steem is a token that powers two smart contract protocols similar to Ether’s gas, and is tradable on cryptocurrency markets. The token is supported on exchanges like Bittrex or Poloniex. However, holders also have the option to use their coins to boost their Steem Power..
Steem Dollars are designed to be pegged to $1 USD and be the equivalent of one dollar’s worth of Steem for conversion over the platform. On cryptocurrency exchanges, SBD’s can be seen trading 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
Steemit developers has just announced the addition of highly-requested features to the site. The services will enhance the social media experience by adding private messaging, notifications, and follow buttons. The team believes implementing these new features will facilitate interaction between community members and attract new people currently using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Steemit CEO Ned Scott 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, including personalities like Trace Mayer, Larken Rose, Charlie Shrem, Roger Ver, Tatiana Moroz and Rick Falkvinge. Some of these famous users regularly take 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 resembles somewhat of a ponzi. Brave New Coin contributor and bitcoin technical analyst Tone Vays says Steemit appears to be a ponzi scheme. Vays highlighted many points on why he believes the platform is set up like a pyramid scam. 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 market. 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 a prototype of the Synereo platform, which is in its alpha phase and works on top of the software’s distributed stack.
With Synereo’s blockchain-based social network, the protocol 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. Instead, the platform works through transactions on the Synereo blockchain and is only available to network participants.
The Synereo social media network will operate without any central server, and will compensate its 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 labeling, taggable posts and hashtags, decentralized searching and content amplification. Users will also be able to promote content by charging with the Synereo blockchain’s native currency, AMP. Users viewing content loaded with AMP will be compensated, encouraging people to interact with amplified content.
The developers’ news update states:
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.
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, and Steemit, 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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