Subsocial – Decentralised Social Media

  • Social media platforms have come a long way from being just photo-sharing apps to revolutionising communication and blurring borders across the globe.
  • Today, to say they’re a part and parcel of our lives would be an understatement.
  • From connecting and communicating with people to sharing ideas and establishing brands, most of us have built our lives on social media platforms.
  • With the advent of new technologies like the blockchain and the progress towards Web 3.0, what does the future have in store for social media platforms?

The Need for Decentralised Social Networks

The success of social media networks is fully dependent on the community of its users. The architecture of present-day social networks, however, is built in a manner where users have no power within the ecosystem. Sure, they have the freedom to create, share content and interact within the network but, if the network wishes, it has the power to delete any piece of content or completely ban a person for trivial reasons.

The network also has the power to introduce algorithmic changes or impromptu community guidelines and users who make the network have no choice but to oblige. Apart from this, creators on these platforms, whether it is writers, artists or musicians, have not been able to monetise their work efficiently. There are a few platforms that share ad revenue, but the creators get only a tiny fraction of the ad revenue generated by the platform. Creators usually rely on brand collaborations to monetise their work and their followers have no reliable way of directly contributing to their favorite creator’s work.

Decentralised Social Networks and the Network Effect

Decentralised social networks, on the other hand, promise a future where the network is owned, governed and run by the community. This means that content censorship will be a thing of the past and unexpected algorithm changes long forgotten. The best part is that these networks come with all the crypto instruments and protocols needed to help creators, artists, and influencers convert their social value into monetary value in a hassle-free manner.

One such platform implementing this model is Subsocial. Subsocial is an open platform for decentralised social networks and marketplaces. It is censorship-resistant and has built-in monetisation methods. Built with the Polkadot and IPFS tech stacks, it is a set of Substrate pallets with web UI that allows anyone to launch their own decentralised censorship-resistant social network, aka community.

You can think of it as a decentralised version of Reddit or Medium, where a set of subreddits or blogs on Medium run on their own chain

It aims to bridge the communication gap that is prevalent in the crypto space and facilitate a consistent flow of information within the ecosystem. It allows community members to create content, share information, discuss different projects and collaborate on ideas, all in a decentralized manner without the need for intermediaries. It also allows crypto projects to directly advertise on the platform, something that Google and Facebook banned back in 2017.

Users can create space and define rules for it. These rules will decide who will be able to write posts, delete or edit them. They can also set whether they will be the sole owner of the space or any other users will share the space permission. Space owners can also issue tokens that will be used for voting, giving access to private content or be traded for other tokens in the Polkadot ecosystem. These spaces can even act like a DAO community, allowing the community members to change/upgrade the community rules and running its operation and governance.

The Subsocial platform consists of two primary parts. First, an independent blockchain built on Substrate (which hosts its custom social networking modules), and second, a decentralised application (DApp) which functions as a social network and for which a cross-platform mobile app (Android/iOS) will be developed later this year.

Both Subsocial creators and users will be able to share fairly in the success and growth of their social media platforms. While this type of incentivisation has already been tried on platforms like Steemit, with varying degrees of success, Subsocial is taking it much further.

Subsocial is being built on Substrate as well as the InterPlanetary File Sharing (IPFS) system, which will allow for the distributed file storage of essentially any type of content, including text, images and video. Its architecture is designed to allow news feed customization, full-text search and greater data transparency.

Monetising the platform

Being user-centric, decentralised networks like Subsocial are in a unique position to capitalise on an ever-growing user base and achieve a network effect. For the uninitiated, the network effect is a phenomenon where the value of a product, service or, in this case, a network, increases proportionally with the number of users. The Subsocial blockchain also has an open, permissionless API for applications to fetch data out of the box, similar to other blockchains like bitcoin and ethereum. This will allow the platform the flexibility to incorporate several DeFi elements, which will enable users to accept cryptocurrency payments for a massive array of content types and forms. For social media though, the big question remains, how can you popularise decentralised social media and monetise it effectively enough so that it can thrive and scale accordingly?

There will be multiple ways to monetise content in Subsocial, all aimed to bring more value to creators and provide better and more relevant content to its users.

Tipping - Subsocial will allow its users to hand out Tips, essentially cryptocurrency gifts to reward any post, comment or space, thereby incentivizing community contribution and interaction. Additionally, this will allow anyone to easily send donations or set up a subscription for other content creators on the platform.

Smart Contract Payments - Smart contracts will allow the Subsocial Network to remain decentralised, by eliminating the need for any third party to facilitate transactions. The implementation of smart contracts on Subsocial is going to enable developers to establish advanced payment options that fit the preferences of individual users or their communities.

NFT - Subsocial plans to take NFTs monetisation a step further, by not only allowing its users to sell their posts as NFTs, but also to rent them out, thereby generating recurring income and better monetising their most engaged content.

Paid Q&A - Users will be able to post relevant questions and set up a reward for good answers. Imagine the potential of a monetised Quora or Stack Overflow, where respondents are fully incentivised to deliver high-quality answers to the betterment of the whole community.

Conclusion

Blockchain technology in the past few years has opened up doors for the decentralisation of all the major industries that run our world. What started with finance, spread like quick-fire into almost every industry, including media and entertainment.

With the technology only expected to go uphill from here, and projects like Subsocial already implementing the tech, we could definitely be headed towards a future where trustless, decentralised networks become the future of social media.

Nothing in this article constitutes professional and/or financial advice. The content is provided exclusively for informational and/or educational purposes. Nothing is to be construed as an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell any type of asset. Seek independent professional advice in regards to financial, tax, legal and other matters.

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