Thursday, January 25, 2018

"Can blockchain disrupt social media?"

With Drones?

From XIII D Research: 

As opposition to Big Tech’s power intensifies, the concept of building a new backbone for social media is taking hold.
Will blockchain-based social networks do to today’s internet giants what Facebook, Amazon and Google did to the gatekeepers of the past? Will they be a bulwark against censorship and fake news, decentralize Big Tech, and give users the chance to monetize their data? In short, will blockchain reinvent social media? Last year, as cryptocurrencies became a legitimate threat to central-bank-issued currencies, and Facebook’s toxic power was exposed in one headline after another, these questions began to percolate in the spirit of revolution. A new crop of platforms emerged with the aim of fighting the giants by decentralizing control. Powered by blockchain technologies, they started building alternative models: decentralized, peer-to-peer ledgers that eliminate the hubs responsible for privacy breaches and censorship, while paying users for what they create. onG.Social, for example, has built a social media network where users can reward other users with digital tokens for posting real news. Cryptocurrency can then be exchanged for fiat currency, giving users the chance to make money by sharing real news and rejecting fake ones.

As Forbes observed: “In today’s world, you don’t have rights to your own content and images. onG.Social’s mission is to change the paradigm to a state which social network users actually own their own data and get a chance to monetize it.”

Startup Steemit has three virtual coins attached to its social network, including Steem Dollars, and rewards content creators when their work gets “upvoted”, aiming to democratize the flow of value online. Akasha, which is powered by Ethereum, is “a decentralized Twitter”. Kik, a messaging app that is popular among teens and is also built on Ethereum, launched a cryptocurrency payment service last year.

As opposition to Big Tech’s power intensifies, the concept of building a new backbone for social media is taking hold. Indeed, blockchain is shaping up to be the biggest social trend of 2018. Earlier this month, when Don Tapscott, founder of the Blockchain Institute, laid out his top ten cryptocurrency predictions for 2018 for Quartz, cracking the “walls of digital feudalism” topped the list, as did creating an “internet of value”:

“Under the feudal system, landlords owned vast amounts of land. Serfs worked the lands to create value but had most of the value confiscated by the landlord. Today the new asset class is data — created by us but captured by our digital landlords (social media companies, search engines, governments, banks, etc). We need to recover this data — our “digital identity — and manage it responsibly in our own interests.

With blockchain, people (along with physical and digital objects) can possess unique, immutable identities in a ‘digital black box.’ It will capture data that we can each monetize, use to plan our lives and protect our privacy.”

But do not expect the incumbents — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet — to take the move towards decentralization lying down. Tapscott also predicts the “digital conglomerates” will “wade in”, as a matter of survival:

“There’s no doubt that blockchain technology poses an existential threat to the world’s largest digital conglomerates. But in the coming year, we will see these companies embrace crypto-currencies, and even many of the other applications of blockchain technology. Get ready for the Empire to Strike Back.”

Google is already the second largest investor in blockchain technologies (Goldman Sachs is the largest). And in December, Amazon announced a partnership with R3 to allow its platform Corda to become one of the first- ever distributed ledger technologies on Amazon Web Services. “Is this a sign of things to come from Amazon, who stands to lose tremendously to blockchain-based retailers? Absolutely,” Tapscott writes.

Facebook is wading in, too. On December 12, 2017, it was announced that David Marcus, head of Messenger at Facebook, would join Coinbase’s board. This prompted a flurry of speculation that Facebook was exploring a cryptocurrency initiative within its Messenger platform, and possibly eyeing an acquisition. The speculation ramped up again this month, when Mark Zuckerberg published his annual New Year’s post to Facebook....MORE