- The public has varied opinions regarding censorship on social media platforms.
- More so, reports say that it is somehow ‘killing the media’ and is receiving some criticism.
- Some even ask, who really has the right to decide whether a user crossed the line?
Censorship might not always be such a bad thing, especially when it involves silencing those who are engaging in hate speech. However, the majority of the malicious and discriminatory actions or words targeted at vulnerable communities should never be tolerated.
In fact, this is important for truly democratic and progressive social media networks to uphold and support the expression of free speech. More especially, the US constitution mainly focuses on freedom of speech even though it was drafted back in 1776 by the Founding Fathers of America.
Hundreds of years ago, the free European thinkers and the Age of Enlightenment scholars understood the immense value freedom of speech could bring to a society. Recently, many people will recall that the account of U.S. President Donald Trump was censored and even canceled by Facebook and Twitter.
This was due to the fact that the accounts were allegedly sharing misinformation (and arguably disinformation) with the intent to unfairly manipulate the results of an election.
Clearly, this would be an example of exploiting a social media network for unfair gains. Reasonably, this accounts for why there weren’t too many people that complained when the former US president’s accounts got suspended.
Decentralized Communities, Not Centralized Entities Should Make Decisions
Despite not receiving too much backlash, we were able to clearly see that centralized platforms have the power to censor a certain group of users or individual accounts if they think their conduct is unacceptable.
In this essence, who should really decide whether a user’s actions have crossed the line? To prove fairness, a truly democratic and decentralized platform would allow the community to decide in a transparent manner whether a certain action should be taken.
Due to the problems of censorship with centralized social media networks, a number of alternative solutions have either been launched or are currently being developed. For example, we can all remember Steemit, which went live over 5 years ago. Also, it became the first iteration of a blockchain or distributed ledger tech (DLT)-based social network. Even now, surprisingly, it’s still around today.
Although Steemit did not really live up to the expectations that had been set during its first launch. This doesn’t really make it a ghost town either. Meaning that there are actual users engaging in meaningful interactions with each other.
Unfortunately, many other blockchain-powered social media networks like Block. one’s Voice has not even achieved a moderate level of success since. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that were invested in their development, the project is still striving.
Time hasn’t gone, it’s still early days for crypto and blockchain and definitely the very early days for blockchain-enabled social media. Even Ethereum Co-founder Vitalik Buterin recently noted during a conference that blockchain-powered social media was a legitimate use-case for crypto.
On the same note, Buterin again acknowledged that we are yet to see a platform that’s comparable in terms of functionality and user engagement that’s currently seen on traditional platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
What’s Blockchain-based Social Media’s Real or True Value Proposition?
You won’t attract millions of users by simply claiming to be a blockchain-based social media platform. This is something many founders including those of Uptrend tried to do, but it didn’t really work because of a flawed incentive model. A properly-developed monetization and user engagement model is needed before blockchain-powered social media can really take off.
What this means is that the platform itself must be so attractive to people that they’d really want to log in every day and use it in a meaningful manner. This would require content creators to be rewarded generously and fairly for their valuable time, work, dedication, and effort. These days, most Twitter users are not being able to gain the financial benefits they deserve because it is being taken unfairly by the platform owners.
A fairly new project called Subsocial, which was initially introduced in 2019, is looking to disrupt the blockchain-based social media industry. The Subsocial team, which was selected by Parity for the Substrate Builders Program, notes that they intend to offer a truly decentralized, permissionless, and engaging social media network.
The team has introduced several beta versions of their software for testing and refinement purposes. By democratizing content creation, the goal of the project is to provide the rewards influencers, individual users, and other platform contributors truly deserve.
In addition to better incentives, this next-generation social media network will aim to be censorship-resistant. This means that anyone can express their thoughts and carry out actions independently, without a centralized entity trying to censor what they have to say.
Everyone has the right to express themselves openly without having to worry about their message being censored because it does not align with the values and ideals of a certain group of people. While hate speech is definitely not acceptable, the world does need a truly uncensorable platform to share ideas and work towards the advancement of modern society.
For these reasons, blockchain-based social media projects like Subsocial should become successful in the long term. Even though the current versions may not be fully ready for mainstream adoption, they are definitely a work in progress and we may see major changes in the way social media works in the coming years.
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