Earlier in October 2022, the widely used messaging app WhatsApp was offline for about two hours, leaving its billion-plus users unable to communicate. After the outage, social media was flooded with memes, tweets, and headlines that expressed widespread anger.
Not for the first time has WhatsApp experienced an outage. Server problems have caused several outages of popular social media and messaging apps like Instagram and YouTube. However, the government might arbitrarily decide to stop supporting any of these applications at any time, so there is no assurance that you will always have access to them. I’ll hold off till you give me an illustration. Stop talking now, TikTok.
When you consider that WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, or any other centralized messaging site may be shut down or rendered inaccessible tomorrow, it becomes clear how important it is to have a decentralized messaging platform.
Decentralized services and apps that can function without a central server have increased with the introduction of Web3. In most cases, these programs are constructed on top of the blockchain. As blockchain apps may run on several nodes (computers), they are resilient to disruptions in service and can’t be shut down unilaterally.
Do these benefits justify the effort required to switch to decentralized systems? What if the quality of these services is lower than what’s already available? I know you don’t believe in this decentralized messiah concept at first, but if you give me a chance, I think I can change your mind by the conclusion of this essay.
The Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary, delves deeper into how your activity on social media and messaging applications is monitored and used to develop a personalized advertising profile. Meta (formerly Facebook) may know more about you than you do because of how thorough the AI is.
There are no free lunches in life, neither are free messaging applications or social networking sites that gorge themselves on your data before selling it to advertising. That is how they plan to earn money. Thus it is integral to their business. Thanks to your information, these firms are now worth billions because of the advertisements they can provide. Think of the possibilities if ads compensated you for your input. What if browsers could pay you to surf the internet without sacrificing privacy? Blockchain technology allows for this to happen.
Several decentralized social networking networks give individuals more freedom and control over their personal information. As a result, your online activities and data are spread among several servers in different locations worldwide, making it impossible for any organization to monitor your habits. Protection from censorship, ownership of one’s data, and heightened authority over user-generated material are just a few advantages.
Users of Brave, a decentralized web browser, may pay for their online browsing using cryptocurrency. Additionally, you benefit from enhanced surfing speeds and less filtering.
In contrast to traditional media, social media platforms like Mastadon provide users with much creative freedom because content can’t be removed from the site because some high-up executive didn’t like it. However, as this is a community-driven platform, users can vote for a specific post to be removed if it encourages hate speech, incites violence, or violates the network’s regulations. Therefore the potential for hate speech on the platform is mitigated. Once again, though, it is the community, not the government, the CEOs, or the outraged activists, who determine the fate of the material.
Since Mastodon is ad-free and subscription-free, it begs the question: where does the platform get the money to keep it running? In this way, the benefits of blockchain technology become clear. Since all the data is kept on several nodes all over the world, the upkeep of each node is handled in exchange for cryptocurrency incentives. The algorithm rewards nodes for their participation in keeping the blockchain operational. In this approach, everyone wins.
In the future of social media and internet use, people may be rewarded in cryptocurrency for browsing the web or hosting advertisements on their individualized profiles. An authentically democratic style of governance.
There’s no limit to what can be done. This eliminates the need for intermediaries like Facebook or Google Chrome by directly incentivizing users and consumers to engage with companies.
One such decentralized video-hosting platform is LBRY (like YouTube). Hours of video footage may be uploaded without fear of censorship or removal, provided the community does not object. In addition, the members of this group would be rational, objective, and free-thinking.
Decentralized alternatives to WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal include messaging programs like Session and DM3. These apps aren’t as polished as the current crop of Web2 offerings. Still, they benefit from serving Web3 customers thanks to their decentralized server architecture.
Are you ready to make the shift?
Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not claiming that decentralized systems solve every problem. For a long time, WhatsApp and YouTube were the undisputed champions of all your messaging and research requirements. I don’t want to discount the years of work and millions of dollars these major tech firms have put into their products to make them accessible to billions of users worldwide and universally beloved for their ease of use. I use them myself since they are so good.
Many people, myself included, are seeking an alternative because we worry that our private conversations may be spied upon or used as fodder in the nightly news. The release of Rhea and Deepika’s WhatsApp conversations and the hack of Telegrams are two such instances. Since blockchain information is encrypted and stored in several locations, it is difficult to steal or leak.
Facebook (Meta) loses its appeal as many users abandon the site. Recently, Twitter saw a rise in the use of the hashtag #deletefacebook, which encouraged users to permanently delete their Facebook accounts. Instagram, YouTube, and Google are still on top. Still, they’re always worried about the rise of Web3 because it may put the “power of data” in the hands of the people, which is something they desperately want to avoid.
BlueSky, a decentralized social media network supported by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, attracted more than 30,000 sign-ups in only 48 hours, indicating that users are eager to experiment with cutting-edge Web3 applications. That’s not even the first step.
The future of social media and messaging platforms is not on centralized servers but on the blockchain, thanks to the development of blockchain technology and the emergence of new AI-enabled Web3 apps. By eliminating disruptive advertisements, this approach promotes economic parity.
I realize that these chat apps and decentralized social media platforms are still in their infancy, and they may not be able to provide the same features as WhatsApp and Telegram do now. It is only a matter of time until Web3-based decentralized apps like Bitcoin’s Lightning Network or Ethereum’s DAO make it onto your phone’s “Most used apps” list. However, some significant hurdles still exist to overcome, such as scalability, latency, security, and incentives.