The New Social Order
Today’s social platforms, run by centralized corporations,
have tapped into our most basic human desires for inclusion, connection and
attention. People volunteer personal information about themselves in exchange
for instant gratification in the form of “likes,” follows and retweets. One
problem with this culture of sharing, though, is that it incentivizes people to
give up control of their data and privacy.
Steemit is a blockchain-based social platform that has
eliminated the need for advertisers and the collection of user data. Members
can earn tokens by posting original stories and curating content created by
others. The value of Steem tokens is based on a novel idea called “Proof of
Brain.” The Steem blue paper
outlines how Proof of Brain differs from proof of work, the consensus mechanism
used to validate transactions on the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains. Instead
of distributing tokens only to miners, the Steem network distributes tokens to
members who are actively adding value to the community (i.e., content creators
The idealistic vision of Steemit is a decentralized content-sharing
platform wherein creators of diverse perspectives find their respective audiences.
The Steem white paper envisions
a conglomeration of sub-communities comprised of poets, sports enthusiasts and
political junkies all thriving within the greater Steem network.
The success of this vision hinges on diverse content being
rewarded by community members. If members are not diverse, the content earning “upvotes”
— the Steem equivalent to likes — may become homogenous or biased. There is
also a risk of users colluding to promote their own content and that of their
friends. In order to curb such abuse, Steemit limits the number of votes
allocated to each user per day. Additionally, the value of Steem tokens depends
on overall user trust in the system, so all members are incentivized to behave
ethically so as not to devalue their own holdings.
Rise in Decentralized
A big development in the crypto community is, of course, Telegram’s
much-discussed initial coin offering (ICO), which is predicted to be the
largest in history, with
the organization seeking to raise $1.2 billion.
Telegram is an encrypted messaging app that has superseded
Slack among many crypto enthusiasts as the preferred communications forum. According
to a leaked 23-page white paper, Telegram’s main aim is to bring crypto
payments to the masses, but the organization also intends to decentralize
online communication via its proposed Telegram Open Network (TON). Users on
this network will be able to share files and browse anonymously with its new
crypto token, called “grams.”
The issue of scale has plagued blockchain technology since its
inception. In the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, every transaction must be
validated by a percentage of nodes before it can be added as a permanent hash
on the ledger. The Bitcoin blockchain can handle a maximum of 7
transactions per second while Ethereum handles about 15 — a snail’s pace
compared to the thousands of transactions per second processed by credit cards.
TON aims to achieve the speed necessary for mainstream adoption of crypto
Unlike centralized tech giants, Telegram believes that
people’s privacy should be protected. The Telegram
FAQ page states that the company prioritizes protecting the content of
private conversations as well as personal data from marketers and advertisers.
By introducing high-speed crypto payments to its already popular chat
application, Telegram has a chance to make a real impact on the fight for
consumer data protection and privacy on a large scale.