Few people can say that social media is a good thing.
It is being constantly (and rightfully) criticized for many of its shortcomings: encouraging people to stay in like-minded environment, prioritizing content that stirs strong emotions (hatred is the strongest), spying on people’s online life to propose a better-tailored Ad, manipulating people… and yet most of us still spend a huge part of our lives on the likes of Facebook.
Social media is an excellent example of the dangers of a trusted third party that operates an opaque algorithm and has virtually unlimited powers within the App.
Logically, we cannot help but thinking: ”Can crypto fix this?”
Crypto-native social media
The blockchain’s main quality is its capacity to replace a trusted third party with a decentralized network running an open-source code. A social media on a blockchain would be a great idea, but implementing it appears to be complicated.
The most advanced realization of a decentralized social media is Ecency, a decentralized social network built on Hive (community-led fork off Steem). Hive is a blockchain with DPoS consensus that allows fast and cheap transactions, and quite a few DApps have already chosen it as a base, notably a popular play-to-earn game Splinterlands. Ecency user posts are stored on the blockchain, ensuring a certain degree of censorship-resistance, and content creators and users who upvote them receive dollar-convertible tokens for their contribution. However, Ecency is far from becoming the next Twitter: a rudimentary UX and a complex system of 3 different tokens used on the platform keep its use marginal: of 2M registered users only 500k are active. Steemit, Ecency’s “ancestor” from Steem platform reports even fewer users.
Last year many were expecting a breakthrough in crypto social media with Voice – a project supported by Block.One that invested $150M into the venture. However, “taking back social from the Big Tech” appeared to be more complicated than Voice founders thought, and the platform radically changed its cap this spring by trying to jump on the NFT bandwagon and becoming an “environmentally-friendly NFT platform that allows users to support their favourite artists”.
Many other crypto social media projects emerge, but until now none can move past the proof of concept. So what if it were the existing social media that integrated crypto?
Existing social media embracing crypto
As the blockchain becomes an increasingly important part of the Internet, some social media platforms have in one way or another expressed their crypto sympathies.
Reddit looks naturally suitable for integrating crypto, as it is famous for its strong-minded (and often libertarian) communities capable of real-world exploits (think of r/WallStreetBets that pushed up GME stocks and caused Wall Street bears some very serious trouble). And indeed, this year Reddit is testing the conversion of its Karma points (reputation measure given by users to users for their content and comments) into tokens that can exist outside the platform. For the moment only the users of r/cryptocurrency and r/FortNiteBR have had their karma points moved to the Rinkeby Testnet on the Arbitrum network (layer 2 on Ethereum), but as the experiment goes on, all 500M of Reddit users would have access to this feature.
Reddit is composed of subreddits – communities gathered around a theme and moderated by users (community founders or delegates). Subreddits can impose minimal karma requirements for users to post or comment, so having it secured on a blockchain and publicly associated with one’s Reddit profile is not a bad thing. Moreover, community points could be used in the future to vote on the changes in subreddit’s policy, so eventually this system could have impact on the platform’s governance.
Twitter went another way and bet on monetizing content. In September it rolled out an update adding Bitcoin and Lightning Network to its Tip Jar functionality, allowing anyone to tip any Twitter account with a crypto wallet. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey also hinted at an upcoming NFT integration that would allow putting user’s NFT on their profile picture, with the ownership verified on the blockchain.
All this still seems far from “fixing the social media”, but it is a beginning. It is still early to say if one day we could enjoy an independent social network, governed by its users and an open-source algorithm. What is sure is that the integration has started, and it is very likely to continue, taking new social media further from Facebook-like dictatorship.
Or at least that’s what we are hoping for 😅
Art and NFT
What’s left of an NFT when you take away the money aspect? The world’s biggest fine art museum - St-Petersburg State Hermitage Museum - launched a metaverse-like digital art exhibit called The Ethereal Aether. Curated by Dmitri Ozerkov, Hermitage’s director of contemporary art, this free exhibition shows NFTs without ever mentioning their price, as “the cost of art is secondary to its value” - and we cannot agree more.
Despite Russia’s ambiguous stance on crypto, Hermitage has already tested the utility of NFTs, selling NFT replicas of physical works of art stored in the museum, with $400k profits going to their restauration.
This week Bitcoin price marked another all-time high of $69k, before falling 9% and then stabilizing at $65k level.
As the American Labor Department published an official Concumer Price Index rate showing a 6.2% yearly increase, inflation fears have intensified, which quite naturally led to a spike in BTC price, confirming its increasing importance as an inflation hedge.
We at D.Center think that the real inflation could be even bigger than 6.2%: CPI calculation mathodology changes constantly and impairs the stats… For instance, if they used the same method since the 80s, inflation rate would now be close to 15%.
Another good news for Bitcoin - the Taproot upgrade is now live, allowing cheaper multisig transactions and layer-2 pegs, contributing to the already fast layer-2 developments.
Ethereum has continued its steady rise and gained another 4% this week. It is now worth over $4’700.
Quote of the week
“I do. I think it’s reasonable to own it as part of a diversified portfolio.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook, answering the question whether he owns Bitcoin