By Cyrus John: Just lately, the favored messaging platform, WhatsApp, went into snooze mode for nearly 2 hours, rendering greater than a billion of its customers offline. What ensued was an infinite barrage of memes, tweets and headlines throughout social media highlighting the frustration the downtime had triggered.
This wasn’t the primary time WhatsApp was down. There have been a number of cases previously when messaging functions or social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube have been down as a consequence of server points. Not to say that there is not any assure that these companies will be out there to you 24×7 as a result of someday out of the blue, the federal government may determine to tug the plug on any of those apps. I’ll wait until you’ll be able to consider an instance. Tik-Tok, time’s up.
The undeniable fact that WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube or any centralised messaging platform can go offline or be taken down tomorrow establishes the necessity for a decentralised messaging platform.
The introduction of Web3 has given rise to an array of decentralised companies and functions that don’t want a centralised server to function. These functions are constructed largely on high of blockchain expertise. Blockchain permits functions to exist on quite a few nodes (computer systems) so no app on it might’t go offline or be taken down that simply.
But is all of this price migrating to decentralised platforms? What if these companies aren’t pretty much as good as the present choices? I do know you may have your doubts and may not purchase the thought of those decentralised messiahs however hear me out, you may need a change of coronary heart earlier than I finish this piece.
THE STATUS QUO
Seemingly, a lot of customers have had it with huge tech firms’ “My Way or the Highway” perspective. If you need to use WhatsApp, you need to agree with the privateness coverage. If you need to use Gmail, your emails will be accessed for advertisements. Every side round these ‘free’ centralised companies has a catch. Eventually, you’re buying and selling your non-public knowledge for the luxurious of utilizing these companies.
A Netflix documentary known as The Social Dilemma dives deeper into how your behaviour on these messaging apps and social media is being tracked and then a profile is created to focus on particular advertisements. The AI is so detailed that Meta (earlier referred to as Facebook) would possibly know extra about you than you realize about your self.
Just like there aren’t any free lunches in life, these messaging apps and social media platforms feast on your knowledge and then promote them to advertisers for cash. This is their enterprise mannequin to make income. Selling advertisements utilizing your knowledge has made these firms price billions. Imagine if these advertisers paid you to your knowledge! What if net browsers (with out compromising your knowledge) paid you for looking the web? Blockchain makes this attainable.
Several decentralised social media platforms provide customers extra autonomy and management over their knowledge. This means, all of your looking knowledge and info is saved in a number of servers throughout the globe in order that no single entity can observe it. Some advantages embody resistance to censorship, private knowledge possession, and extra management over user-generated content material.
Brave is a decentralised net browser that gives its customers crypto to browse the web. To add to this, you additionally get sooner looking and diminished publicity to censorship amongst different options.
Social media platforms like Mastadon provide such liberty the place posts and movies can’t be taken down that simply simply because some high hat on the firm didn’t like your content material. The draw back to that is that there would possibly be a lot of hate speech that finally ends up on platforms however since that is a community-driven platform, customers can vote for a particular put up to be taken down if it promotes hate speech, incites violence or violates any of the platform’s insurance policies. But once more, the neighborhood decides the destiny of the content material; not CEOs, not the federal government or a group of offended activists.
But how do platforms like Mastadon earn a living for upkeep because it’s free and doesn’t have advertisements neither is subscription-based? This is the fantastic thing about blockchain tech. Since all the info is saved on a number of nodes throughout the globe, every node manages its upkeep for rewards within the type of cryptocurrencies. The algorithm incentivises nodes for the laborious work they put in to keep up the blockchain. This means, everybody will get to be blissful.
The way forward for social media and web looking may see customers being paid in crypto for looking or getting rewards for internet hosting advertisements on their personalised pages. A real democratic ecosystem.
The potentialities are infinite and this fashion, the consumer or client is instantly incentivised to work together with manufacturers with out the necessity for a intermediary like Facebook or Google Chrome.
LBRY is one other instance of a decentralised video-hosting platform (like YouTube). You can add hours of video content material on it and don’t have to fret about your video being censored or taken down except the neighborhood members say in any other case. And this neighborhood would be free-thinking, wise and unbiased members on the platform.
Messaging apps like Session, Dm3 are examples of decentralised options to WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal. They aren’t pretty much as good as the present batch of Web2 apps however being on decentralised servers provides them the added benefit of catering to Web3 customers.
TIME TO SWITCH?
This is a troublesome query and most would be perched atop a razor’s edge when answering this. Web2 apps have set a very excessive benchmark for decentralised platforms to match. The fluidity, the simple entry, and the huge ecosystem; to not point out that billions of customers out of your ‘pados waali aunty’ to the ‘rickshaw wala’ already know find out how to use WhatsApp or YouTube.
I’m not saying that these decentralised platforms are the right options. WhatsApp and YouTube have been the de facto gold normal for all of your communication and info search wants for years. I don’t need to discredit years of analysis and growth and the cash these huge tech firms have put into their merchandise to make them user-friendly and common amongst billions of customers throughout the globe. These are glorious merchandise and even I exploit them every day.
However, like me, many are in search of a better various as they concern their non-public chats are being monitored or would possibly find yourself being a a part of night information debates. The Rhea/Deepika WhatsApp chat leaks and Telegrams knowledge breach are prime examples. Since knowledge on the blockchain is encrypted and doesn’t exist on a single server, the possibilities of a breach or leaks usually are not that frequent.
Facebook (Meta) has misplaced its pull as a appreciable variety of customers are opting to get off the social media platform. Hashtags like #deletefacebook had been trending on Twitter a whereas again. Instagram, YouTube, and Google nonetheless rule the roost however reside in fixed concern of accelerating Web3 adoption as this may see the ‘energy of information’ transfer into the palms of the individuals and that’s not one thing that these huge tech firms need.
Just lately, ex-Twitter boss, Jack Dorsey-backed decentralised social media platform, BlueSky, roped in additional than 30,000 sign-ups in simply 48 hours which signifies that persons are up and excited to strive new and upcoming Web3 platforms. And that is just the start.
With the evolution of blockchain tech and the beginning of latest AI-enabled Web3 functions, the way forward for social media and messaging platforms is just not on centralised servers however on the blockchain. This will guarantee financial neutrality by retaining these pesky and invasive advertisements away.
I perceive that these messaging functions and decentralised social media platforms are nonetheless at a nascent stage of growth and may not provide the form of companies that at present WhatsApp or Telegram deliver to the desk. Key points like scalability, latency, safety and incentives must be handled earlier than Web3-based decentralised apps can go mainstream and I really feel it’s simply a matter of time earlier than apps like these will be on the checklist of your telephone’s “Most used apps”.