Decentralized Social Media Networks on Ethereum
Blockchain social media platforms constitute a fast-developing sector, and much of the growth is taking place on the Ethereum network.
Updated January 31, 2022 • 4 min read
Decentralized social media networks are in a growth state, with Ethereum-based social networks responsible for a significant amount of this expansion. Migration to decentralized social media is largely driven by user desire for privacy, open discourse, monetization options, and transparent code and content moderation policies. Popular networks built on Ethereum include Minds, Peepeth, and Indorse.io. From microblogging to video-sharing platforms, these decentralized alternatives are carving a niche in the greater social media landscape.
The Rise of Ethereum-Based Social Networks
While social media apps have become a pillar of the internet experience, a number of pain points have consistently emerged: censorship and demonetization, shadow-banning, lack of privacy, diminished access, and growth in security issues brought about by centralized control. In response, the blockchain-based social media ecosystem is in a state of rapid development, and aims to build a new generation of social tech products. Social media based on blockchain technology has the potential to remedy many of the above issues by building with decentralized protocols. These decentralized social networks can be designed to be censorship-resistant, immutable, transparent, equitable, and built with underlying payment networks built into the product.
Blockchain-based social media takes a number of forms, with decentralized competitors to Youtube, Twitter, Medium, Facebook, and LinkedIn — among others. While decentralized blockchain social media platforms exist on numerous blockchain protocols, the Ethereum social media landscape has in particular experienced a state of rapid growth, thanks in part to its ERC-20 tokens, its popular non-fungible token (NFT) standard (ERC-721), and its dominance in the decentralized finance (DeFi) marketplace.
Let’s take a look at some of the Ethereum-based social networks that are seeking to gain market share — and possibly replace — today’s social media behemoths.
Peepeth: An Ethereum Social Network for Microblogging
Powered by Ethereum and the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), Peepeth could be considered a decentralized version of Twitter — with some extra blockchain-enabled functions like crypto tipping and immutable tweets. Launched in 2018, Peepeth is an open-source smart contract running on Ethereum that is also accessible via web browser at Peepeth.com. Thanks to this design, it's possible for Peepeth to directly provide other decentralized services by interacting with other smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps).
Peepeth’s version of tweets — peeps — are stored on the blockchain. This helps make the platform highly censorship-resistant, as peeps can’t be changed or deleted once posted — even by the post’s creator. Because your peep data is stored on Ethereum, there are no intermediaries required between you and your posts, which gives you a high degree of control over your account data. This is intended to encourage more responsible and thoughtful posting, as your peeps are publicly available in perpetuity.
In addition to a content moderation policy, Peepeth engages in a number of practices to encourage positive interactions and content. In lieu of an unlimited number of “likes” or “hearts,” you are only allowed one “Ensō” (meaning “circle”) per day. This is designed to help make a reaction more special, thoughtful, and meaningful. Like peeps themselves, an Ensō is evergreen. You are only able to pin someone else’s peep to your profile, not your own. Also, sensitive topics like #politics can be auto-hidden for users who would rather avoid discourse on certain subjects.
Other notable features on Peepeth include:
Spam resistance: Because it costs money to post on-chain, bots and spammers can’t flood the network without spending significant amounts of money. Users can still peep for free, however, as Peepeth covers these costs for accounts in good standing.
Monetization: You can accept crypto tips in ether (ETH); Peepeth charges a 10% fee.
Interoperability: Peepeth is open-source and supports the use of alternate apps on its platform. You can also verify your identity on Peepeth via your Github or Twitter account.
Advertisement-free platform: Because its revenue model isn’t focused on advertising, Peepeth can prioritize curating positive interactions — not just engagement in general.
The Indorse platform is similar to LinkedIn in that it focuses on tech candidates and building professional networks, but it’s decentralized. Powered by its ERC-20 indorse token (IND), this decentralized social network aims to provide more accurate credentialing and skills verification via its “indorsements” system. An Ethereum-based social network, Indorse.io rewards users with IND tokens for proving their skills on the platform using a decentralized verification system; advertisers can also purchase ad space using IND. Users of the platform are also incentivized with IND rewards to vouch for colleagues using a reputational endorsement system.
Additionally, the Indorse crypto platform offers a code review service. Vetted reviewers stake IND to be eligible to conduct code reviews. Once their code review is complete, they can get paid by signing an ETH transaction using MetaMask. At the time of writing, Indorse is updating to Indorse 2.0, which will enable IND staking, gradually decentralize governance via the Indorse decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), and enable IND token pair trading via liquidity pool on some of the more popular decentralized exchanges (DEXs).
The Minds Social Media Network
With open-source code and algorithms, some consider Minds to be the “anti-Facebook” of decentralized social networks. Unlike other blockchain-based social media networks, Minds.com is also fairly popular with a more general audience in addition to already crypto-savvy users. The Minds social network is one of the largest decentralized alternatives and has seen significant growth — increasing from 1 million users in 2018 to 5 million users in 2021.
Minds prioritizes user privacy by allowing account holders a high degree of control over their content and data. Users have the ability to delete all their activity if they choose to do so; on the other hand, users can also permanently back up their posts by putting them on the permaweb via Mind’s Arweave integration. The Minds social network also aims for a highly transparent spam and content moderation policy, with its policy largely inspired by the First Amendment, and enforced by a community jury. This structure is designed to encourage civil discourse and discussion, while at the same time minimizing the bias, censorship, and opaque policy applications that have at times dogged legacy social networks.
Minds uses its ERC-20 token MINDS to reward users for quality content creation, code contributions, and other actions that contribute to its ecosystem. Users can connect their MetaMask wallet to the Minds social network and can earn rewards in numerous ways. You can receive direct payments — or crypto tips — in bitcoin (BTC), ETH, MIND, and other cryptocurrencies. Users can also join Minds Plus, which has bonus features and allows content creators with popular posts to receive a cut of Mind platform revenues.
The Minds social media network has continued to evolve and is offering notable cryptographic and DeFi features not found on many platforms, including:
Boost: This smart contract-powered advertising tool allows creators and advertisers to interact in a peer-to-peer (P2P) fashion without intermediaries. Advertisers can tender an offer that creators are free to reject or accept. If accepted, the creator will receive immediate payment and the advertiser will receive a placement on a post that can’t be deleted. This cuts out arbitrary demonetization via third-party interference. Boost can also be used by creators to promote their channel content.
MindsChat: An end-to-end encrypted messaging app that allows users to communicate privately. MindsChat features encrypted file-sharing and video calling. In addition to MindsChat interactions, users can also use bridges to interact with users on Signal, Slack, and Twitter.
UniSwap integration: The Minds social network has expanded by adding Uniswap liquidity pools. By providing liquidity to pools, users are able to receive MIND in return via the yield farming process. Through this DeFi integration, Minds has also introduced a concept called “ad mining.” This allows liquidity providers to earn a digital billboard on the Minds social media network, another avenue to expand reach and gain exposure for their channels and content.
Centralized and Decentralized Social Media Uses Ethereum
Aware of the changing tides in technology, a number of legacy social networks are adopting crypto tech — at least in part. Reddit rewards quality contributions and comments with Community Points, an ERC-20 token that can be used to acquire exclusive perks. Twitter is also working on an ambitious project called Bluesky, an initiative to build a decentralized social media standard upon which Twitter is eventually expected to migrate.
Decentralized social media is a popular use case for blockchain, and holds a lot of potential. While there is no guarantee that blockchain social media platforms will continue to prefer Ethereum to other open-source blockchain networks such as Bitcoin Cash, social media is undoubtedly moving in a decentralized direction. Transparency, censorship-resistance, and user privacy have been growing concerns for millions of users of social media platforms, and the blockchain sector is making progress toward addressing them.
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