The widespread use of social media has changed the way we communicate, however, not everyone thinks these changes are positive. For example, the lack of strict moderation of social media content has contributed to the spread of misinformation during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Even before COVID-19, many users were unsatisfied of how social media platforms were addressing disinformation, censorship, privacy, political neutrality, user control, and malicious activity.
Decentralized social networks and communities are more flexible than centralized ones, but they provide more opportunities for the disadvantages that are suppressed in centralized communities. This is the small paradox of decentralized communities.
What are decentralized social networks and communities?
Decentralized social networks run on independent servers, not a centralized server owned by a particular business. For example, the decentralized social network Mastodon is based on open-source software and looks a lot like Twitter. Another example of a decentralized community is Steem, which runs on a social blockchain. Blockchain technology allows you to store data records on servers anywhere in the world. This promotes transparency as the data can be viewed in real time by anyone on the web.
Decentralized community – uniting system users by conducting activities and using services with absolute equality of all users within the framework of a decentralized community management model. Free TON is a prime example of a decentralized community. The project has already created a decentralized Surf browser, three types of tokens and a DePool decentralized staking pool. Free TON plans to expand the geography of the network and the development of decentralization tools, affecting both the software development process and the user interface, and all levels of validation, governance and community formation.
Decentralized social networks and communities provide a higher level of control and autonomy for members than centralized ones.
There are also federated decentralized social networks and communities. The principle of interaction between users is significantly different. Fediverse is a prime example.
For example, Twitter allows users to post and receive messages only to those with Twitter accounts (for example, Twitter users cannot post to Facebook accounts due to the lack of cross-platform). Federated decentralized social networks and communities allow users to communicate independently of the network and community. This is the main difference between decentralized social networks and centralized social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Email is an example of how federated decentralized social networks work. Take Google and Yandex, for example. Each company sets its own rules for working with email for users. Google does not set rules for Yandex users. However, Google users can send and receive emails from Yandex users and vice versa. Federated decentralized social networks and communities work similarly.
Pros and cons of decentralized social networks and communities
Centralized social media fosters communication, community building and knowledge sharing. People can use social media to drive social and political change, raise awareness of important issues, raise funds, and promote their businesses. The main advantages of decentralized social networks and communities are lack of censorship, ownership of personal data, free content generation, no advertising, new monetization models.
User control, freedom of speech and censorship resistance
Corporate structures control large social networks, and a small group of people in these companies set the rules for interaction between users. This raises concerns about free speech and censorship among users. Bans on violent, hateful, and dangerous posts help protect social media users from malicious online activity, but some believe the bans go against the ideals of free speech.
A decentralized social network gives users more freedom. Unlike centralized social networks, decentralized networks and communities promote user independence. Benefits include lack of censorship, ownership of personal data, and deeper control over user content. In other words, no one, be it a corporation or an administrator, can make changes to user-generated content. No one can delete user-generated content.
In a decentralized society, no group can dictate rules to other groups. For example, any Free TON user can start their own thread on a forum without a central authority, meaning they (and other users) can post whatever they want without worrying about their post being deleted. The disadvantage of this structure is that hate groups are given more leeway. While individuals can block such users, they cannot prevent them from participating in the network.
Personal data, privacy and security
User concerns about the control of their personal data have led to the creation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe. Users are legally defined as “data controllers”. Centralized social networks are also “data controllers”. According to this regulation, social networks should transfer an optimal amount of control over personal data to users, at least to those based in Europe. Centralized social media are punished for non-compliance with GDPR rules.
Decentralized social networks and communities have provided more options for data privacy and security. In federated decentralized social networks, users can create accounts without being tied to real data, such as email addresses or phone numbers. Moreover, these networks and communities often rely on blockchain infrastructure with private keys to provide maximum account security.
Economic neutrality (no targeted advertising)
Economic neutrality (no advertising) is the primary reason why a large number of people are starting to use decentralized social networks and communities – this is the desire to get rid of annoying ads. Federated social networks and communities are looking for new forms of monetization like Telegram. Digital currency is often used to stimulate activities on the platform. For example, Steem pays its users to create quality content, which encourages content creators to focus on the quality of their content.
Examples of successful decentralized communities
Free TON is a PoS network operated by a decentralized community and focused on decentralized governance. It is based on the open-source TON project previously developed by Telegram. Free TON has never had an ICO and will never have a token sale. Instead, the project implements the TON Crystal token distribution model, which is recognized as a revolution in the world of cryptocurrencies. Free TON outperforms other popular PoS networks in terms of decentralization, such as Polkadot.
Free TON is a social movement for a free and open, decentralized internet. This is a new generation blockchain technology that does not belong to anyone. The network has neither an owner nor a centralized management that would decide what and when to do, as well as what tools or projects to implement. Instead, Free TON applies the principles of decentralized governance, giving the community the opportunity to participate in the development of the project, contribute and make decisions.
Free TON’s technological approach is the first multi-threaded, versatile, highly scalable low latency blockchain system. It uses the Proof-of-Stake consensus. Free TON promotes the unique concept of end-to-end decentralization. The community plans to ensure maximum decentralization at the levels of governance, software development, validation, and user interface.
Polkadot is a completely decentralized project. A key component of Polkadot’s consensus is a community governance system that allows token holders to express their opinions on the future of the ecosystem.
Validation was not initially decentralized but was eventually passed on to the community through Proof-of-Stake consensus, where more than half of the DOT tokens in circulation are now in use.
Polkadot employs a sophisticated governance system in which all members have a vote. Network upgrades are coordinated and carried out autonomously. This demonstrates that Polkadot’s development reflects the values of the community.
Conclusion: the future belongs to decentralization
Decentralization is essential for the development of civilization. Decentralization through blockchain can provide complete transparency in governance, financing and communication. Users are going to change the mechanics of social networks and communities so that they are more democratic and freer from annoying centralized organizations that interfere with the socialization process in their own interests.
Decentralized communities are evolving and gaining momentum. A striking example of a revolutionary decentralized community is the Free TON Community – in the shortest possible time, the project has formed a huge community around itself, which did not go unnoticed.