Web 3.0: Decentralized Social Media Is The Next Big Trend
As social media fatigue is setting on, we can note major layoffs in centralized platforms. Indeed, centralized platforms are riddled with privacy issues, predatory marketing, and algorithmic discrimination, such as unfair shadow-banning, that deprive users of a meaningful experience and defeat the point of being on social media. In that respect, the former Twitter administration went so far into algorithmic persecution that it sparked a tsunami of change in social media habits such as, alternative platforms, encryption, and digital identity fragmentation. Hundreds of brand-new social media platforms tailored to user needs gained in popularity during the pandemic. It is impossible to be on all of them and it is not necessary either.
Going forward, we note that the one-way follower model embraced by still-standing platforms like Twitter, Youtube, and TikTok will remain, however the two-way model of platforms like Facebook emulating the short-lived initial Myspace is frankly already dead. The two-way model (follow-for-follow) is one of the reasons I left Facebook in 2013 (and never looked back). The friends in common and friends-of-friends features became beyond uncomfortable when parents and grand-parents began tagging me without my consent and lawyers began compiling lists of exes to write affidavits against me. I realized that, unless you work at a law firm or the police, nothing good ever comes out from the two-way model. Again, different users, different needs. Facebook used to be great for spying when everyone was on it, now it’s kind of meh in that respect.
Can social media platforms be decentralized?
Given that at this moment there is no social media platform that is perfect for everyone’s needs, the outcry to allow users to build their own platforms on the blockchain is heard ever louder. To fill the vacuum, several start-ups are launching open-source protocols and alpha stages for the coding of web 3.0 beta-protocols, and it is important for investors to pay attention.
On February 23, A16z Crypto invested $25.5M in the Town Square project, co-founded by two startup veterans Ben Rubin, co-founder of Houseparty and Meerkat, and Brian Meek, who was CTO of Strivr Labs and former head of engineering at Skype.
What is Towns?
Towns is a web3 communication platform for online communities that offers a complete system for community builders:
- On-chain (Ethereum) ownership and actions
- Composability with smart contracts
- End-to-end encryption
- (Eventually) full decentralization and open source
Towns is described as a decentralized group chat protocol and app, or a crypto-communications platform for online communities that offers an system for community owners and creators. The project has been compared to a decentralized uncensored encrypted discord with support for smart contracts. It will be possible to create channels inside Towns, connect integrations, distribute rights, roles.
1. Smart contracts to facilitate programming of a Town square
3. Messaging app with wallet integration built on the Towns protocol
A chat server based on the Matrix protocol has been created in the alpha release. The team forked Matrix Dendrite and added authentication with an Ethereum wallet.
After the alpha release, the server platform can be replaced by proof-of-authority, which will give confidence that user messages are delivered honestly and are not censored by the nodes.
Smart contracts are used to establish community rules and define custom business models.
You can interact with test smart contracts on the Ether goerli protocol
To become a tester, you need to subscribe to Alpha access and leave your ETH address.
Benefits for testers:
1. Getting an NFT that will give you access to Towns Alpha and the ability to mint your Town
2. Gaining access to Pioneer Town as early adopters
- Explore the Towns website
- Learn about Towns components and smart contracts.
We’ve seen that smart contracts run on the Ethereum blockchain which is not so decentralized after all (let’s say it is residually centralized), still I see this project as a step forward to fill an important vacuum. Moreover, users will be able to rely on enhanced privacy protection protocols or stealth addresses allowing to obfuscate the identity of their wallets. like