Social media would be better on a blockchain

In a previous column, I discussed how the big players in social media profit enormously from the value that ordinary users like you and I generate. These platforms have total control over the content we create, offering us little to no say in how it’s managed, and they can even revoke our access to our profiles. Consequently, all the revenue generated by our efforts goes straight into their coffers.

I mentioned Substack as an alternative with lower take rates, allowing content creators to benefit more directly from their work because it uses a common protocol—email—that isn’t controlled by any corporate entity.

Enter the Blockchain

There’s another protocol that’s also not controlled by a central entity—in fact, it’s specifically designed to avoid such control and to enable individuals to own and monetize their content: the blockchain.

Blockchain technology might seem complex, but it’s fundamentally straightforward. It uses cryptography to create unique “hashes” of digital data. A hash acts like a digital fingerprint for a set of data. A computer processes the data to produce a smaller set of bytes that uniquely identifies the original data. Even the slightest change in the original data results in a different hash, allowing one to prove that the original data hasn’t been tampered with.

Social Networks Meet Private Property

Blockchains incorporate these unique hashes into an immutable sequence of entries, or blocks. Each block verifies the next by containing a hash of the subsequent entry, creating a chain where any alteration is immediately noticeable and easily rejected through network consensus. This ensures the integrity of the entire blockchain. The public ledger thus created is unalterable and can be audited by anyone at any time.

Unfortunately, blockchain technology has garnered a negative reputation, often associated solely with cryptocurrency, volatility, and a “casino culture,” a term borrowed from Chris Dixon’s book, *Read Write Own: Building the Next Era of the Internet*. However, cryptocurrency is just a small part of what blockchain technology can do. Its real potential lies in enabling digital ownership of identity and content.

Beyond Cryptocurrency: Digital Ownership and Scarcity

Because blockchains can create digital uniqueness, they also enable digital scarcity. This is achieved through mechanisms like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which assign a unique, non-reproducible identifier on the blockchain that can be controlled by an individual. Many people mistakenly view NFTs as just digital images for speculation, but NFTs actually enable true ownership of digital property.

Combine this concept with the creation of digital tokens that hold value, and the possibilities are endless. Tokens aren’t necessarily “money” but can represent various forms of value.

Imagine a Better Social Network

Picture a social network governed by code with rules that cannot be altered without the members’ consent. Every post and comment would be digitally signed and identifiable as yours, with the entire network and its content residing on a blockchain.

Such a network could issue tokens to members whose posts and comments generate attention and value. Members would reward tokens to creators they value, and developers who add new features would also be incentivized. If these tokens were redeemable for cash, it would create a robust ecosystem where everyone benefits from participation.

These decentralized social networks would be accessible to all, free from central control by private entities. They would be managed by the network members, with rules publicly defined and unchangeable without member consent.

Doesn’t this sound far more appealing than enriching corporate fat cats?


Hello there! I'm a 21-year-old university student majoring in Finnish and Korean Language and Literature. I have a deep passion for art and a profound connection to the natural world. My journey through life has been a colorful one, driven by my love for creativity, music, and the wonders of the great outdoors. As a dedicated student, I've already earned a degree in Classic Cantos, a testament to my appreciation for the timeless beauty of classical music. Beyond the classroom, my artistic spirit thrives through my love for painting and drawing. These creative outlets allow me to express my thoughts and emotions, transforming blank canvases into vibrant stories. My interests go far beyond music and art. Singing, playing the piano, and exploring new melodies are integral parts of my life, providing me with both solace and exhilaration. When I'm not immersed in the world of art and music, I find solace in nature's embrace. My heart is drawn to animals and the serene beauty of the natural world, fueling my desire to protect and preserve our precious environment.