Decentralized Social Media: Is it a Megatrend or a Fad?

Decentralized Social Media Is it a Megatrend or a Fad

Decentralised social media is a hot issue right now. Even though the sector is still in its infancy, it has already attracted billions of dollars and millions of consumers.

I just sent out a message to my readers in which I advised them to investigate this as one of the two big trends that would dominate marketing and business in 2023. Subscribe to my newsletter here to get weekly insights and strategic tips in your inbox.

Let's take a deeper look at decentralised platforms in the meantime.

With the latest developments at Twitter, it seems that the world is moving away from billionaire-owned social networks. There are now options.

At the time of writing, Mastodon is the most popular Twitter alternative. Jack Dorsey (Twitter co-founder and ex-owner) is developing Bluesky, a blockchain-based social network (currently in beta). So far, it's been positively welcomed.

What implications does this have for "conventional" social media platforms? Will a decentralised platform replace the traditional ones? Let's embark on an adventure!

First, a short refresher:

Decentralised Social Networks: What Are They?

Decentralised social networks are platforms that function on their own servers. Traditional social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, function on centralized servers that the firm owns.

Mastodon, for example, is a "federated" network, which implies that instead of a mega-corporation, the servers are operated by a varied variety of users. You have two possibilities as a Mastodon user:

Choose a server that is managed by someone else, and have faith that they will not use or distort your data.
Create your own server.
As predicted, this federated approach brings with it a new set of advantages and disadvantages.

Decentralized Social Media Benefits

The first apparent advantage of decentralization is that expenses are distributed among users, removing the need for the "mother lode" to monetize their data.

Furthermore, with blockchain in the picture, everything becomes more transparent.

Users may also choose the server that best meets their communication requirements. There's something for everyone, from free speech for everyone to carefully controlled and monitored servers.

The Drawbacks of Decentralized Social Media

To begin with the technical concerns, many Mastodon users report that the server they are on does not run the most recent version of the platform. Interaction becomes sluggish, buggy, and unpleasant as a result. While some are ready to put up with a limited, stripped-down version of Twitter for the sake of independence, others would rather give up part of that freedom for comfort.

More significantly, maintaining a social media network is costly. Traditional platforms cover these expenses with your data.

These expenses are distributed among users in decentralized social networks. If you're not a media business or someone who uses a decentralised network religiously, you may be able to get away with joining another person's server, thus (at least ostensibly, as we'll see in a second) social networking is still free for you.

However, it also implies that the server owner has the right to eject you anytime they choose, with no reason, just like it does on Facebook or Instagram. Moderation practises on independently owned servers might sometimes change, so you're not completely protected.

Consider media behemoths such as the New York Times or the BBC. Their expenses for hosting a Mastodon server are enormous—the more media, the higher the cost.

Solutions? There are a few.

The most apparent is to pay and then attempt to monetize.

Alternatively, pool resources with other behemoths and share the expenses but also the advantages. Of course, this raises a slew of additional issues, such as who has the last say in moderation decisions.

The Dangers of Decentralized Social Media

For the time being, decentralised media seems to be a pleasant place for everyone. This is because it exists in a legislative vacuum.

Unlike conventional social media, where regulatory authorities may and have intervened, it is difficult to regulate...well, everyone and their mother. Sure, rules and regulations develop, but they often lag behind technological advancements.

At any cost, complete independence Fans may find it difficult to accept that decentralised social media isn't free—either financially or in terms of free expression. No, even if there is no controlling legislation or set of laws to limit your freedom of expression.

Similarly, severe law adherents will not find refuge on decentralized social media. It's chaos on purpose. As a result, misuse of all kinds is both conceivable and probable.

Finally, the federated paradigm does not guarantee zero data exploitation. If you join someone else's server, there's no assurance that they won't use your data for... well, pretty much anything.

Last Thoughts

We have no idea what the future holds for this burgeoning new social media trend. Will people flock to it?

"[T]he world favors using Windows and macOS over the considerably more versatile and adjustable Linux operating systems," writes Bloomberg's Vlad Savov. We want convenience, even if it means sacrificing capabilities. We expect things to be done for us. Most significantly, we take free services like Twitter for granted.

He's partly correct: some users lack the technical skills required to create their own social network infrastructure. Others do not have the time, while still others do not care enough.

We must not, however, forget that the younger generations are authority challengers. They are digital natives, which implies that learning new digital abilities comes naturally to them.

The growth of decentralized social media is heavily reliant on established platforms; if they play their cards well, few will have a motivation to abandon them. Lawmakers also play an important role in this, as they must walk a tight line between safeguarding consumers and permitting social networks to commercialize user data.

It's too soon to tell. However, it is never too early to begin experimenting with it.

On my blog, you may learn more about current trends to watch and receive strategic guidance.

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Hey, I’m Rachid. I’m a writer. I am a fan of technology, sports, and education. I’m also interested in entrepreneurship and design.

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