What is a decentralized social network?

Nowadays, if you want to keep in touch with a certain friend, you will most likely need social media. Whether we want to read the news, talk to our loved ones, or share updates related to our lives, connecting via the web has become an important part of our daily routine. And in that context, the decentralized social network, a relatively new phenomenon, began to appear and became more and more popular.

But what is a decentralized social network? And can it one day replace the traditional social network we are using today?

What is Decentralization?

You have probably heard the term “decentralized” when reading the news about cryptocurrencies or NFTs. This type of technology has become extremely popular over the past few years, as it provides a more transparent, fairer, and more secure network solution. In a decentralized network, no single entity holds all the data in their hands. Instead, data is distributed among nodes, or connection points, within the network.

This structure makes it very difficult for hackers to find a way to gain access and control a network. In addition, the network does not have a central management apparatus, thereby creating a fairer and more collaborative environment.

Decentralization is the backbone of the crypto industry, with every transaction securely stored on the blockchain. But how do decentralization and social networking come together?

How does a decentralized social network work?

The most important thing to note about the decentralized social network is that it does not have a central server. Many of the largest social networks in the world today, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are centralized social networks, meaning that there is one entity that has complete control over the network. This form can be quite dangerous, as it increases the risk of large-scale attacks, hijackings, and data leaks.

Decentralized social networks have a very special characteristic: multiple decentralized networks can coexist within them. This means that individuals can choose which networks they prefer to join. Any user can create their own network, allowing individuals with similar interests or ideas to connect.

Such platforms use a management system instead of relying on the opinions of a few individuals to make decisions. Users can vote to have their say in the development of the platform, rather than obeying whatever the central authority wants.

Thus, the decentralized social network brings a breath of fresh air to digital communication, where multiple networks can coexist in one platform, all controlled by independent servers. .

So, what does that mean for us, the users, and for the social media companies themselves?

Enhanced security

Decentralized social networking platforms use many independent servers to operate, unlike traditional platforms. You've probably heard of popular social networks crashing because of server crashes, and it's really not that uncommon.

Thus, by using multiple servers, the possibility of the entire network crashing due to technical failures is minimized. Besides, the possibility of DDoS attacks is also greatly reduced when using a distributed system like this.

And yet, users will not need to authenticate themselves when joining decentralized social networks. They can choose to use a nickname, thereby adding an extra layer of privacy.

Enhanced user control

Another problem that users do not have enough of when using social networking platforms is control. A social network is developed by users and the development team can meet user needs or not. Therefore, it makes more sense for users to take control of the social network they are using.

This is one of the core concepts behind the decentralized social network. Empowering users with data, interoperability, and a general social experience is key to unlocking a fair and equal network for all. Avoiding Big Tech censorship is also a plus in the process of further empowering users.

But decentralized networks are not perfect. Like any other technology, decentralized social networks also have areas for improvement.

Weaknesses of decentralized social networks

It is indisputable that decentralized social networking platforms offer a number of interesting advantages. But there are also risks associated with this type of technology, the first being that malicious actors can take advantage of its structure for personal gain.

While the idea of ​​creating multiple decentralized networks sounds pretty cool, there's always the possibility that hateful, illegal content spreads quickly through malicious communities. Since you can post anything on your own network, it's very easy for groups of malicious users to spread the content publicly.

Although many decentralized social networks have a set of ethical standards, users can still find ways to take advantage of new or smaller networks that do not have strict regulations.

In addition, there is a possibility that users with a common goal will try to manipulate the management system to their liking, meaning that the platform itself will no longer be fair.

Do decentralized social networks already exist?

With so many advantages that a decentralized social network has to offer, you may be wondering if this kind of thing already exists? The answer is that you are probably already using it.

A hugely popular decentralized social networking platform is Mastodon, with over 4 million users since its 2016 launch. The platform includes multiple intranets for different communities, allowing users to Connect with other like-minded friends. It even has many anti-abuse tools to protect users against defamation and other dangers.

A variety of blockchain-powered social media platforms such as Steemit are also in the works.

But why hasn't any platform attracted as many users as traditional networks, like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook...?

First, the idea of ​​decentralization is still very far away for many people. At the moment, only people who love technology, crypto, or NFT know about how decentralization works, because the technology is simply not popular enough for many people to need to grasp.

Furthermore, many decentralized social networks are not as user-friendly as today's largest platforms, and the simplicity or complexity of an application's interface is what makes, or prevents, the success of an application. its merit. On top of that, many people don't know that social media platforms can get their data for their own purposes, as well as censor content, so at the moment the vast majority of the public doesn't realize it. the need for a new type of online connection such as a decentralized social network.

It can be said that until now, decentralized social networking platforms are still only a "niche" in the social networking industry.

Has potential but takes time

Social networks are extremely sophisticated machines that take years to run smoothly. That's why it also took years for the decentralized social network to become popular and useful enough to attract large numbers of users to learn.

But that doesn't mean they don't have potential. With more and more people disgruntled with Big Tech and the frequent mistakes of these platforms, perhaps we will see a shift to decentralized platforms in the not too distant future.

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