If we agree that information is a new oil, then Facebook now looks like an oil company after an oil spill directly into the ocean. Although we still use Facebook, almost all of us consider this social network to be the main platform for spreading fake news, in which there are too many advertisements and too many bans for any, often unrelated to reality, sin. The main problem is that users of Western countries are already accustomed to logging into almost all vital applications via Facebook, and disconnecting from it leads to the fact that neither listen to music nor search for work, and often do not sign up for a doctor.
Social networks are so popular because they satisfy our basic needs, namely the need to belong to a group and the need for socialization. Unfortunately, many users rightly believe that large social networks have become tools of espionage for us, as well as a place where we are fed with useless and overly obtrusive advertising.
As a result, some of the more active users began to look for alternative networks where their privacy rights are respected. For many, decentralized networks are the answer.
Such networks operate on a large number of independent servers (node architecture) as opposed to centralized, in which data is stored in giant data centers.
Most importantly, decentralized networks belong not to large transnational corporations, as centralized, but to online communities of users. Very often, even the program code is in the possession and supported by such communities. In other words, the code of many decentralized social networks lies in the public domain and is accessible to everyone, often not only for viewing, but also for additions and optimization.
Another distinctive, however, and rather controversial feature of decentralized social networks is the refusal to verify the identity of the user. Often, decentralized social networks go even further, they refuse to associate a mobile phone with user registration, and also allow the use of pseudonyms.
But the really important difference between decentralized and centralized networks is who owns the user data. Decentralized networks declare that in them the user data belongs to the users themselves. We say such social networks, you decide to whom and when you show updates of your status, we don’t use your likes to advertise products to your friends, we don’t send your photos to advertise goods and services that you are trying to sell to you later, and most importantly, we do not sell your user data to advertisers and political technologists. You own your content and no one else.
Very often there is no advertising at all in decentralized networks. They exist either through direct donations, or through user payments for certain additional services. If there is advertising, then decentralized social networks implement algorithms for the distribution of a portion of advertising revenue to users, and also part of the money from commercial partnerships goes to users.
Often, such social networks of a new type generally reject the concept of “friends” or “followers”. Instead, in the formation of the information tape, algorithms of artificial intelligence and user reactions to previously distributed information are used. Thus, a decentralized social network ensures the quality of the information provided to the user and ensures that this information reaches the target audience. Often, classic cryptographic tools, public and private keys are used to ensure the security of users and the confidentiality of the information disseminated.
From this moment on we will move on to why users do not run in crowds from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter into decentralized social networks.
The reality is that most users find it inconvenient, confusing and difficult to use cryptographic tools. Also, most ordinary users, that is, us, do not want to give their own computer, even partially, under the web server of the node of the decentralized social network. In addition, the interface of decentralized social networks is not so simple, not as convenient as their centralized “older brothers”, which exist longer and can hire the best designers in the world.
However, many are moving to decentralized networks. The author of these lines has been using the Sola network for a couple of years, but he hasn’t been out of Facebook, Twitter, instagram, telegram and linkedin.
At the beginning of 2019 among the largest decentralized social networks Diaspora, Minds, Mastodon, Sola, Memo, Steemit. The largest audience so far does not exceed 10 million people, but it is growing, and as we know, in the world of social networks, things can change pretty quickly.