Ilhan Yavuz Ataol, Queen Mary University of London
Due to the massive developments in technology, digital platforms including media sharing platforms, knowledge platforms, and service-oriented platforms have become an essential part of our life. In addition to those platforms, social media is unarguably the foremost important digital platform for many people. Its addictive nature is what makes it unreplaceable in our lives.
Therefore, the 7-hour outage of Facebook and its other family social media platforms Whatsapp and Instagram on Monday caused a big reaction across the world (Walters). The outage had an enormous impact on the stock prices of Facebook, and Bitcoin. As the Facebook stocks fell drastically, Bitcoin prices started to reach over 50K USD, surpassing Facebook’s market cap valuation (Wright).
Although many users were afraid of losing their accounts, other users were scared of losing their personal data to hackers. This concern once again resulted in discussions regarding the safety of Facebook and other social media platforms. The discussions enabled some users to realise the need for safer social media platforms where their data can be more secure. As a result, this main question was raised: Can blockchain technology be used to develop new social media platforms?
Overview of Blockchain
In simple terms, blockchain is a technology that records information in a specific way, which allows it to be untraceable. By definition, blockchain acts as a digital ledger of transactions, which are then duplicated and distributed over the entire blockchain system. It is a type of distributed ledger technology, and it uses cryptographic signatures called hashes to record the transactions (What Is blockchain).
Blockchain is the main technology used in cryptocurrency. This technology is programmable, secure, and immutable. Hence, it provides greater trust, security, and promotes efficiency, especially for businesses. As the popularity of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum has increased, blockchain technology has started to be implemented in many other areas.
What are the benefits of blockchain for social media?
The main and most crucial benefit of blockchain technology is its decentralised nature. Therefore, end-to-end encryptions could be used for every interaction over social media, enabling users to have more privacy, and control over their private data.
This technology could also highly improve the freedom of expression since the information sent cannot be tracked. Although this could result in serious problems when used with malicious intentions, it could allow social media users to feel safer about their information. Given that Facebook’s owner Mark Zuckerberg already has a history of not being able to keep Facebook users’ data secure, users could consider using the new generation of decentralised social media platforms, such as Signal, Minds, or Aether (Sharma).
In conclusion, the outage of Facebook and its family apps made its users question the safety of their personal data. Therefore, some users started to value blockchain-based and encrypted social media platforms. Blockchain technology has already fascinated the world with cryptocurrencies, but the question is: Can it now change the traditional social media and popularise the new generation of decentralised social media?
Sharma, Toshendra Kumar. “Blockchain: A New Generation of Decentralized Social Media Platforms.” Blockchain Certifications, 29 July 2021, https://www.blockchain-council.org/blockchain/blockchain-a-new-generation-of-decentralized-social-media-platforms/.
Walters, Jack. “Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram up and Running for Many after 7-Hour Shutdown.” Express.co.uk, Express.co.uk, 5 Oct. 2021, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1500987/Facebook-WhatsApp-and-Instagram-up-and-running-for-many-after-7-hour-shutdown.
“What Is Blockchain?” Blockchain Explained: What Is Blockchain? | Euromoney Learning, https://www.euromoney.com/learning/blockchain-explained/what-is-blockchain.
Wright, Turner. “Bitcoin Moves Past $49k as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp Go Down.” Cointelegraph, Cointelegraph, 4 Oct. 2021, https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-moves-past-48k-as-facebook-instagram-and-whatsapp-go-down.