Decentralised social media platforms are fast becoming a viable alternative to large platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Here’s some platforms you can hop onto.
One of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, recently acquired social media platform Twitter to the tune of USD$44 billion (SGD $61 billion). And in true Musk style, he started his acquisition of the company by engaging in heated words with employees of the company over the internet.
More importantly, what are the potential consequences when one of the richest people on Earth can buy one of the most utilised social media platforms without putting much thought into it? Centralised social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are notorious for the amount of data they collect on their users. If you couple that with the almost unlimited resources that Elon has, it doesn’t bode well for social media users when such power is placed in the hands of a few.
That being said, social media is essential for communicating with others in this digital age. What can you do as a user? That’s where decentralised social media platforms come in.
What are Decentralised Social Media Platforms?
Decentralised Social Media are essentially platforms built on the blockchain. Similar to how blockchains work, they store information in a decentralised manner without any central data storage.
Why choose these platforms over conventional social media platforms? Owning your data is one great reason. With their peer-to-peer nature and absence of third-parties, users can control who views or has access to their data unlike conventional platforms. Plus, data is cryptographically encrypted which boosts the security of one’s private info.
With that said, what are some decentralised social platforms you can tap into?
If you are hopping off Twitter but can’t live without the bite-sized text format, then Mastodon should be your first stop on the list of decentralised social media platforms. This free, open-source platform allows you to post videos, images, messages, or update your profile just like on Twitter.
Due to its decentralised nature, users don’t create a profile on a single site like they do with Twitter. New profiles or communities are called ‘Instances’, and they can set their community with their own rules. Users can then hop onto different instances and interact with them like a standard social group.
What we like about this social media platform is its own anti-abuse tools to protect yourself even without a centralised authority, and its visibility settings gives you control over which posts can or cannot be seen.
While Youtube is a fun way to pass time with excellent video content, the platform has seen its fair share of complaints from content creators who have been striked down by the algorithm, or from users who have been unsubscribed from their favourite creators at random.
Cue PeerTube, a decentralised alternative to the popular video site. Developed by Framasoft, this free platform aims to place the control of content back into the hands of the creators. Similar to Mastodon, users can create a PeerTube server called an Instance which hosts their own created content.
Wait! If PeerTube is decentralised, does that mean that it will take a longer time to load a video? Not really, the platform uses a peer-to-peer protocol to broadcast videos. This means when a large number of users are watching the video at the same time, the processing load is split among the users which in turn optimises the video load.
Similar to Instagram, PixelFed allows you to share images on a feed with other. This open-source platform allows you to create an account and lets you start posting images within minutes of registration.
Having created an account myself, I was surprised by the ease of use and the excellent user interface of the platform. While there isn’t a mobile app for PixelFed yet, the web interface on an online browser works fine if you are looking to upload images through your mobile. Instagram users, you definitely need to check this platform out.
Facebook. You may love it or hate it, but it’s undoubtedly the social media platform that kickstarted the plethora of social media platforms we know and love today (sorry MySpace, but that’s a fact). While its not as popular amongst the younger users today, Facebook is undoubtedly here to stay for a long while.
Is there an alternative to the platform? Yes, and that’s Diaspora, a non-profit distributed social network. Written as diaspora* with an asterisk, also connect users together while emphasising on decentralisation, freedom, and privacy.
The user interface isn’t a carbon copy of Facebook, but users trying out Diaspora would feel right at home with its function. You can see posts which you are mentioned in, follow tags relevant to your interest, or set up postings easily.
Just like other decentralised social media platforms, users can create their own instances or ‘pods’ as Diaspora calls them, or join an existing pod hosted by others. These serve as the network’s nodes that props the entire platform up. With regards to its security, users can also report malignant behaviour on the platform to ensure the security and safety of other users.
An alternative to Facebook? Yes please. With data privacy being a major concern, Diaspora is turning out to be the better choice between the two.
If you are looking for a lo-fi playlist or browsing for a new song to bop to, skip the Spotify app and try heading to Audius instead. The decentralised music streaming is powered by the blockchain, and the platform comes with social media features as well.
Created as a solution to mainstream music platforms that diminishes the role of the music creator, Audius aims to give control back to musicians by letting them determine how to monetise their content while connecting directly with their fans.
Far from being a small-time music social media platform, Audius has seen a number of big-name players like Skrillex, Weezer, deadmau5, Diplo and Odesza hopping onto the platforms. The best part? Users can use the platform for free instead of having to pay a premium before having access to artistes on Audius.
Will Audius replace Spotify? With its meteoric rise, it certainly seems so.
Exploring new social media platforms to post or share content is always an amazing experience. But with the rise of Web3 and data privacy concerns, the future of decentralised social media may come soon than you think.
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