Elon Musk’s messy takeover of Twitter and the broader backlash against Facebook and other platforms has opened the door to much-needed innovation in social media. Blockchains, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge technologies are helping solve some of Web 2.0’s most pressing problems and could revolutionize the industry.
Below, we discuss the decentralization and democratization of social media and how artificial intelligence could play a role in moderating and improving messy social networks.
Web 1.0, the Internet’s original incarnation, was a decentralized structure of independent servers. Although no single entity controlled the network, running a server demanded a level of technical expertise that limited its usability for the average person. As a result, it was primarily a read-only ecosystem with a handful of content generators.
Social media platforms revolutionized this paradigm, creating an environment encouraging users to develop and disseminate their own content in real-time. Unfortunately, the content creation happened in walled gardens, each with its own rules. Over time, they became the breeding ground for numerous issues.
In response to these problems, a new generation of Web3 decentralized platforms, such as Mastodon, Pixelfed, Minds, and Aether, emerged. Unlike their centralized counterparts, these decentralized platforms operate on community-run servers, enabling community members to set rules and administer how they see fit.
While these platforms have yet to experience the adoption rates many hoped at the onset, they continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible from a technical standpoint. They could continue to capture market share over time, especially if centralized platforms continue to follow their troubled trajectories.
A second major drawback of Web 2.0’s walled gardens is users’ difficulty when migrating from one platform to another. Simple tasks like transferring photos, friends lists, and other personal data can become arduous; sometimes, it’s impossible. Content creators must tie their fate to a single centralized business to reach their fans.
The crypto ecosystem offers an elegant solution to these challenges through decentralized identities. Users can create an identity on the blockchain rather than signing up on a centralized platform and sharing it with multiple third-party platforms. These dynamics put users in control of their data and influencers in control over their content.
For example, Lens Protocol empowers users to create permissionless, non-custodial social media profiles. By minting a profile on the blockchain, they can easily migrate between compatible platforms and take their data and followers with them. And they have more leverage when negotiating with these platforms to access their content and followers.
Social decentralized identities could also play a role outside of social media platforms. For instance, a hiring platform could use the same tokens to validate employment references or identify job candidates without exposing personal information. Or, a bank could use them to verify a connection before issuing a loan.
AI Mixed Influence
Artificial intelligence promises to have a mixed influence on social media over the coming years. On the one hand, deep fakes could amplify social media’s problems with misinformation by creating convincing fake photos and videos. But on the other hand, the same technology could revolutionize content moderation and fraud detection.
Large-language models, or LLMs, are increasingly adept at understanding and speaking human languages. For example, ChatGPT and other chatbots have become so advanced that many people have difficulty determining if they’re talking to another human or a computer at the other end of the screen – a potential goldmine for spammers.
However, these technologies are also improving at detecting the subtleties of human language and interactions. For instance, GPT-4 is considerably better at understanding jokes than GPT-3. And as these capabilities improve, AI could improve content moderation, helping detect hateful or dangerous speech.
AI could also help prevent identity theft and other forms of fraud by detecting them more quickly. For instance, social media networks could leverage AI algorithms to automatically flag accounts designed to impersonate a famous person or follow links and assess websites to determine if they’re phishing attempts.
The decentralization of social media and AI-powered moderation could help enhance the Web 2.0 landscape, but it’s only part of the upheaval ushering in Web3. Crypto concepts and metaverse technologies could further redefine today’s social media and create a much more equitable and dynamic ecosystem for people to communicate.
Imagine a decentralized social media network like Mastodon or Pixelfed, but managed by a decentralized autonomous organization (DOA). You join the platform by minting an NFT that you can use to validate your identity on the platform and on different supported platforms. On the platform, creators leverage generative AI to create unique content and earn native crypto tokens from their subscribers. And AI could help detect potential fraud and scams to keep everyone objectively safer without relying on a centralized authority.
Generative AI and emerging headset technologies could also make social media more immersive. While the launch of Apple’s headsets sparked a lot of excitement, new generative AI models can generate entire 3D scenes or avatars in real time while making it easier for content creators to bring their imaginations to life. For example, imagine describing a scene with text and having AI generate an immersive world that you can walk around in with friends, or using text to create and edit a new concept.
Ultimately, the combination of social media, AI, and crypto could revolutionize the way we communicate and interact online while democratizing the ownership and management of those interactions – putting control back in the hands of users.
The Bottom Line
The combination of blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and decentralized social media platforms could significantly alter the digital landscape, propelling us from the limitation of Web 2.0 to the expansive possibilities of Web3. The result could be a more equitable and user-controlled digital experience with better-aligned incentives.
The future of social media is not just about communication – it’s about creating a more immersive, inclusive, and personalized web experience that empowers users and safeguards their digital rights. These technologies are central to realizing these goals and redefining how we interact with the digital world and others.
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The above is for general info purposes only and should not be interpreted as professional advice. Please seek independent legal, financial, tax, or other advice specific to your particular situation.