The rise of decentralized social media?

in #hive2 years ago

Decentralization has been what brought me into the crypto space, and what immediately drew me to and kept me with Hive for nearly 5 years now. In "the early days" even dreamt up a way for the blockchain to serve as base layer for decentralized scientific publishing. Unfortunately, that didn't find traction in the scientific community, but the idea is still valid and could be picked up on any time.

These days, a lot of social media users finally realize the consequences of having all their data/life/work dependend on a single centralized actor. A lot of discussions spin up, and many are asking where the decentralized alternatives are.

I see a few people spreading the word on twitter, but as I see it these attempts are mostly regarded as spam by the potential recipients. Or at least I can't explain why not more people look into it.

A few days ago there was a tweet by Larry Sanger pointing to a blog post about what decentraliziation really requires. And as some users have pointed out, hive checks all the points. This post is going to show how, and once and for all prove the decentralization of this platform.


Let's dive in.

According to Larry,

Here are the principles that “decentralization” encodes:

i. Self-ownership. Each user owns his own identity in the network.
Only the user has the keys to transact on the chain using his identity. There may be platforms that manage the keys for a new user and only provide a password, but there's always the option to "upgrade" by changing the keys.

ii. Data ownership. You own your own data; you control your own data, within the bounds of controlling law.
As nobody can transact using your identity, you have full control over what you send to be stored and what not. Everything is permanent, there is no way for anyone to remove data.

iii. Platform-independent following. You control your friend/follower list independently of all platforms. Hence, once a friend follows you on one platform, he should follow you forever everywhere until he unfollows you or you block him (or there is a lawful government order compelling a change).
The blockchain as the underlaying base platform stores follows, all interfaces share that data

iv. Platform-agnostic posting. Posting on one platform means posting the same thing on all platforms that are part of one big decentralized network.
See iii.

v. Decentralized moderation. Content moderation, which is ultimately an absolute requirement, cannot be performed by a single, central, controlling body or system, providing identical outcomes. So it, too, must be decentralized.
There are two levels of moderation:

  • The owners of a hive community can provide moderators with the ability can flag content as deleted
  • An interface has to manage a blacklist to at least hide illegal content

vi. Single conversation. Therefore, there is one giant integrated conversation, but parts of are not shown to people who don’t want to see it (or in places it’s literally illegal). Of course, it is still legal for people to run closed, walled gardens; but they’re not for general broadcast.

vii. Anti-monopoly. Therefore, also, no corporation has anything like a monopoly over the means of social media broadcasting, as at present.
No corporations at all involved (yet). Small groups running their own interface platforms, and a committed community of developers headed by a private crypto-development company to work on the backend and nodes.

He goes on with

several requirements that, I believe, are absolutely required of the alternative social media platforms to satisfy these principles:

These are user and data exportability, interoperability and data inalienability. The first three are given through the hived api. It's become really cheap to set up your own node, and there are more public ones available than ever.
Inalienability is a base feature of blockchains, once something is written on chain there's no taking back as many have learned the hard way ;-)

And he ends with

There are other things that really also need to be part of it, I suspect:

Moderation. Individual users, or whole platforms (if users should wish to use them), should be able to select their own moderators. Moderation data, or metadata—such as that a certain user should be blocked, or that a certain post should be hidden or flagged in some way—should be shared in a way similar to how the user data and content itself is served (so, across the network in a decentralized way), and independently of the user’s canonical copy of the data.

As described earlier, each user created community can define its own moderators. Those flag content, which makes the api nodes not deliver the post on requests (but the data is still there, and a custom node could very well override these flags)

Text representation. The user’s public data must be syndicated in a lo-tech text-based (more human-friendly) format such as JSON or XML, even if they have an API (maybe I don’t want to be forced to use their API, maybe because it’s too restrictive). The purpose of this is to enable the user to more easily exert control over the source or original version of his own tweets. This text stream, if it still exists and the author’s control can be proven, becomes the user’s personal assertion or attestation as to how the state of his personal feed should be represented; this human-friendly data representation of the content becomes the controlling, “canonical” version of the data. No other representation, in no other data medium (blockchain, IPFS, bittorrent, or otherwise), is to be regarded legally or operationally as “the canonical version.”

Well, of course the data on the blockchain is the canonical version. API calls to hived nodes, which can be run by everyone, return JSON. The data is also saved in a postgresql database for queries that aren't supported by the API.

Permanence (or uncensorability). By network policy, the user’s public data must also be able to be made available forever (so a particular platform couldn’t delete it on behalf of everyone else, even if they wanted to) via bittorrent or IPFS or the like. Maybe the blockchain is OK, but frankly due to the financial complexities involved in blockchain, I don’t trust blockchains as bittorrent-type “decentralized public cloud” storage.

I can't really argue against a lack of trust. The chain running for 5 years, and the community splitting away from centralization attempts about a year ago show that there's no reason to doubt the viability of the concept. And financials don't really matter as the ever-falling price has proven. Not everyone is in here for the money.

So, let's get a discussion going. Larry concludes that his list isn't final, what would you add, and is it covered by hive?
Of course Larry is warmly invited to sign up and join the discussion. Don't let the bad image of blockchains make you ignore the possibilities!


I see a few people spreading the word on twitter, but as I see it these attempts are mostly regarded as spam by the potential recipients. Or at least I can't explain why not more people look into it.

i can't understand that. it could be that people just scream about it but don't really care.

When you make a list of requirements, 5-6 different people go through your list and answer all the questions and you ignore it all and make an account on something that claims to be a blockchain, has a management structure, stores it's data on Amazon and it it's TOS has an "Minds reserves the right to reclaim any username that has not been active for one year or longer, violates any terms or conditions..."

he asks for decentralization and then makes an account on a platform that has in it's TOS that it can reclaim your account! It would be funny if it was not sad...



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I would perhaps add (perhaps I missed it) the low barrier for being able to build an interface that connects to the blockchain.

And because all the data is there and people own their accounts, a new interface can import all past data including follower base in without skipping a beat. This means that users who do build a following aren't held to ransom over their follower base, as they are portable. I think this is important, as it takes away a lot of the risk of being demonetized by being cut off from supporters, therefore allowing an account to speak more freely.

Larry Sanger looks like learning about what decentralization means as he goes, I don't think he understands any of it and few people already replied, from much technical to high-level, he is just using situation to gain attention at this point, imo if he didn't signup or give any feedback. @geekgirl, @good-karma and number of others wrote on this topic, let's see

I agree and the point web 2.0 gets hacked many times in the past, we see it's not secure.

It needs a solution to trust the person that post, is the person that your believe it is.

In times of deepfake videos and fake news, it's not a question, that's needed.

Classic social media will bring democracy to collapse at some point.

I always think about " what if when Donald Trump's ( or others) Twitter account gets hacked and start a war". Sounds stupid? But is it really impossible?

To be real, politicians that use those platforms that much, bring demography in a really dangerous position.

Same with delete posts doesn't matter how post it. It needs to be free and people
need the chance to talk about it.

Hive is decentralized and it will become stronger every day. Like on early social media days. People don't want to use it. At some point, they have to use it :)

Overall I agree with you. Let's build the future of free speech and freedom.

A rare post!

I like decentralization, as you know very well. But I do like them with governance. And therefore the rub. Over the last 3 years I have struggled with this concept.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who will guard the guardians?

So I tried that in my flawed aways, I have no idea on the result. I did what it felt right to me and something I thought I can scientifically defend on the chain.

A good friend of mine (our common friend) taught me not to look too much into the abyss:

And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

And I take that into my heart.

To me blockchain governance must be human. I personally seek a balance between the two opposing forces.

I would like to see more scientific/professional papers on Hive. 2020 has shown the world that if you are a scientist, a doctor or a professional in any field then if you wish to remain relevant in your chosen field and become published and reviewed by your peers, then you must follow the media narrative.

I have seen this a lot over the last 20 years, scientist banned blocked and job opportunities lost due to censor for not following the narrative. Climate Change, Scientist who put out any information no matter how small were ridiculed by the media for being out of touch or climate deniers. We have seen the same issue with Medical Field doctors and researchers in 2020.

Hive block chain can solve this with it communities, and can solve a lot of other social media ills as well.

Wikipedia will become outdated if it does not embrace blockchain / web3 technology.


Looks like the discussion is going to be w/o Larry Sanger a.k.a. w/o central actors. So please stay calm and nice if he's not following your invitation. 😎 !ENGAGE 20 !WINE

See @vimukthi's post I cross-posted into a decentral forum. Certainly one of many I suppose. (sic!)

It's a lot to take in and learn around hive, and the amount of shilling he receives on his twitter doesn't make it easier to focus I assume. So I hope he reads this and might engage in a serious discussion about the facts. Because I feel a lot is about terms - in one tweet he asked for a protocol, but what else is hive? A protocol for decentralized storage...

He may be too annoyed about the topic by now, but I don't give my hopes up ;)



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Muy interesante y explicito lo que has publicado, gracias por compartir.

I second @urun’s point

Hive is decentralized and it will become stronger every day. Like on early social media days. People don't want to use it. At some point, they have to use it

What's good champ. Twitter "spammer" here. I have to admit that I've been just a bit agressive when it comes to marketing #hive, prolly close to the border between spammy and not spammy. I'm trying to not over don it, yes is a little hard from a passionate user's experience to not promote #hive especially when it it serves as a main source of income for many third world country users.

We are far from perfect, still, community wise ,I have to say that we are very united despite our imperfections. I would like to see some changes in the proposal system and be more local in that regard without being being exclusive. Hopefully we're going to figure it out as we did when we forked; That was a huge victory and one that may dismantle any claims about governance in the chain. Best Regards.

tried to talk to him but obviously, he is in the moldbug camp. Having something like Urbit, or a secure scuttlebutt gives you the decentralization he asks for. What he does not get is the nature of social-media, it is not a patchwork- localists thing but a giant melting pod of ideas, voices and with it, there comes hierarchy and ranking. Socialmedia aka public-cyberspace is by definition not decentralized.

The problem of censorship is merely a problem of having no platform-grade-censorship resistance. What Larry talks about is sovereign-grade-censorship-resistance. Two different things. Hive solves the first one, solution found. Technical decentralization on the consensus layer is again a completely different thing.


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Hi @pharesim… I have chosen your post on “-The rise of decentralized social media? -” for my daily reblogging initiative…
Let's keep working and supporting each other to grow at Hive!...
Thanks for the support in my Happy Day post.

Are you still running Hiveinvite? I am getting this message when I try to claim an invite.


Oh, sorry for the late reply! I'll have around the end of the week!

thank you good sir

Hey there @pharesim
ILIyan here.
I’ve been working on spreading awareness about hive in my country Bulgaria, I’ve also managed to bring some new investments to the table.
I’ll be very grateful if you have some time to spare into looking at my proposal I’ve explaind the details in it.

Thanks in advance!

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