Why the timing is perfect for the next large scale Social Media platform
Advancing tech is leaving previous mainstream socials behind
There have been large advances in technology and key learning points to take since the rise in popularity of social media in the last 10–15 years. The large companies that scaled in this Web 2.0 era profited on the vast increase in internet users and its accessibility. People sacrificed privacy for the convenience of these services; whether they knew it or not. The mass stockpiling of data in centralized servers began, with Facebook and Twitter the biggest custodians and profitability their chief concern.
While Web 2.0 created new opportunities with faster, more reliable, and feature-rich services, the economic engine is largely privatised and monopolised. The next generation of the internet is the antithesis of this. It’s about multiple profit centers sharing value across an open network. The primary purpose of the Web 3.0 movement isn’t focused on expanding the functionality of the internet, it is focused on restructuring the way in which the internet is accessed and interacted with, developing a more human-centred internet.
The vision of a fairer and more transparent web dates back many years. Decentralisation was the idea, now Blockchain has given us the means. As this technology continues to develop and see its potential realised, previous centralised superpowers will see their user base wane as alternative options arise which put control and rewards back in the hands of the user.
Unfortunately, sometimes scaled networks can be impossible to change. When a certain platform design, architecture, culture or governance is already live and scaled, it cannot be changed and it can become outdated. We’re seeing some examples of this across mainstream socials now.
Existing mainstream socials trying to pivot
Facebook has suffered quite a devastating loss of reputation in recent years to its social platform. It has lost the trust and affection of its former audience and it has not been able to capture the younger audience. It is in danger of becoming outdated like Bebo and MySpace. Its recent rebrand to Meta, depicting them as a metaverse-first company is a clear attempt to reinvent itself to capture a new audience again.
The metaverse concept is one which has proliferated thanks to blockchain technology. The main attraction is a decentralised landscape where digital property and identity can be portably moved across networks. The use of cryptocurrencies is considered to be a major advantage to these environments. That’s because metaverses allow users to buy and sell virtual lands, avatars and even buildings directly. Facebook has tried its hand with Libra and more recently Novi crypto, although it is yet to be seen whether these find fairer use in empowering the user. Several blockchain projects are attempting to champion the transition to the metaverse, including Axie Infinity, Decentraland, and Enjin Coin.
Metaverse has now become a catch-all phrase for businesses looking to bridge virtual and physical worlds. Facebook’s centralised profit-led model makes it difficult to see how their product can offer better value to the user than other leading projects. It is certain that they’ve brought the attention of the world closer to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies within social landscapes.
In 2019, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey began his BlueSky team to work on decentralised social media standards. Dorsey has spoken in favour of decentralized protocols and has committed resources trying to get there (as proven by his work at Square). This move towardws open protocol acceptance has been applauded by advocates and thought leaders of Web 3.0 such as Vitalik Buterin, Fred Wilson and Brian Armstrong.
Dorsey has highlighted the flaws of centralised social media but finds himself in a predicament if trying to pivot from the governance model Twitter currently has. Surrendering centralized control of Twitter to a more decentralized protocol would hugely impact its current monetization strategy. It seems very unlikely to happen. Unlike a decentralized protocol, Twitter’s shareholders are not its contributors. They are simply investors in a company that monetizes user data via targeted ads. Twitter took their capital and has an obligation to deliver return on investment.
While well positioned to launch a successful decentralised social media protocol, it would certainly significantly hamper Twitter financially to do so. The key to Bluesky’s success will be in hijacking the network effects and marketing of its parent company Twitter. You can’t have it both ways though!
Anti-Big Tech Sentiment
Facebook continues to fight an anti-trust lawsuit in the US. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 46 states sued Facebook, accusing the firm of buying up competitors — chiefly WhatsApp and Instagram — to liquidate competition in the social media industry.
The concern here, shared by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, is that Facebook commands more than 80% of the world’s social networking revenue. It is a powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of its rivals and erasing competition from the social networking category.
The call is for the government to enforce antitrust laws to regulate tech companies, protect privacy and promote competition and innovation in the tech sector. US senator Elizabeth Warren is someone who has embraced this vision and has made the break-up of big tech central to her presidential campaign. This is a growing consensus and the past example of the break-up of AT&T’s telephone monopoly suggests the potential benefits of this.
Demand for verification and improved safety online
An online petition in the UK, led by celebrity Katie Price, calling for government-led policy change to enforce social media sites to ban anonymous users secured almost 700,000 signatures. This included the support of numerous very high-profile celebrities, sports stars and public figures.
Governments are now trying to impose more legislation to improve safety on current social media platforms. The UKs draft Online Safety Bill intends to put the responsibility on the platforms to improve online safety. Under the draft proposal, the regulator Ofcom would have the power to levy fines of up to £18m or 10% of global profits, whichever is higher, on social media platforms which fail to comply with the new laws.
It is likely that many other governments could follow suit and wind-up pressure on current platforms to do more. However, the structures of current platforms may make it very difficult to retrospectively comply with these demands.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency
2021 has been blockchain’s record funding year, up 384% vs 2020, reaching over $15B by end of Q3 — shattering the previous record ($4.5B) set in 2018. This is being driven by the rising consumer and institutional demand for cryptocurrencies. Both groups are slowly starting to move the needle to help crypto and, therefore, blockchain become more mainstream.
There has been a Cambrian-like explosion of blockchain applications outside of crypto and financial services. These include gaming platforms and token-based economies, data management and storage for media and entertainment, and marketplaces for digital collectibles and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). There is certainly an opportunity for a social media based platform which utilises this technology to tip the scales in favour of the consumer.
Blockchain-based games which allow users to earn financial rewards and buy and sell digital in-game assets in a peer-to-peer manner have taken a significant rise in uptake in 2021. In Q3 2021 games have been the driving force behind the 25% growth quarter-over-quarter for the blockchain industry. Axie Infinity on the Ronin sidechain, CryptoBlades on Binance Smart Chain, and Alien Worlds on the Wax blockchain are among the most prominent titles.
Taking Axie Infinity as an example, while their game is less refined or developed as many mainstream games, the opportunity to earn money through gaming has seen a 4768% increase in users since April — currently with >1.85m daily users. Current trends suggest this space is bound for hyperbolic growth. Play-to-earn gaming and its economies will not only dominate the metaverse, but will also strongly impact our physical world.
Sales volumes of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) surged to $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021, up more than eightfold from the previous quarter. NFTs use blockchain to record the ownership of digital items such as images, videos, collectibles and even land in virtual worlds. The value of digital assets is being increasingly recognised. While collectibles and art lead the sales, gaming and metaverse-related NFTs have also surged, with the aforementioned Axie Infinity leading the “play-to-earn” sector with $776 million in Q3 revenues.
Crypto market cap
Although the cryptocurrency market cap is extremely volatile, as displayed by the dramatic dip between May and June 2021, it has recovered to all time high levels again. From November 2020 to November 2021, the total global cryptocurrency market cap has gone from 500 billion to 2.7 trillion.
With increased investment and increased adoption of cryptocurrency, this trend is set to continue to snowball as blockchain projects and Web 3.0 technology continues to advance and become more widespread.
The new era of Social Media?
Waivlength development continues with the view to lead the way towards a new brighter age of social media. A platform which puts the user first — providing large financial rewards for its users, better privacy and user-control, improved safety and quality of content and a more autonomous community and platform.
The key to success here is to ensure that although the backend of these platforms are different with blockchain, the front end and user interface will be familiar and intuitive. It won’t be long before crypto wallets are mainstream and any stigma against tokens/cryptocurrencies are overcome as mass adoption of breakthrough technology goes mainstream.
While Waivlength developers and advisors continue to work hard over the months ahead on platform build and securing external investment, it is clear that this platform has the potential to make a huge global impact as a competitor to current mainstream social media. Learn more at www.waivlength.io where you can find a more detailed whitepaper and roadmap for the development of the platform along with contact details for the team.
There is an incoming series of articles providing more detail on how Waivlength is seeking to revolutionise the social media space. Be sure to follow so you don’t miss out.
As always, the fantastic work of others must be acknowledged for the inspiration they’ve provided. Big thanks must go to Alex Kantrowitz (Twitter — @kantrowitz) whose work has always been a very informative source of information for our articles and research. Also, a special word of thanks for Nir Kabessa (Twitter — @nir_III) whose content and ideas within the Web 3.0 space and written articles are also a great source of inspiration. Your continued work to improve the future of the Social Media landscape is admirable.