Whose data is it? Social media and blockchain
“Decentralization is a solution, but only if we can handle certain risks reasonably.”
In the case of cryptocurrency, the data is clear and fully transparent. Until that point when we start to transfer money, no questions emerge regarding the offense of anyone’s rights. Regardless of this, cryptocurrency is still being criticized today because digital coins are being used for money laundering and other illegal activities. This might be right but the problem is not about the data stored on the blockchain, but about the uncontrollable money transfers.
Recently more and more projects deal with the question of decentralized social media. There are several different solutions. Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, and Medium also have their decentralized finance promises. What kind of criteria should be expected from a decentralized data storing method? All personal data, which can harm the interests of others, could harm the system. The advantage of blockchain is transparency, but the data transit in a decentralized system can cause problems. The question is that who has the right to decide whether data is valid, abusive, public, etc. Already for Facebook, it is quite a challenge to decide what content harms the community. There is so much more subjectivity in this question than to answer it with one single response.
Facebook was criticized for admitting campaigns hating on and other illegal activities. Facebook naturally pleads that it does everything in order to prevent the network from becoming the tool for any kind of illegal or manipulating activity. Well, it is enough to take a look at the number of abuses during the election of 2016, or even the charges of use of Facebook for civil disturbance. There are numerous cases and there is still no comforting response. After this, let us just imagine a platform that is decentralized and where anybody can share anything without any consequences. This model is not lifelike, and so when we think about the future’s decentralized media we have to take into consideration all the hindrances and not put all emphasis on transparency and freedom.
When we are talking about the decentralized system, the real problem of blockchain is the absence of control. Presently anyone can develop applications, you can create smart contracts and DApps on Ethereum, Cardano, Waves, ILCOIN, and on all such systems which are available for the developers. We all know that there are countless abuses against cryptocurrencies and most of these abuses have no consequences. So the malicious hacker groups are basically free to operate.
Now let’s just imagine a system where not only cryptocurrency and personal data are being traded on the blockchain but also personal data. The value of data cannot be measured only in monetary terms. This is why I think that the prime challenge for the decentralized data storing is security. The goal is to create such a decentralized system where the access, the possibility of abuses, and a lot more other aspects are being realized for the good of the users and not against them. No project has a ready answer for this challenge.
Such a system could only work if the running of the nods could happen on a consensual basis and the data access operates in a diversified way. Otherwise, the transparency requests that the access should be made by a real and existing person. The latter is the biggest challenge. There is no existing solution yet. How can we prevent the creation of fake accounts? Anyone can make fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram which became one of the favorite platforms of fraudsters. What can be done on a decentralized basis? Is that a really good idea to create a decentralized social site or is it more important to create such a blockchain system which prevents the creation of fake accounts?
Let’s just imagine an application which guarantees the user that we are getting into connection with, is in relays the user we wish to connect. I have personal examples regarding Telegram requests, where fake LinkedIn accounts were used to provide credibility, and when I asked for a video call the answer was that there had not been time for that. Of course, because a video call cannot be faked yet, but soon it will be and then the problem will be even bigger than it is today. In one word it is necessary to have a solution which provides the security of the identity of the user. There is no better solution than blockchain.
A system which handles together all our social media sites, our email addresses, and even our official personal data, could be a great help for preventing malicious abuses. If I take a look at an account I could be able to see whether it is a real person’s account or not. Such a system could provide a possibility for the user to decide what to share and with whom he wants to share it. It could provide a possibility to be able to ascertain the validity of the content shared with us.
So the goal is not to create control-free social media sites, but rather to be able to follow the user’s activities on a blockchain. Doing this with a system that provides the prevention of creating fake accounts and the prevention of data abuses which deceives, misguide, and manipulates millions of people every day.