Social media has always been viewed as an “open space” for communications and idea sharing. However, the latest hearings about the Cambridge Analytica wrongdoings might have been rather eye-opening. First, they have showed just how easy it is to manipulate people’s opinion on an enormous scale online. Next, it had proved that how little power we (the users) have over our personal information stored and operationalized by all the social media networks.

What’s more curious though is that Mark Zuckerberg may not be actually that fond of holding such immense data about Facebook’s users. Earlier this year, he published a lengthy post on his intentions for upcoming year. Here is one of the statements made,

“Many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it. There are important counter-trends to this –like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands.”

It’s hardly an announcement, but it definitely appears to be a nod towards the potential benefits of using blockchain technologies in creating safer and more trustworthy social media spaces. And the opportunities for improvement are plentiful.

Blockchain Can Return Content Ownership Back to Users

It’s easy to see how a social network like Facebook makes money. Simply put, they sell advertising. Have you ever wondered how a social platform geared towards professionals makes a profit? In the case of LinkedIn, profitability comes from premium subscriptions, specialized services offered to recruiters and corporations, and online education.

Even though their profitability models are different, with Facebook and LinkedIn (along with most other social media platforms) the result is the same. Users provide lots of content and data and the centralized network profits from it.

The big questions, however, is that – why users are in no way benefiting from providing their personal data to advertisers? Well, Indorse plans to disrupt that at least in the career niche. Designed as professional network similar to LinkedIn, Indorse leverages blockchain to allow users to remain in control and profit from sharing their data and being active on the platform. Participants can claim accomplishments or skills that are then validated by other users of the platform. Once a claim is ‘indorsed’ the users platform score increases. Users also receive points for verifying claims. The scores are then used to purchase tokens known as IDS. The value of these are based upon advertising revenues for that quarter and users can choose to cash those out whenever they feel like to. So far the company was able to launch upon raising 9 million dollars by bringing on over 1800 contributors to their initial token sale.

How You Can Act Now

If you are content-centered business, you can benefit from the blockchain technology in a similar fashion. Online publishers relying on user-generated content (UGC) and contributed stories can reward the most active users with platform tokens as well (tied to advertising revenues). Online membership websites and online communities as well can implement a decentralized reward program to incentivize active participation and steer higher engagement.

The key here is to make sure that your community understands what is blockchain and how they can benefit from the newly introduced scheme. Assess your target audience awareness level first. The best way to do so is to poll both existing users and a broader demographics that you are also targeting. For the latter, check Survey Cool that lists fee-based focus group organizations that you could leverage. Finally, make the implementation gradual and do not force the new model on those users, who do not feel comfortable with participating.

Blockchain Technology Can Help Protect Content Ownership Rights

Currently, independent content creators and businesses actively publishing unique content are often at a disadvantage because they often don’t have the full control over their intellectual property. Around 30%-40% of the content value is lost to the cost of distribution through third-party fees. Also, once a small piece of content goes viral (e.g. a blog post), it can be difficult to ensure that the original author gets proper payment and credit if that piece is later re-published by larger online platforms.

Businesses across different niches often struggle with protecting their copyrighted materials online. There’s a fine line between creative inspiration and downright copycating. At present, this line is in the online space is rather diluted. While most social media platforms have specific clauses related to copyright ownership and protection, those are rarely enforced unless some party files a direct complaint and an investigation is launched.

Blockchain technology, specifically smart contracts, can help with this issue. A smart contract is an unhackable, public ledger that can contain all information related to a piece of content. By using it, everyone involved can be sure that they are properly compensated for their role in creating and distributing content. dotBC, for instance, is developing a blockchain-based solution that will allow artists to digitally inscribe their rights into their songs and control their further distribution.

How You Can Act Now

If you want to safeguard a certain piece of content you have created, you will need to claim your ownership on the blockchain. You can receive a blockchain based copyright certificate through Binded and use the service to further track the usage of your content online; monitor infringements and take respective action for the fraction of the costs associated with registering IP rights with a traditional authority.

Smart contracts can be also leveraged to automatically enforce licensing agreements for your content. You can code custom terms and make sure that those are carried out without involving any “middleman” service to brokerage your agreement.

Ultimately, social media platforms should also look into adopt similar mechanisms for registering and protecting content published by users. If that happens, all the infringement claims could be processed automatically in a matter of minutes, rather than months.

Blockchain Can Add Trust And Build Fairness Into Current Social Media Operational Models

Blockchain has a significant potential to help social media platforms improve trust and confidence in data. Furthermore, it can create effective mechanisms to reward contributors for the content they produce rather than simply profiting from it. Given that social networks currently struggle with public perception on both of these fronts, it won’t be surprising to if some of the well-known platforms will start working in this direction.