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Chances are, you might remember reading something somewhere about a controversial platform called BitClout back in early 2021. BitClout did some noise because it incentivized people to follow creators on the platform that had not yet "claimed" their profile. It's probably for this reason that BitClout, after sparking this initial controversy, kind of flew under the radar last year.
Not just that but, in 2021, the world was still too busy trying to catch up with all the new innovations in the crypto space that seemed ready to go mainstream — namely NFTs and the Metaverse. But all this time, a quiet revolution was happening in the social media realm and the concept and technologies behind Decentralized Social kept growing.
What is Decentralized Social and How it Works
BitClout is the first app created on top of the DeSo blockchain. The name DeSo is short for Decentralized Social and is also the name of the blockchain's native currency.
The DeSo blockchain has been specifically created for supporting the creation and scaling of decentralized social media applications. The idea behind this blockchain is to treat social posts as transactions with data directly written to the blockchain. This means that, instead of posts being owned by centralized platforms, they are now publicly accessible inside the DeSo blockchain. This data can then be used and shared by multiple applications.
Anyone can create a social app on top of the DeSo blockchain and curate it as they choose by filtering the data from the blockchain itself. For example, someone could create a social app focused on sports, and choose to show a feed of the posts and profiles only related to sports.
This means that users creating a profile on an application built on DeSo are creating a profile directly on the blockchain—this profile will show up in any DeSo app which chooses to show that person's content. There are currently four main social apps built on DeSo:
- Bitclout, the first app created on the blockchain
- DiamondApp, a newer version of BitClout with a slightly different UI
- Desocial World, based on helping people with native languages other than English find their community and filter posts in their language
- and CloutFeed, the first mobile application built on the DeSo blockchain (available on iOS and Android)
"There's value in combining all of the content into a single pool, since it allows for curation at a global scale, but whoever we put in charge of maintaining the pool is ultimately going to become a centralized gatekeeper like what we have today. A solution would arise if we had a way to shift the network effect to a public pool of content that no individual entity controls-- but can it be done? We believe all of these problems can be solved by decentralizing social media in the same way Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralizing the financial system."
$DESO, NFTs, Diamonds, and Creator Coins
Interactions on DESO are the same as you would expect on any other social network, such as likes, comments, shares, and follows, with the addition of an exciting range of possibilities unlocked by the use of tokens.
The $DESO currency has recently been added to CoinBase, which makes it easier than ever for creators and investors to buy, earn, and trade it. At the time of writing, the price of $DESO is roughly $56, a low price compared to its recent high of $78.50 on January 15, 2022.
$DESO is used across the ecosystem. Owing $DESO allows you to tip the creators of content you like by giving their posts diamonds. You can give a post as many diamonds as you like, with one diamond being roughly equivalent to $0.01. When you sign up, you'll automatically get a small amount of $DESO in your wallet to get you started. With this, you can choose to unlock your Creator Coin by buying a small amount of it.
Once your Creator Coin is made available, people can choose to buy it. If they do, the price of your coin goes up. If they sell, the price goes down. Creator Coins unlock exciting features in the social network because it incentivizes creators to connect and engage with their audience as well as to create meaningful content. Creators can send coins to followers, and users of the network can invest in the creators they like the most. Believing in a creator early on, for example, means buying their coin at a very cheap price. If this creator grows on the platform, the price of their coin will increase substantially, making this an interesting investment for people who bought the coin early.
While it might seem like the value of Creator coins is too tightly linked to reputation, there are a ton of applications for it that we could see implemented in the very near future:
- Exclusive meetings
- Premium content
- Sponsored posts
- Access to direct messaging with a creator (limiting the amount of spam most creators need to deal with)
And the list goes on.
Besides trading currencies, creators have the ability to mint their post into an NFT or an NFT collection. These NFTs can then be sold and traded directly on the platform. DeSo NFTs have a myriad of potential applications while being very easy and low-cost to create. Some of the potential use cases for NFTs on DeSo platforms are:
- Event tickets
- Exclusive experiences
- Unlockable digital content
- Exclusive chat groups
The DeSo blockchain project is still in its early days of development, but it has a community strongly dedicated to seeing it grow and who believe in its long-term vision. With social media being such a big part of many people's lives, there's no doubt a project like DeSo has its place in the crypto world.
Though it does seem like all eyes are turned towards projects in the Metaverse at the moment, decentralized social media will most likely become increasingly popular as we move forward into normalizing the use of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.