As Web2 social media platforms continue to grapple with concerns about data privacy, misinformation, and content moderation, many users are turning to alternative forms of social media.
Among these alternatives are Web3 social media platforms, which are built on decentralized networks and feature community-driven governance, ownership and monetization of data and content, and transparency and immutability. While web2 networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., have been around for roughly 20 years, web3 social media has emerged relatively recently.
To learn more about the benefits and challenges of Web3 social media, we spoke with Rick Porter, co-founder and CEO of DSCVR, a decentralized social media platform that is creating a more equitable and user-centric approach to social networking.
Rick told us about the advantages of Web3 social media, the role of community governance in promoting user empowerment, and the challenges of building successful DAOs.
Rick Porter is the co-founder and CEO of DSCVR, a decentralized social platform built entirely on the Internet Computer (ICP). Major social networks have become immensely powerful and core to the way we communicate as a society, yet they are distrusted by their own users. DSCVR is a social network that presents the potential for a different future.
Our discussion with Rick Porter is shared below.
Crowdfund Insider: Has user dissatisfaction with mainstream social media caused users to seek out alternatives? What do those alternatives look like?
Rick Porter: Mainstream social media isn’t working for users, creators, or communities. All parties have become frustrated with these big platforms for a variety of reasons including their arbitrary decisions, unexpected changes, disconnected leadership, and immense concentration of power. They are controlled by very few people, in very few board rooms, and apparently can be bought by a single rich person and redesigned to his whims.
This lack of trust in traditional social media has opened the door for emerging Web3 social media platforms, which are gaining popularity as alternatives to platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These Web3 social media platforms allow users to have more control over their content, communities and even monetization.
In practice, this new paradigm for social media can manifest in several different ways. Online communities can gain financial power and govern themselves more effectively by organizing as DAOs. Creators can more directly monetize their content through digital assets that seamlessly flow through the platform. Individuals can have greater control over how their content is used, what shows up in their feeds, and can even have a say in the direction of the platform itself.
Crowdfund Insider: How do Web3 social networks involve users in community governance? Why is this important for the future of these platforms?
Rick Porter: One of the main goals of social media is community and finding a place to be connected with people and organizations you care about. Unfortunately, Web2 social media has become more about broadcasting to audiences as a substitute for true community. This is because users have little control over their communities, few options to configure governance, and no say in how their communities’ content is delivered through the pipes of the platform.
Web3 community governance is decentralized and can be configured to be very democratic. This governance can range from blockchain-based polls in a social feed, all the way to fully decentralized autonomous organizations, also known as DAOs. These smart contract-based mechanisms distribute power and resources in an equitable and efficient manner. Because they do not require a central governing authority, they align with web3’s egalitarian ethos. In a Web3 social network, the smart contracts of the DAO community can literally interact with the smart contracts that run the overall platform.
Importantly the DAO communities have elevated importance because they can achieve economic power by plugging into the underlying crypto rails and earning assets. For example, communities can earn digital assets from tips, advertising, or commerce that takes place on the platform. They can sell NFTs, design smart contract content, games, or even DeFi applications that take advantage of the social graph and the crypto economic rails to transact in real digital assets. They can then even choose to distribute the profits of their community activity back to the community or put it to work to further the cause of the community.
In Web2, communities and even individuals rarely have economic power. In select cases, the top 1% economically participate in something like the YouTube partner program. But even then, it’s not an open ecosystem. It’s a very selective and controlled process from the top down.
Economic and governance participation in the open ecosystems of Web3 social media, means that users can have a greater say in the development and governance of the platform they use, rather than being subject to the whims of centralized authorities like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Once users experience this level of economic and governance participation, it’s going to be hard to accept the Web2 status quo.
Crowdfund Insider: How can community governance promote greater user trust on Web3 social media networks?
Rick Porter: When people are participating in the governance and economics of the platform they gain a better understanding of how it works which in turn drives trust. Over time, community governance leads to a more user-centric platform that better meets the needs and desires of its users. The distributed nature of the platforms also adds a level of transparency that builds trust in users.
Crowdfund Insider: What does web3 social offer that web2 social networks do not?
Rick Porter: Control over your content and communities is given in Web3 social that Web2 social failed to deliver. But the real power of Web3 social is economic participation for users and communities. The crypto underpinnings for Web3 enable direct and seamless collection and distribution of assets through social platforms in a multitude of ways; user to user, user to community, community to user, community to community, advertiser to community, DeFi project to community… if it can be smart contracted assets can be transacted in a way that empowers individuals and their communities.