SOCIAL MEDIA ON BLOCKCHAIN
Bitcoin SV blockchain – Social Media Use Cases
For the vast majority of us, whether it be through personal endeavour, professional necessity or unavoidable inevitability, social media plays some role in each of our lives.
But while the rapid rise of social media has created an entire industry around it, it’s fast path to prominence coupled with the cartel-type tactics employed by the companies that control most of it, has created an environment that is neither secure nor equitable – albeit, an extremely profitable one.
We live in a world where users willingly part with swathes of valuable, private data in exchange for the psychological benefits that go with social media – and of course, the access to the platform itself. Personal information given away and used, oftentimes in a manner that is neither particularly secure, nor ever directly profitable for the vast majority of its users.
But by utilising blockchain technology, developers have the opportunity to initiate a paradigm shift in the dynamics and economics of social media – all while providing surety and security, backed by infinite scalability.
Inherent in the social media offerings built on the blockchain to date has been both the permanency and public availability of the data stored there – with personal data ownership also a core concept for many.
But while some blockchains can offer data storage capabilities, only Bitcoin SV has the ability to bear both the capacity and transaction volumes required to make social media a viable application to be built on chain. Combined with a unique ability to deploy transaction fee models, BSV represents a unique development opportunity for the betterment of what we know as social media – as some companies are already demonstrating.
Case Study: Social Chain(ge) - Twetch
Combining social savvy with the idea of an economically underpinned information marketplace gives you Twetch – a new take on the social media experience, powered by the Bitcoin SV blockchain.
‘All social media is wrecked,’ declares Josh Petty, CEO and co-founder of Twetch.
‘Whether it’s email, chat or using social networks, everything you do online is creating information. Social media companies are getting this data and they’re selling it in one way or another, and as a user, you don’t see anything in return. That’s exactly what we’re trying to address with Twetch.’
Twetch is a social media application built entirely on Bitcoin SV, with all activities and interactions carried out directly on the blockchain.
‘With Twetch, users own their data and have the ability to profit from their content,’ Petty explains.
‘In its current form, it feels a lot like Twitter. But when you post, it’s being posted to the Bitcoin SV blockchain – the data is actually hosted there – so you can access and take that data with you.’
Hosting the data on the blockchain gives users of Twetch an added layer of surety that their content and contributions will remain forever accessible, regardless of the status of the service itself. This stands in contrast to other social media companies, where data has disappeared with the website when businesses folded or a user was de-platformed. Crucially though, it also gives users the ability to exert genuine control over their data, whether that be geared towards privacy or profit.
‘At Twetch, we think that people are willing to pay for privacy. The more people who start to realize that everything that they post on Instagram – any picture or photo – could be put up on a billboard by Instagram and the user would earn nothing for it, the more I think that people will come around to our way of thinking,’ says Billy Rose, CMO and co-founder of Twetch.
‘All of this valuable information is just given away for free, with only the platform profiting. I think that as people become increasingly accustomed to the idea of paying very small amounts for things that they do on the internet; it will open up opportunities for new online business models.’
The real ingenuity apparent in Twetch is in the microtransaction network that scales with and sustains the platform as it grows, by utilising the unique feature set of the Bitcoin SV blockchain.
‘When somebody interacts with the information that you post, you’re earning. Using microtransactions, when you post something, it might cost you a penny or two to make that post. But, if somebody likes your post, or they share it or reply to it, they might pay a penny or two to make that interaction, so you’re earning back the pennies you paid to post that initial information,’ explains Petty.
‘It’s a really simple information market, and the best way that is understood is through a simple interface – like Twitter or like any other social media platform – but it’s built on Bitcoin.’
By building on the Bitcoin SV blockchain, Petty and his team had the ability to natively intertwine information and payments into linked transactions, opening up the possibilities available for how to both fund and scale their product. The result, a platform where users literally vote with their wallets, has been quick to draw interest from content creators previously marginalised by other platforms.
‘We’re seeing a lot of interest from people who create on the internet – artists, designers, photographers and even some big actors and directors,’ says Petty.
‘These types of people joining the platform – firstly, I think they’ve very entrepreneurial and I like that they’re willing to experiment – but I think that they understand that they can’t monetize their followers and their audience directly.’
In 11 months of operation, Twetch has grown its user base to more than 10,000 active on its private beta, with some well-known names including actor Danny Trejo (@8279) and director Eli Roth (@1676) counted amongst those.
Built on Bitcoin SV
Both Petty and Rose had previously toyed with the notion of developing a social media platform built on the blockchain, but had been unable to find a platform that would support their vision.
‘We had the idea of building an application like Twitter on the blockchain for many years, but there was just no blockchain that was capable of scaling or doing the things that we needed it to do – in particular, micropayments,’ says Rose.
‘Twetch is interesting psychologically, because people have all of this digital currency stored away, but no place to really use it other than to exchange it for dollars. Twetch offers people an outlet where they can use their digital currencies in their everyday lives. It might only be tiny amounts each time, but it shows that people are willing to pay for what they consume online, no matter how small.’
Testing that psychological model of directly incentivising the creation and consumption of quality content (while heightening the barriers for negative interactions – a feature Twetch dubs the ‘troll toll’) highlights the tiny transaction fees required to operate on Bitcoin SV which make such micropayments possible. Being able to transact for fractions of a cent each time, a capability enabled by the infinite scalability inherent in the design of BSV, makes it the only platform capable of supporting the growth that Twetch hopes to achieve – both in terms of the payment and technical infrastructure required.
‘With Bitcoin SV it’s quite simple: it doesn’t have an artificial cap and there’s no goofing around with the code – it’s a base protocol and it’s simple – everything else on top of that can be built really complexly,’ says Petty.
‘There are creative people out there and they understand that there is a future that is going to be built on Bitcoin SV and that it’s not going to stagnate, it won’t be restricted, there won’t be any artificial caps on this stopping us from growing and making really useful things on the blockchain.’
The feature set that makes the Bitcoin SV blockchain unique allows the vision that Petty and Rose had for an on chain social media experience to be possible, but also represents a window into what a world where the future of the internet is powered by Bitcoin might look like.
‘We knew that by using Bitcoin, we could start to empower the individual more than any other social media platform or application,’ says Petty.
‘The most important thing though, is that it works. That is the most important thing of all, because we’ve broken blockchains before. So blockchains that don’t freeze up are very important to us!’
Petty points to his team’s release of the Twetch software development kit [SDK] as evidence of the extent of their commitment, both to the platform and the wider Bitcoin SV ecosystem.
‘We recently released an SDK and what that means is that users and developers on Twetch can use this to create different tools. These can be used to develop new tools for use on Twetch, but to be clear, it doesn’t need to be Twetch-specific,’ explains Petty.
‘Using the SDK, you could create all sorts of things: chatbots that automatically interact on Twetch, you could develop tools to schedule posts, or have bots that can play Twetch users at games. But there’s a lot of potential – and what developers can really get from this are the tools to build services like Twetch – where data is owned by the users and posted to the chain, enabling interactions involving transacting information or payments.’
A Brighter Social Future
Despite having been founded less than one year ago, Twetch have built a demonstrable use-case that illustrates the potential of using the Bitcoin SV blockchain to power applications which require true enterprise scale. As the volume of transactions continues to grow across the BSV network, Twetch stands to become an increasingly prominent contributor – with support and features quick to be rolled out across the platform as it targets swathes of new users.
‘Originally we built Twetch to be a mobile-first application – we prioritized it being mobile-friendly – but it left us with a desktop layout that was unideal,’ explains Rose.
‘Getting the desktop experience right is something that we’ve been thinking about for a while and wanting to get done – but get it done right. The idea was to create a full-featured social media application, that looks, feels, and works like a desktop application.’
The look and feel of Twetch will be familiar to anyone with past experience using social media, with an easy to use interface intentionally designed to facilitate a flat learning curve for new users to the platform.
‘On the right side of the app, we experimented a little bit more and tried some new things. We created a quick search and notifications panel, as well as a leader board that contains the top ten people on Twetch – one list of those who have earned the most and one for those who have spent the most,’ says Rose.
‘What we’re trying to do is experiment with different ideas around how to find new people to get active on Twetch, as well as the ways which we can successfully identify the best and most-active users on the platform. Part of this is through exploring ideas around competitions and incentive mechanisms in order to create further activity on the platform and generate more transactions on the network.’
The release of the new desktop platform helps to round out the offering of the social media upstart, but represents just one of a pair of major new additions already credited to 2020. Earlier this year, Twetch released /Pay – a feature that integrates peer-to-peer transactions directly onto the platform and enables tipping.
‘/Pay enables anyone to send and receive payments directly on Twetch. it’s like a terminal command, where you put /Pay and then you tag the person you want to pay, enter the amount, and then it instantly sends peer-to-peer digital currency between users,’ explains Rose.
‘It’s like integrating Venmo or CashApp directly into Twitter – or in this case – Twetch. It uses Bitcoin as the payment system, so whichever wallet you’re using is used directly to transact.’
At present, Twetch supports Money Button and RelayX, but is working on collaborating with other Bitcoin SV wallets as part of an ambitious growth trajectory envisioned by its founders.
‘I hope that in 12 months’ time, we’ve continued to grow to the point where we have a platform that is capable of handling the needs of millions of users. I think that within 12 months’ time, too, we could have one million users active on Twetch,’ says Rose.
‘In order to do that, we have to build an application that can move at the speed of light and is capable of handling that amount of data. For us, it’s a matter of having the time and getting it all done. We have everybody here that we need on our team, we’re sold on the vision and willing to work hard for equity in the company.’
While confidence is important, investing everything in an effort to take on the behemoths that dominate the social media space takes a lot of guts – and a unique point of difference – both of which Twetch and the team behind it exude. It’s evident that there’s viable potential with Twetch – now, it becomes a matter of executing on it.
‘For us, I think it’s just taking everything step-by step, you have to take it all day-by-day and what we do is just try to keep building the best possible product that we can,’ says Rose.
‘I really do think that there is a huge hole in the market where a new entrant could come in and solve these issues: fix the de-platforming of users; allow content creators to earn; maybe even find a way to get rid of fake news. All of these things can be solved by us building an application on Bitcoin.’
Further Use Cases Emerging
While Twetch remains the most prominent use case of social media harnessing the power of the Bitcoin SV blockchain, it is far from the only one. With more than 400 projects being actively developed for Bitcoin SV, a number are also targeting this area, with some exciting initiatives to watch out for.
‘Memento is an ad-free social media experience,’ explains Jeremy Street, co-founder and CTO of Memento.
‘Unfortunately, you have social media like Instagram at the moment, where less than 1 percent of users are able to monetise their content – typically through advertising. Everyone else that uses the platform – including some of the most amazing photos and videos – get nothing for it. What we want to do is remove the ads from the equation and bring the power back to the people.’
Packaged in an Instagram-esque app, Memento works by incentivising interactions on the platform through micropayments. Instead of being served with advertisements, users are charged a nominal fee – which is earned by the user who posted the content – to interact with others’ posts, be it liking or commenting.
‘Memento essentially allows anyone in the world that has access to a smartphone and the internet, to be able to generate revenue from day one,’ explains Daniel Street, co-founder and CEO of Memento.
‘Instead of Instagram and Facebook making all of this money from its users, how about the users start making some back?’
Sign up to track the progress of Memento and join their private beta at mementosv.app
Primarily focused on the Chinese social media market, Tocial is a platform that combines a range of features found on competing platforms and ties them together with BSV micropayments.
To find out more, visit tocial.to