CEO of Steemit: Blockchain-Based Social Media Gives People Their Freedom Back
Founders of Steemit, a platform rewarding its users for creating and curating content, believe that Â blockchain technology can be applied to social media. Forklog discussed the idea of leveraging the technology behind bitcoin for social media applications with Ned Scott, Steemit Co-founder and CEO.
Forklog: The first question is about the basic idea of a social network on aÂ blockchain. Some reviews put forward Â a number of arguments against storing your personal data on some public ledger, which is irreversible. Why would anyone generally bother to be on a social media network using blockchain technology instead of Â more traditional social media?
Ned Scott: People find that blockchain-based social media gives them their freedom back â€“ these are uncensorable systems, and in today’s age we are seeing more and more manipulation of content, whether it be in news sorting algorithms, which was a big problem at Facebook recently, or in censorship, which we are seeing happen repeatedly on sites such as Reddit. With a blockchain solution, such as Steemit, no content can ever truly be censored. Beyond that, blockchain technology supports digital tokens, which make for great rewards incentives when it comes to posting, voting and community engagement.
FL: Â We have already seen plenty of attempts to build decentralized social networks or decentralized publishing platforms (eg. Datt, Akasha, Minds, Reveal, and Synereo) and recently you have launched yours in beta. How does your project stand out from the crowd? Â What problem from user’s perspective do you exactly solve?
Ned Scott: All of these projects are approaching an incredible problem â€“ how do we give social media back to the people. We approached Steemit with a new solution in mind. Steemit uses a token called Steem, which has a market value on cryptocurrency exchanges, and using seignorage, similar to Bitcoin mining, the blockchain is able to distribute value to posters and voters. The way it works is, the better a post performs, the more the poster and voters can earn. Other models that we’ve studied are leverage tipping concepts and revenue sharing models, which inherently have lots of friction or involve third parties. One of Steemit’s advantages is that its voting doesn’t have any more friction than a facebook ‘like’ because its blockchain has no transaction fees, and no third parties are needed for incentives to exist to continue building the platform.
FL: Recently you have reported of the outstanding growth of Steemit’s userbase. How many people use the social network and, well, how exactly they use it?
Ned Scott: We’re seeing growth every day, and it’s all reported openly on steemle.com, a site created by a partner entrepreneur. We can see increasingly fast-growing account sign ups, posts, votes, and replies.
FL: What are the technologies that you use at Steemit? Do you use public or private blockchain? How can a user be sure that he or she owns his/her personal data? Is your project open source?
Ned Scott: We use a public blockchain, Steem, which holds the text of posts and records votes, as well as supports the cryptocurrency that incentivizes participation. The data on the blockchain is all public, so it’s not there for us to leverage, but it’s given back to the people. The blockchain is entirely open source and live source. We’ve already seen third-party entrepreneurs begin to build competing apps directly from the chain, including steemd.com, which we’re very happy to see. The website interface for Steemit has just been open sourced, and we did this to promote openness and to help add momentum to the Steem movement which is growing faster each day. There’s also an active integration going on with IPFS, Interplanetary File System, to facilitate distributed reliability for picture and video content.
FL: How is private messaging implemented at Steemit? Do you use end-to-end encryption for private messaging?
Ned Scott: We are actively integrating end-to-end private messaging directly into the Steem blockchain as a blockchain plugin. Our users have been very keen to have this implemented, and we feel it can have a major impact on the usefulness of the platform.
FL: What are your immediate plans and what do you aim at in the long-term?
Ned Scott: In the short run we would like to bolster our core proposition of a curated social media site, but in our next phase we see integrations with publishers and bloggers looking to monetize their content without ads. Imagine a Steemit button on every WordPress blog. In the long run, we have plans for decentralized plugins integrated into Steem that we’re looking forward to announcing.
Interviewed by Eugene Muratov
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