Voice Launch Rushed in the Face of Legacy Social Media Crisis
Block.one, the company behind EOS project, will launch the Voice social network on July 4, the platform’s CEO Salah Zalatimo announced.
We pivoted, and decided to open up our platform for readers on July 4. Only registered user will be able publish or engage. Registration will remain by request until August 15, when users can begin to invite heir friends.
— Salah Zalatimo (@Salafel) June 5, 2020
Voice is the upcoming blockchain-based social network developed by Block.one, the team behind EOS blockchain.
Curiously enough, Dan Larimer, the tech maven behind EOS, has previously co-founded a social network somewhat similar to Voice—Steemit. Rumors pertaining to Larimer’s dissatisfaction with his firstborn and the desire to “replace” it have circulated among Steemians for years. Reportedly, the new iteration of blockchain social networks is supposed to fix the issues of its predecessor, like unfair distribution among other things.
What Is Voice?
Voice was first announced precisely a year ago, in early June 2019 and entered the beta stage in February. Block.one has invested heavily in this project, allocating $150 million to development alone and buying the voice.com domain name for record-breaking $30 million.
The Voice’s main features so far include mandatory verification and content monetization. There will be no bots, anons, or burner accounts. All users will have to verify their identity. And creating content will be rewarded not unlike how it is rewarded on Steemit. Each like will bring content creators some digital cash. Users will also gain tokens just for showing up (Nimses flashbacks intensify).
Curiously enough, Voice was initially meant to run on EOS blockchain but in December 2019 it was decided that it will be hosted on a custom-made EOSIO platform instead. The difference between the two may be subtle for a layman, but basically, EOS is a specific blockchain platform while EOSIO is a software that powers it. This move garnered some criticism toward EOS as the community realized that EOS, as admitted by its creators, was not ready to host an ambitious project like Voice due to some objective inadequacies.
After two years & $4B @block_one_ aren't confident enough to launch a Beta version of Voice on the EOS public blockchain. What message does that send to anyone thinking of building on EOS? So far, ETH killers have done little killing…https://t.co/jMhJEGBKsC
— Alex Saunders 🇦🇺👨🔬 (@AlexSaundersAU) January 18, 2020
Initially, the launch of Voice was planned for this fall but Voice Ceo Salah Zalatimo noted that he had to move the deadline because of the dire need for a new social network that would wrestle back control over people’s social lives from the yoke of big tech corporations.
I joined Voice earlier this year to build a social and publishing experience on top of that foundation. We had been building towards a big reveal this fall. But, we simply can't wait any longer. We need to take social back from big tech NOW. So, we did what startups do.
— Salah Zalatimo (@Salafel) June 5, 2020
Why Such Hurry?
With everything that is happening in the world right now, Salah Zalatimo could not be more spot-on saying that something needs to happen asap. In his personal blog he says that despite some sorts of speech being obviously illegal and thus eligible for hard censorship, many legacy social networks take it upon themselves to wade into gray area and posture as a moral authority on less clear-cut issues:
“Often, a judgment call needs to be made to determine if a piece of content crosses the line. The higher-level question that no one seems to be asking today is: who should be making that judgment call? Corporate executives? Government regulators? Councils of elite thinkers?
“Here’s a crazy idea, why not let the people decide? Empower them. Architect the platform to eradicate bots by verifying identities, eliminate targeted propaganda by protecting your personal data, and prevent political corruption by organizing into communities that have the tools to effectively self-govern.”
There is no use to expect a shift in corporate mentality and thus Voice team perhaps wants to seize the opportunity in the time when even the President of the United States is wrestling with a global corporation that took it upon itself to amend his tweets.
Of course, Voice creators realize that content moderation is still an important task and they have a solution to find a balance between a censorship gulag and a free-for-all quagmire. Pew Research notes that “anonymity abets anti-social behavior.” Voice has dealt away with anonymity, introducing obligatory KYC just to register on the platform.
Curb Your Expectations
The fact that Voice will launch in July does not mean you will be allowed to start posting and exploring the platform. Until August 15 it will be a read-only experience. And even then it is not yet clear whether new users will be able to register accounts freely or if there will be further limitations introduced.
It seems that Voice couldn’t wait to make a pr-statement at an opportune moment but was not yet ready to launch and start servicing users in earnest.
This article is a part of our Occupy the Internet series, where we review the current trends in the nascent decentralized web and cover the burning issues of privacy and censorship.
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