Social media users are smelling the smoke and feeling the heat - their homes are on fire.
The recent exorbitant API fee increases by platforms like Twitter and Reddit are warning signals. Once again, it is time to prepare for a change.
These platforms are shifting away from welcoming and accommodating their users. Now, users are just captive resources to harvest and extract.
As Reddit and Twitter users search for another platform to move to, some seek a permanent solution. A place they can call their forever home.
This essay advocates for a new paradigm: decentralized social media as the future, serving as stable platforms where individuals can create lasting communities.
The Vicious Cycle
We've seen this cycle play out several times in the past decade:
Initially, social media platforms entice users to join by offering a welcoming environment.
Users onboard and enjoy their time on the platform, creating friendships and communities.
After a sufficient user base has been captured, the platform removes its mask: it starts monetizing its users.
Trapped by their investment in the platform, they feel disenchanted and have no choice but to comply with ever-changing policies.
Communities suffer internal conflict - should they stay or move somewhere else?
Only now do users realize their communities are fragile - they have built on flawed bedrock.
Only now do they discover they have constructed their community inside a dictatorship.
The misery increases until, at some point, a new social media company shows up, and users flock to a new oasis - and the cycle starts again.
Social Media Should Not Be Owned By Companies
Users are tired of running in circles, moving from one company to another. Social Media should not be owned by companies.
Social Media should be owned by the communities that inhabit them.
It serves as digital town squares and natural parks.
It facilitates public discourse.
It allows individuals to connect with friends and family, discover new hobbies and interests, and self-organize into communities.
These corporate platforms are valuable only because of us, the people who made it their home and breathed life into their barren platform.
Social Media Platforms need to be aligned with their users who provide value to the platform.
The power to shape the platform's future must require a collective endeavor.
This requires a new foundation for Social Media Platforms.
Decentralized Social Media as a New Paradigm
Decentralized Social Media (DSM) is a new bedrock for building forever communities.
DSM is anti-authoritarian - No single entity can enforce rules on the rest of the network.
DSM is anti-fragile - Essential data is distributed, replicable, and open-access. No single point of failure exists.
Because of this, no one party can hold users hostage and force them to comply with new overbearing policies.
Because of this, the permission to shape the platform's future requires a collective endeavor.
As a result of this open-access policy, developers can innovate new ways to integrate social media.
I and many others have chosen to make Farcaster, a Decentralized Social Media platform, our home.
For total transparency - it's not perfect:
New users face onboarding challenges; Registering an account on DSM differs from well-established patterns of traditional social media. Since a single company does not own all accounts, credentials are not through email/username & password. Instead, a new set of technologies is used to create user accounts for Farcaster.
The onboarding challenges limit our community to those willing to be a bit tech-savvy. For now, the community is small and close-knit, mainly consisting of those passionate enough to learn how to use these new technologies.
However, we've started our forever home here for those who have jumped these (small) hurdles.
For me, joining Farcaster has evoked a sense of nostalgia from the early days of the internet.
I've rediscovered a feeling of community.
It's a place where I find shared values with online strangers.
Even rarer, I find it easy to make genuine friendships.
Each week, I discover more social integrations developers have bridged with Farcaster. Each integration brings new ways to have fun with friends.
Each week, I enjoy Farcaster more and more.
For the skeptics who aren't convinced yet, I'll hope you'll listen to this observation:
Corporate social media seems to be trending toward worse user experiences as companies exit their growth/user-acquisition stage and start to monetize through rent extraction policies.
At the same time, DSM is trending up, creating more enjoyable user experiences for the long term.
Even if you don't join right now, keep an eye on DSM.
As time passes, more users and developers will recognize DSMs as ideal platforms to spread roots, build homes, and establish lasting communities.
On behalf of our community, I'm extending an open invitation - join us whenever you find the tradeoffs to be worthwhile.
As corporate social media platforms tighten their grip, it becomes essential to embrace decentralized social media.
Only through decentralization can individuals find stability to create enduring communities and homes they will never be forced to leave behind again.
However, onboarding new users is challenging. Education and a willingness to learn to adopt new decentralized technologies are required.
Let's seize this opportunity to shape a future where power resides with the people, cultivating vibrant, inclusive, and lasting digital communities.
- Loading comments...