What If, Together, We Owned Our Social Networks? – Utne

The truth is that social networks today have become public utilities. They are part of our societal infrastructure, and they inform every aspect of our social, professional, political and financial life. Yet it remains owned and controlled by profit-driven companies, creating (at least) three major issues – data privacy, data ownership, and freedom to publish and share.

Some suggested that the government nationalize them. But owning the government and controlling what gets communicated and who communicates with whom seems like a recipe for disaster, perpetuating the same problems of privacy, property and free speech.

Enter socially owned social platforms

Blockchain and cryptocurrency offer a solution: social networks owned and controlled by participants via a so-called DAO – a decentralized autonomous organization. DAOs are removing the medium, relying instead on a transparent code that no one can change while allowing participants to directly and freely interact with each other – driver with passenger, homeowner with guests, brand with individual, and person with person.

With no middleman, no one to violate our privacy, no one to monetize our data, and no one to monitor us.

data privacy

We share a lot with technology companies – our names, our phone numbers, our friends. We publish information about the details of our private lives, declare our interests, and sign electronic petitions. Then there’s all our negative data – every time you search, drive, and use a connected device, you’re giving away your data. But if we build these social platforms on the blockchain, they will be the gatekeeper of all your data to do whatever you want. In this way, data privacy is secured.

data property

Whose data is this for, anyway? And what about our obsessively paying attention to social networks? It seems unfair that while we create all the content and pay our attention, the only people who win are the business owners.

Thanks to DAOs, we have the ability to automatically and continuously provide revenue from these platforms to users – yours and me. Or we could all decide to use that money, for example, to clean up the ocean, house the homeless, and feed the hungry. That is, instead of the enormous wealth generated by our information, interest, and participation that goes to the business owners, DAOs allow this wealth to be used for the benefit of all.

Freedom of Expression and Association

Facebook has been accused of undermining democracy through the spread of “disinformation”. But who gets to decide what exactly is information and what is misinformation? I, for example, don’t trust Facebook or the government.

In a socially owned social platform, people are free to decide what they want to see and what they don’t want to see without the profit motive that Facebook decides for them. If someone posts something emphatically hateful and malicious, the community can build ways not to censor per se but to disqualify that content.

Innovation for the good of all

Over the past 25 years, the overriding goal of Silicon Valley innovation has been to extract as much value as possible from as many people as possible to be stacked by as few people as possible. Today, thanks to the technology that powers DAOs, we can innovate for everyone’s benefit and build socially owned platforms in which we can do everything we do now but with privacy, freedom, and the greatest incentive for everyone: revenue is automatically and constantly paid to us.


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