Is it time to Decentralize the World?


Is the current state of blockchain development ready to attract a large number of users? For the technology to become mainstream, it needs to be applied in ways that people actually find useful and provide a much better experience than what is already available. Can social media be crypto’s killer app? Decentralized and decentralizing technologies are challenging and changing how we manage our digital identities and who has access to our data. 

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and Weekly Columnist at Daily Fintech.

A couple of weeks a couple of stories surfaced in the news. The first was that Kik was shutting down its messenger app and cutting its staff from over 100 people to just 19 employees. Kik climbed to prominence alongside other well-known messenger apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram with its distinguishing feature of being privacy-centric. The second was that officials in the U.S., U.K. and Australia were pressing Facebook to give authorities a way to read encrypted messages sent by ordinary users, re-igniting tensions between tech companies and law enforcement.

If there’s one thing the Internet lacks, it’s privacy.

The cryptocurrency industry is 10 years old. The Internet was developed in the 70s, 80s and 90s and it didn’t really take off until the browser was created. Just like the Internet the cryptocurrency market needed to build its bridges and roads. I think that our Netscape moment has come. We now have the infrastructure to launch scalable decentralized applications on blockchain. The future of the internet is distributed, decentralized applications and not just things like cryptocurrency.

Some of the things, that are going to drive mass adoption for cryptocurrencies and blockchain, will be the same things that we use on the today on Internet, things like new decentralized social networks and messenger apps.

More and more, trends point to decentralization being the next step for social media. Almost all traditional social media apps track user activity and sell the aggregated information, behavior, and habits to provide the highest bidder with better targeting for their advertising and marketing campaigns. Two years ago, Facebook brought in $9.32 billion in revenue in the second quarter, mostly from mobile ads, and kept the profits to themselves.

At this point you can build just about anything on blockchain that you can build on the traditional Internet. Today, you can build a new Facebook entirely using a blockchain, and best of all, users could have absolute control of their data. We could control who has access to our data and give our permission to advertisers to access our data. We might even be the beneficiary of any renumeration that occurs because of access to our data. Imagine a world where you, the user, receives all of the revenues that are generated from your data and you know who has access to it.

Is that something you’d be interested using? I think that most of us would be.

It’s going to be exciting to watch how things develop over the next year, in the battle between the centralized social networks and the decentralized networks that are fighting for privacy, consent and user participation in the revenues that are generated.

Even more exciting will be messaging. Today, most of us are concerned over privacy. Is your Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp or Skype applications secure? Do you know? No, you don’t. You have to trust those platforms are doing what they say they’re doing. Blockchain enables a security layer to secure messaging systems, that even the companies offering the systems cannot access your data.

Decentralization doesn’t just mean more protection for personal data. It puts the power back into the hands of users by allowing them to have complete control over the information they give and receive, by eliminating the bias of ad-based centralized models that use our personal data.

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