Most people will spend five years and four months of their lives browsing social networks. That will be more than the time spent eating and drinking, grooming or socializing in the real world in an average lifetime. As such, it's easy to claim that social networks and social media have truly become integral parts of people's daily lives.
However, the way social networks currently work still leaves much to be desired. Various studies have raised concerns about how this preoccupation with social media is affecting people's abilities to actually cope socially in the real world. In addition, social networks are also plagued by a lot of fake content and untrustworthy participants that only create poor social connections.
The big players aren't taking this in stride. Facebook , for instance, revealed that people are now spending less time on the network by an average of 2.14 minutes in light of changes and tweaks the company has made to its news feed algorithms. Users are now shown fewer viral videos as the system prioritizes content that drives social interaction such as posts from family and friends.
Other projects are taking a stab at improving the situation by introducing blockchain technology to the space. These ventures seek to apply blockchain technology's key features like trust, transparency and token economies to social networking. Blockchains may change the way people connect with each other through social networks for the better.
Matchmaking Made Better
Good people know other good people. Perhaps no other industry understands the wisdom of this adage more than human resources and recruitment. In the context of the job market, referrals continue to be a prime source of high-performing talent. Personal relationships could benefit from matchmaking as well. Despite the popularity of the "hot-or-not" mechanics of Tinder to help find romantic matches, being matched by friends continues to be a reliable way for people to find significant others.
Centralized matchmaking services like those provided by LinkedIn and Match typically feature generic algorithms that may not produce optimal results. Blockchain technology helps improve this experience by decentralizing the activity. Through a decentralized approach, blockchain-based matchmaking services can provide users with the means to take a more participative role and directly connect with each other.
For example, the PonderApp relies on human judgment and social capital to make suitable matches, rather than depending on a canned and impersonal algorithm. In addition, the platform uses crypto tokens to fuel its economy and incentivize successful matches. If the matched couples eventually marry, the matchmakers can earn as much as $1,000 for playing their part.
Matchpool offers something similar but with more focus on connections in general, which may not necessarily be romantic in nature. Matchpool also has group matchmaking options that could help like-minded individuals form interest groups and find organizations they can join.
Only Real People
Social networks also suffer from the lack of trust and truth, no thanks to the explosion of fake accounts, bots and trolls. Last year, Facebook reported having 270 million fake and duplicate accounts on its network. To deter this, Facebook has put new policies in place, including hiring additional review staff and using artificial intelligence (AI) to weed out these fake accounts.
Blockchain technology offers mechanisms for users to secure their own personal information and for services to use these blockchain records to validate identities. Uport is an open identity system that uses the Ethereum blockchain to allow users to register and manage their identities. Applications are also allowed to use Uport's protocols to validate and check credentials.
Such a system helps ensure that people using their platforms are who they say they are. By adopting these new means to validate user identity, social networks will be able to assure their user base that they will be interacting with other real people using real identities.
Fake accounts are now also used for disinformation campaigns that spread fake news. For instance, 62 percent of U.S. citizens get their news from social media, so it is quite alarming that such a large portion of the population may be at risk of being manipulated. Findings in the investigation concerning Russia's involvement in spreading fake news that might have influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election reveal that such concerns are valid.
Fortunately, aside from curbing the proliferation of fake accounts, blockchain technology also offers ways to encourage content creators and curators to focus on truth and facts. PUBLIQ , for instance, uses a blockchain to power its news and content sharing platform. To ensure the immutability of content, PUBLIQ encrypts stories on the blockchain. Activities like sharing and upvoting stories are also transacted using smart contracts. By using these blockchain functionalities, the spread of poor content and fake news is mitigated.
Decentralized blockchain matchmaking services help to shift the focus back to real connections and emphasize the value of human input in social activities. Identity platforms help combat the growing problem of fake and troll accounts that can distort and destroy otherwise healthy platforms for interaction. Content sharing and data exchange platforms that incentivize integrity also help uphold the truth.
Ultimately, social networks should help users forge more meaningful connections with others. Given how much social media and social networks influence daily life, it's critical for these grave concerns to be addressed sooner rather than later. Positive relationships are based on trust and truth - both of which blockchain mechanisms help establish.