The Death Of Traditional Social Media Is Nigh
If you’re reading this, you use social media. It’s ubiquitous these days. I’m young enough that I don’t remember a ton from before Facebook took off, but the kids these days probably can’t even imagine a world without social media. Despite the drawbacks, it is an immensely valuable tool, and is here to stay.
“If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it.”
Well, it’s broke.
Lucky for us, Subsocial is fixing it. Though, it’s more like dissecting it, ditching the bad parts, keeping the good parts, and then finding more parts from all over the place. Parts that involve decentralized finance, decentralized governance, and censorship resistance.
Modern social media, a.k.a Web 2 social media, started out innocently enough. Jack just wanted to let everyone know he was brushing his teeth, and Mark just wanted to rate hot chicks with his friends. Yet here we are, with our data being harvested, our minds being programmed, and our free speech being infringed upon. When the leader of one of the world’s largest nations gets kicked off Twitter, it’s obvious: it’s broke.
Luckily for us, Subsocial fixes this.
The New Paradigm
We can all see that Web 2 social media is broke. But what can we do? Not use it? That can feel so isolating after all these years of connectivity, plus we will miss out on the myriad benefits that this wonderful tool has to offer when created and used properly. Now, let’s take a walk down Subsocial Street…
Subsocial operates on a Substrate based blockchain. It is currently not a part of the Dotsama ecosystem.
First and foremost, your Substrate wallet is your Subsocial account, and you can set your profile identity on the Subsocial app. To interact with the network, you have to spend $SUB tokens.
The layout of the Subsocial network is a mishmash of blog platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and probably a few more. At the core of Subsocial are Spaces. A Space is like a page or a group that can have members and posts, mint its own subtoken, and be governed. If you want to post, you have to post to a Space. Spaces have owners and followers. Owners are able to control how the Space is run, and what the followers of that Space are allowed to do. Followers are able to interact with a Space to the extent hat the Space’s owners have allowed.
If you want to set up a Space similar to a subreddit, you just need to have some other people follow it. You can set a topic for that Space, and if someone consistently deviates, you can either kick him yourself (or vote with a group of moderators), or you can make every follower of the Space an owner, and completely decentralize the moderation process, so the entire Space gets to vote on whether to kick the ol’ rascal out. If you took the first route, you would enable followers to post, comment, upvote, and downvote, like subscribers to a subreddit. If you took the latter, everyone would be able to do all of that by default.
You might think, if everyone is an owner and can do everything, what stops one of them from kicking me because they don’t like me? Well, right when you create the Space, you can set it to require a vote to kick members. Then, despite everyone being an owner, they will have to vote to kick people, and would also have to vote to change that particular setting (a motion that would likely fail).
If you want to operate a Space like Twitter, you can make a Space that allows only you to post in it, but allows everyone else to view it, in addition to disabling downvotes and editing of posts and comments. Then, they can follow your Space, and will see your posts on their feed, and, just like tweets, they will be able to like and share them.
As you can see, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Censorship and Moderation
Current social media platforms are able to silence whoever they want, whenever they want, for whatever reason they want.
Luckily for us, Subsocial fixes this.
Free speech is vital to a well functioning, peaceful, and innovative society. Some may disagree with me about the peaceful part, but that, my good sir, is where the moderation comes in.
BUT WAIT! This is not moderation of other people, it’s moderation of your feed. Let Billy Joe continue to spout his madness! You do not have to see it, but you do not get to prevent it. Likewise, he does not have to see any content you produce. This works similar to the block function on Twitter, but you can block entire categories of content if you want. Don’t want to see videos? Don’t want to see politics? Don’t want to see underwater basket weaving? You don’t have to.
Being built on the blockchain, which is decentralized, censorship is impossible on Subsocial. No central authority will get to decide what is acceptable. Obviously, censorship and moderation can and will happen inside of Spaces, but you are free to create your own Space where you will be free. What content is visible to an individual user is now solely their responsibility. Freedom of speech and expression will run rampant down the block (ba-dum-tss).
Hey kid, have you ever wanted to get paid to shitpost? Well now you can — welcome to the future!
Jokes aside, everyone wants to get paid for their production, whether that’s helping construct a skyscraper, building a dApp, or simply shitposting on Twitter.
Subsocial aims to feature a laundry list of monetization avenues built straight into the blockchain. First and foremost is tipping — sending tokens straight to the creator of a post or comment. Also planned are subscriptions and Pay-per-view options.
Subsocial will also allow renting, which is highly interesting. Say you own a very popular Space, and someone is looking to get more eyes on their latest piece of content. They can pay you to rent some space in your Space (see what I did there?) and show their content there, where it will be seen by all the followers of your Space. Alternatively, you could rent a popular post to another Space to drive traffic to them in exchange for royalties.
Smart contracts allow for massive options when it comes to monetization. You can essentially create a multi-signature wallet that owns posts and divides the revenue appropriately. You could create a piece of content and let other people bid for ownership of it. You could implement royalties on a resalable piece of content, like an NFT. It will be very exciting to see what monetization strategies are implemented on the Subsocial network.
Everyone’s Favorite: DAOs
DAOs are near and dear to the hearts of many. They are great, so it is no wonder that Subsocial includes them too!
When a Space has multiple owners, it functions as a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). The multiple members collectively decide what actions the Space will take. This can involve setting up roles, determining what followers of the Space can do, and how to handle revenue from monetization of content. You and some friends can now easily set up a joint venture to produce content and share the money bag.
As previously mentioned, Spaces can have their own subtokens. This token can essentially act as a governance token for the Space/DAO. A Space could even be set up in such a way that owning its subtoken entitled you to a share of the Space’s revenue, like a stock.
Integrating DAOs with Subsocial’s Social Finance (SoFi) features will lead to some very interesting revenue and content creation strategies.
My friend recently discovered that he could download every message he has ever sent on Facebook. Over a decade worth of messages, probably numbering in the millions. Facebook has all of that, and more. This is madness!
Luckily for us, Subsocial fixes this.
It does so by integrating with InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) to store content in a decentralized way. There is no central party in control of all your data, which also means there is no central location which can be hacked to access your data. Nobody can access it except you and the people you allow.
Additionally, if you post content to a site like Twitter or Medium, it is questionable whether you own it anymore. They have the data. With Subsocial, that content is always tied to your cryptographic key — you are the clear owner.
Subsocial truly allows customization, far beyond what first comes to mind. The team has built a frontend (a website that interacts with the blockchain), which has some standard customization features, but anyone can build a front end and set it up however they like, and it can still connect to the Subsocial chain.
Any colors, any fonts, any layout, any wording for menus, etc. You could make only certain buttons available if you wanted. The list goes on. In fact, just to showcase this, the team has also built a second frontend, Polkaverse (you’ll need to disable Adblock to connect), which is aimed at the Dotsama community.
What determines what you see in your feed? Some algorithm created by a megacorp that makes money off your attention and time. If you pay close attention it is obvious that these algorithms do not have our best interest in mind. They will show you stuff to make you upset, and get you to argue with people. The worst part is, we can’t do anything about it besides not use the site at all.
Luckily for us, Subsocial fixes this.
It does so by supplying the community with an Algorithm Marketplace. Developers will be able to create their own algorithms for determining what content to show on a feed. Users can pick and choose which algorithm they prefer, and apply it, further customizing their experience. Algorithms that suck will be rated poorly, and the days of social media raising blood pressure will be history. If you want, you will be able to choose a Sunshine & Daisies algorithm, and just see the lovely stuff.
Additionally, this will aid in attracting developers to the community, as it provides them with more work to be paid for. More developers is always good, and will result in even better algorithms.
We’ve already gone over the governance of Spaces themselves, but like all Substrate based blockchains, Subsocial has governance over the whole chain. This chain-wide governance will determine what upgrades are implemented to the Subsocial chain and how the funds in the Treasury are spent. And seeing as Treasuries are my favorite topic…
The treasury is like the guild vault for the entire Subsocial chain. Its purposes and applications are crucial to the Subsocial ecosystem. The treasury will be the main source of funding for future development of the Subsocial chain, as well as provide some funds for marketing efforts, educational content about Subsocial, and more.
The team has taken the treasury idea from Polkadot and improved upon it. The Subsocial team aims to have three councils that oversee the treasury, with each council consisting of experts over one particular area. These three areas will be Technology, Marketing, and User Experience. This will ensure that funds only get allocated to proposals with a legitimate value addition.
We’ll start with the supply. Currently, there are 100 million $SUB tokens. At the moment, the plan is to have 10% inflation per year, however there will be no inflation during the first year. This is subject to change before launch, and as always, we can set the inflation to whatever we want via on-chain democratic governance.
The inflation will be used to pay the collators (who produce the blocks that make up the Subsocial blockchain), add funds to the treasury, and provide rewards for crowdloan participants. Did I say crowdloan? More on that in a minute. Inflation may also go towards paying content creators, but this is TBD. If it does, the split will be 25% of inflation to each of those four destinations. If not, I imagine it will be split 33% each for collators, the treasury, and crowdloan rewards.
As for demand, it will be generated by users of the network. Almost every action on the network will require a small fee of $SUB tokens (though we may be able to stake our $SUB and receive a certain number of free transactions every day). Advertisers will have to pay for ad space with $SUB. Collators will need $SUB in order to run their validator nodes, and anyone that wants to participate in governance will also need $SUB tokens. Most monetization that takes place on Subsocial will likely feature $SUB tokens as well. Tips and subscriptions, ad revenue, and renting space/posts will all necessitate a token transaction. Last but not least, you will need $SUB if you wish to acquire the subtokens of any Spaces — unless Subsocial acquires a parachain slot and Space subtokens are trading on DEXs in the ecosystem…
I hope you enjoyed our walk down Subsocial Street. So, what does the future hold for Subsocial?
In the near future, Web 2 social media will continue to break, while the Subsocial team continues to build, as the full product is still in development. Slowly but surely content creators will move to the Subsocial platform for all the advantages it provides over any other alternative, until one day it will seem as if a flood washes over this blockchain of Social Finance.
I’m sure you are wondering, like me, will Subsocial become a parachain? Only time will tell. The team is contemplating bidding for a slot on Kusama, as the integrations would bring immense value to Subsocial, as well as the entire Dotsama ecosystem. They do have 25% of the initial total token supply set aside to provide crowdloan rewards. Last I heard, they were looking for feedback on whether people would contribute to a crowdloan or not. You can let them know on Subsocial, Twitter, Discord, or Telegram.
As for what the far future holds for Subsocial? I imagine a social utopia, rich and abundant with content, flourishing in a way that is only possible in a truly free environment. Join me there.
Life as soon as Web 2 social media dies:
Content Lead & Community Manager at Subsocial, Content Lead at The Polkadot Experience & The Canary Network Experience, CBO at GM Parachain, Advisor at SkyLabsCorp & Chaos Collective, and PR at ChaosDAO