Problems with Centralized Social Media
There are many problems with centralization in social media
Whether it be a company, a software application, or the elements that make up web 2.0. Each contains centralized elements that create walled gardens of power and value.
Centralization creates several issues in the world we live in today.
Issues such as:
Applications that run on centralized servers are vulnerable to attacks as they have a single point of entry that can be targeted by hackers looking to exploit any weaknesses.
When servers go down, users cannot access their data and applications are not accessible and may stop working.
Centralized companies and applications create an environment that is vulnerable to data breaches and are at risk of insider trading and wrong doings.
People in positions of power and those with access to private information can become bad actors due to many different reasons. An insider could have personal reasons for doing so or they could be influenced by a 3rd party.
Private teams make the decisions that affect entire ecosystems. For a user to use a centralized platform, permission needs to be granted by the centralized decision makers.
Users can be censored and de-platformed by a private central authority.
Users of centralized apps have their conversations and connections fragmented across different platforms and applications. The average social media user uses 6.7 social platforms every month. Conversations users have with family, friends, and coworkers exist siloed from one another and are attached to privately owned applications.
These silos create unnecessary hurdles and roadblocks that prevent continuity online, forcing users to: Build applications for closed ecosystems hindering innovation Rediscover contacts on each new application Manage the same conversations across platforms, wasting time and eliminating context Choose applications based on popularity Put trust in 3rd parties
When code is not transparent and not open source, it is executed behind closed doors. This makes the rules and parameters unknown to all but a few. It creates a walled garden of value that regular users cannot participate in.
Users' privacy, intellectual property and content ownership is under the control of and owned by another entity. Using centralized and privately owned data requires that a user must trust a 3rd party to keep their data safe and accessible.
Users in many centralized and privately owned ecosystems become the product and as such become monetized. Ads and content feeds are displayed based on things such as a user's prior or current activities making online activities a closely watched and calculated endeavour. Individuals are targeted based on interests, political ambitions, demographics, age and other personal data points. This creates an isolated experience online called ‘epistemic fragmentation’ where ad networks can take advantage of people in an isolated environment. This in a sense squashes free will and guides users like cattle to where a benefiting party wants them to go.
Roadblocks and challenges to web 3 adoption and decentralized platforms include things such as: content moderation, spam control, code upkeep, private key security, account recovery, scaling, transaction costs, regulations of digital assets, technical barriers, a growing number of blockchains, and centralized control of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO’s) and their governance or utility tokens.
A problem that exists with many decentralized apps is the quality of content and level of abuse by members who take advantage of a community governed ecosystem. Many projects attempt to control spam, threat actors, and poorly categorized content with an in-house team, a team that reinforces a platform's community guidelines. This can create centralized power and censorship in the ecosystem.
A technical hurdle exists as blockchain and web 3 are new technologies that are unfamiliar to most people. There is a learning curve for new entrants who are just beginning to use web 3 apps and protocols.
web 3 and blockchain applications are secured and accessed by user owned and managed private keys, creating added risk of the end user losing the vital information that controls access to their account and data.
Unlike traditional logins consisting of usernames and passwords, a private key can’t be recovered if it is lost or stolen. If a user's account access is compromised it could mean the loss of a user's digital identity, data, and digital assets.
Some blockchains currently can’t handle enough transactions to support a widespread adoption of their platform. This is a huge barrier to entry and slows or stops any momentum phases in adopting web 3 technology.
Developers of web 3 applications need to consider that the use of their platform will likely have a cost barrier to use. In many cases it will be the users of the application who will need to fund their accounts with a digital asset in order to perform actions or to send transactions. An example of this is gas fees on the Ethereum blockchain where end users need to pay for each onchain transaction.
As web 3 and decentralized web infrastructure are still being built, they can be slow and lack performance when compared to centralized web infrastructure.
The number of blockchains continues to increase. It seems as if there are new blockchains with new promises every week. They claim to be faster, more scalable, more equipped for the future and each trying to one up the other in one niche or the other. This can make a confusing landscape even more confusing to new entrants and deter participation in the ecosystem entirely.
An ecosystem that is built with decentralized technologies is only as decentralized as its token allocation. In many cases tokens are owned by whales (large investors) who control the direction of the ecosystem similar to that of a centralized one.
A lack of digital asset regulations around the world and the differences in regulations from one location to another make for a legal grey area which creates uncertainty and confusion. This stifles innovation and keeps the mainstream a step behind in adopting blockchain and web 3 technology.