How Blockchain Is Reinventing Your News Feed
New blockchain platforms are trying disrupt the traditional news feeds.
59% of Americans get their news from Twitter. Screenshot by Omri BarzilayThe decline of the print press is well documented as the internet and the power of online news sources have forever changed the way we consume news. To put things in perspective, recall the sale of the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2015 for the stunning price of $50 million — effectively a purchase of the paper’s real estate holding – a whopping decline from the paper’s estimated $1 billion value in 2004.
This radical shift was spurrednew on by the rise of new technology: The internet created an instant, cheap, and mobile delivery vehicle for news content. News writing has continued, but the shape of news distribution has been changed forever. During the newspaper era, the gatekeepers were large corporations that delivered the news to the people based on what they determined was newsworthy. The internet revolution sought to remove those gatekeepers and make news more public and democratic.
However, instead of removing the gatekeepers, the internet revolution simply gave us new ones in the guise of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and whoever owns the online news portal. These entities can filter or influence the news communicated to their readers, filling the shoes of the print media giants of the past. However, in a fitting twist of fate, what the internet did to the print newspaper gatekeepers may already be on the horizon for today’s digital media outlets. New technologies are seeking to again disrupt the industry by decentralizing control, genuinely removing the gatekeepers from public news access, thus ensuring censorship and bias-free news and social media.
Blockchain Tech Seeks to Decentralize News
The biggest issue with news sources in the digital age is verifiability. How do consumers know what is true, and how do they trust what gatekeepers feed them? Just look at the war of words between the major media outlets seeking readership during the last American election. Accusations of bias were everywhere, and the public has grown sick of the lack of clear and unbiased journalism. Startups like Snip has noticed this opportunity and develop solutions to decentralizing control through blockchain-based mechanisms. These solutions may be the cure for today’s news and social media ills. Blockchain-based delivery of news can empower consumers to verify and promote news, thus changing the way we digest news, whether on social media or mainstream media feeds.
How Blockchain Tech Can Fix Mainstream Media
In the corporate realm, organizational news has become something of a joke around the proverbial water cooler. Trump recently labeled CNN as the "Clinton News Network," and it’s no secret that Fox News leans far right. The public has sought a source of news that is quick to digest, easy to find, and verified by users rather than by centralized publishers. Blockchain and the power of decentralization can produce just such a system. Snip has sought to bring these aspects of news consumption to the public. It has created a distributed system wherein writers can offer snippets — concise summaries of news articles — and the public can choose the topics they want to read about, whether sports, technology, medicine, etc.
While this is certainly nothing new, the incentive system is. The company has built a verification and reward system wherein the writers can earn SnipCoin (Snip’s version of a cryptocurrency token) by writing excellent snippets. Advertisers can pay Snipcoin to increase visibility. Readers can tip writers with tokens and, if they choose, clear their feeds of advertisements for a small Snipcoin payment.
The whole system within the Snip ecosystem of news connects writer to reader directly, removing the risk of censorship and bias inherent in traditional news. Readers can control what they read and encourage writers they like. Meanwhile, writers can make legitimate income from generous readers. Additionally, Snip writers are tasked with making news quickly digestible, or a TLDR format if you will. Each story is limited in word count, so that readers can gain quick information on a variety of topics from one source. Rather than long-winded articles, Snip simply communicates news summaries, saving time for readers. Snip also has a machine learning algorithm that learns you and your preferences so the end result is highly relevant personalize genuine news feed.
Blockchain Can Also fix Social Media
According to a recent survey, as least 44% of Americans use Facebook as their main news source, and a stunning 59% get their news from Twitter. With this dependence on social media, consumers have witnessed a massive amount of fake news being indiscriminately spread on social media. The American and French elections gave rise to huge amounts of fake news publication, political mudslinging, and propaganda.
During election season, social media users are often inundated with fake news links from relatively upstanding sounding publication names, many of which prove to be false. Whether voters were right wing or left wing, they found their social news feeds full of articles they either disagreed with, or simply didn’t want their friends to know they had read. This systemic issue drove some forward-thinking technology buffs to consider possible solutions through the blockchain. The distributed nature of blockchains means that for news to be affirmed on a social site, it must be verified. Without verification, the fake news would simply cease being news and disappear, while real news would gain more readership.
A method to verify the news was the issue, of course, and technology teams have found new and interesting ways to do so. onG.social, for example, has created a social media dashboard that rewards real news with digital tokens (similar to cryptocurrency, think of these as rewards), given by users to other users who post the real news. Cryptocurrency can then be exchanged for fiat currency — dollars, pounds, euros, etc. Users can realistically make money by curating and sharing real news and rejecting fake ones. In today’s world, you don’t have rights to your own content and images. On.G Social’s mission is to change the paradigm to a state which social network users actually own their own data and get a chance to monetize it.
Giving Control Back to the Users
The main goal of social media was initially to provide users a platform for sharing, and as a better way of communicating directly with each other. In the final analysis, however, the major social media outlets have reneged on this promise, choosing instead to censor users and invade our privacy by collecting and selling our data to advertisers. Blockchain technology solves this issue through a censorship-resistant, peer-to-peer platform where users are able to share what they like, when they like, without centralized interference.
Through blockchain-based platforms, users have freedom in the content we share and how to share it, with the added ability of monetizing content through sharing. The work does not end there, however. Innovative companies are now raising capital in order to fight back against the broken system. onG.social, for one, is conducting an ICO to raise money to build on its technology and platform. Such digital crowdfunding activities are an emerging way to raise capital outside of the usual venture capital route.
What is the Future of Social and News?
Will Facebook, Twitter, Google and the online news gatekeepers go the way of print newspapers? Probably not in the near future, though few would’ve guessed the rapid decline of print newspapers. Regardless, though, Blockchain technology is already making inroads into both social and institutional news sources, creating new and better ways for consumers to find and enjoy content. The future of news consumption could one day be peer-to-peer, with a complete removal of centralized news gatekeepers. The die is certainly cast for just such a disruption.