Strict editorial control may have its benefits, but it is rarely unbiased. Audiences that face a flow of slanted information from a centralized outlet are not likely to get a full picture of a story.
This state of affairs is widely criticized as a threat to true freedom of speech, especially in authoritarian nations where media are commonly used to implement propagandist agenda. Extensive usage of social networks by media and public figures effectively follows the same pattern.
An alternative decentralized environment might become the way to obtain more impartial information based on a manifold of independent opinions.
For numerous up-and-coming companies, Blockchain offers a chance to implement an independent and decentralized media outlet while providing the means for distributed data storage, transparent incentive models, and community moderation.
Decentralized Social Networks
Currently there are only a handful of viable products in this area, though there have been numerous attempts to build such a platform. For instance, sharing and tipping platform CoinAwesome went silent after two failed crowdsale attempts.
Blockchain-based social network Minds.com that sought to “take on Facebook” didn’t get much attention either; a Q&A reputation-driven system Reveal has gained initial traction, but withered away as well in the wake of unpleasant issues with users’ cryptocurrency accounts.
In most cases, when it comes to creating a decentralized Blockchain-powered media, it results in creation of a social network of some sort.
There are some notable examples of projects that seek to build a working decentralized social environment using Blockchain-powered solution. Some of them are already operational, while others are still under development or seeking funding through ICO’s and token sales.
One of the most remarkable examples in this area is Steemit, which has been operational for more than a year. It is a system built around community-driven posting, evaluation, and curation of content, based on the Steem Blockchain.
While the “traditional” social media outlets extract value from their audience for their own benefit, Steemit distributes the benefits of so-called “attention economy” among its participants.
The system rewards users for posts and content curation: users upvote posts they like, upvoted posts get popular, authors of the popular posts and users who upvoted them get STEEM token rewards. Steemit also employs a logarithmic reputation system, in which every member has a score that represents their individual contribution to the platform and its community.
Japan boasts its own local initiative called Alis, which is somewhat similar to Steemit. The service enables users to consume reliable information from experts, post articles and receive rewards in ALIS tokens for trustworthy and valuable content.
All submissions are evaluated by the community; members click the like button to upvote the articles they enjoy and find credible. Authors of highly rated materials gain token rewards, recognition and trust from community members. The project is currently raising funds for further development and is focused mostly on the Japanese community.
Content distribution platforms
Another effort in decentralization of media is the DECENT Network. Unlike Alis and Steemit, which are essentially social networks, DECENT is a Blockchain-based content distribution platform that ensures invariant storage of published materials and eliminates any intermediaries along with their potential influence and distribution fees.
The network can be used to publish any sort of media: music, programming code, video, images, books, etc. DECENT’s native DCT token is used to facilitate media assets trading. DCT token awards also incentivize network nodes to store content and verify new blocks with metadata and transactions. The network provides its members with a transparent, trustless and decentralized environment to store, consume and monetize original media content.
One more notable specimen is the Synereo project, a middle ground between DECENT and social media platforms like Steemit. It is a decentralized social network aiming to provide its users with the tools to monetize their original content or good taste in content curation.
The system is built on a Blockchain 2.0 employing Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm. The native AMP token serves as a measurement of users’ interest in the particular submission and as an incentive to exchange information.
An interesting post may be sponsored by its author or grateful readers who leave AMP tokens as tips. Authors of popular posts get a share of the tokens invested into their posts as a reward. For advertisers who use Synereo platform to promote their product, AMP tokens provide both the leverage to reach wider audiences and a reliable performance indicator.
Finally, there is Snip, a project which deviates from the obvious social media-focused trend and builds a decentralized news outlet. It provides a decentralized environment for user-generated news, free of any censorship and editorial control over the published material.
Every user of the platform is able to write and post concise stories on any desired topic and access a personalized newsfeed tailored to their individual preferences. The system employs so-called SnipCoin as an incentive for authors to submit relevant content, while giving readers the means to express their gratitude to contributors of interesting stories.
Since community feedback directly influences the popularity of the story in question and its author’s welfare, users are encouraged to submit only interesting and unbiased news.
Media today is headed towards decentralization. This trend manifests itself in the growing number of new companies that employ Blockchain technology, and may result in tokenization of existing media businesses. Even though most attempts at a decentralized media outlet are not fully developed yet, this trend seems to be positive.
It’s likely that at least one decentralized media platform will gain significant traction, so old-school centralized outlets and clickbait media may eventually be forced to adapt to the changing landscape. Otherwise they risk becoming obsolete in the decentralized society of tomorrow.