Social data on-chain?! Building the future of social networks in web3
March 23rd, 2022

Blockchains are immutable and public, so we must be careful about the data stored on them. Social networks are the next opportunity for web3, but given their different data storage requirements only limited data should be stored directly on-chain.

Two types of social networks are relevant to what we’re building at Seam: Social Media and Influencer Media. Each serves a different audience with different expectations around data privacy, and both deserve to be thoughtfully distinguished in application design.

Social Media Platforms are used to connect to people you know in real life: your friends, your business partners, your family, and others close to you. You likely don't expect to go viral or make money from your posts, you'd just like to keep in touch with people you already know. Web2 examples are Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp, private Instagram accounts, and LinkedIn.

Influencer Media Platforms are the platforms where you expect to go viral and get monetized. By posting content, you expect global distribution. Examples include Youtube, Tiktok, Twitter, Twitch, OnlyFans, ect. Notably, there is a reduced/no expectation of privacy on Influencer Media platforms, because you want everyone to see your content.

Social Data is your content on social media: the posts, the photos, and your friendships. It is likely personal and stuff you wouldn't want any stranger just being able to look up. You also aren't expecting to make any money from posting social data, because the purpose is to connect with people you care about.
Web3 proponents often conflate Social Media with Influencer Media which is an oversimplification. While putting audiences on-chain has the potential to make Influencer Media more equitable, it will be disastrous when applied to Social Media.

There are different expectations around content types: influencer media is meant to be seen by everyone, while social media is only meant to be seen by people you choose. Given that blockchains are public, social data should not be on chain. When building a new Social Media Platform, we must think carefully about what data is being stored on chain. Illustrating the nuance is important to avoid using the wrong tools inadvertently.

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