In a previous post titled “The Evolution of Social Media,” I took a trip through some of the historical highlights of social media beginning in the 1990s and touched on some of the current social media projects involving blockchains. What I didn’t do in that post is give a comprehensive list of blockchain-based social media websites that are currently, or soon to be, operating. That’s what today’s post is.
It’s significant to point out that many of these social media projects on the various blockchains are a response to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. If not directly, then indirectly. Even the projects that were kicked off prior to that event, such as Steemit, are a response to the centralized approach to the social media that has dominated online media since Archie Like Indexing gave information seekers the first centralized search engine for the Web. You can get the lowdown on that at Wikipedia.
I don’t claim the following list to be comprehensive, and certainly not exhaustive. What I have attempted to do is find as many blockchain-based social media projects that are currently operating or soon-to-operating as I could find. Some of these may not have launched yet. They could be in the ICO, pre-ICO, or post-ICO stage, but there are some projects that claim to be social that I’m leaving out.
My intent here is to list the sites whose core function is social. That is, they fall into what is commonly called “social media” or “social networking.” In the age of decentralization, you’ll find plenty of projects that try to include a social component but where that component is not the central feature of the platform. For instance, the Qbao Network is a cross-chain digital wallet with social features. The Mixin Messenger is a messenger app that exists within the larger framework of a peer-to-peer digital asset transaction platform. I could easily list other decentralized blockchain projects that include a social component but that are not inherently social or where the social component is not central to the business model, but that list is probably longer than the world’s longest train track. I’ll forego all of that.
At this juncture of blockchain technology development, there are many projects that simply don’t have the staying power to survive the next shakeup. I’m not concerned about that here. If I heard about a site and couldn’t find a website for it, it’s not included in this list. If there is currently a Web home for the project and its core function is social, it’s included. What happens after this post is published is beyond me.
Now, without further ado, I give you 31 social networks that utilize a blockchain (or cryptocurrency).
Let’s start with pure social networking. This is your ordinary social media website, no specialization, just a catch-all category that most social networks of any stripe can fit into.
1. Steemit – We’ll start with the daddy of them. Steemit isn’t the first social network to hop on a blockchain, but it is the largest. The blockchain is called Steem and Steemit is the social networking website dapp that sits on top of it. It’s pretty basic. Self-defined as like Reddit, you see a white screen with a terrible user interface for posting your blog posts, but since Steemit was one of the first to market, they’ve got an advantage over everyone else. You can earn author rewards and curation rewards for the content you post, upvote, and resteem, as well as for comments you make on other Steemians’ posts. They’ve been in steady traffic decline for the past year and currently have a global Alexa rank of 4,689.
2. Trybe – Still within its first year, Trybe sits on the EOS blockchain. Interestingly, its front end is built on WordPress. That’s okay, but WordPress is open source and not altogether secure. I’ve run my websites on it for over a decade. It is subject to being hacked despite being the leader among content management systems. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to log into my Trybe account and found out the platform had been hacked. The currency portion of the website, however, is on the blockchain and was entirely secure. As far as I know, no one lost any value though I couldn’t log into my account for a few hours until they fixed it.
3. Narrative – Narrative is a promising up-and-coming site that sits on the NEO blockchain. Organized around Niches, which Narrators can buy or be nominated to moderate (Niche owners and moderators earn rewards for their roles), content creators choose three of these Niches to post into when they create their personal journal entries. Currently in alpha, I look forward to seeing how Narrative rolls out into beta, scheduled for April 2, 2019. Meanwhile, there has been a few controversies on the platform, all of which are minor against the big picture.
4. Minds – Minds calls itself “The Crypto Social Network.” The site launched in 2015, which makes it the first blockchain-based social media site to go live, as far as I know. Minds sits on the Ethereum blockchain and its token is an ERC-20 token. Users can blog, check their newsfeed, participate in groups, chat on a messenger app, post photos and videos, and play in channels. Its global Alexa rank is 11,030. I honestly don’t know why it’s not more popular than it is.
5. SoMee – SoMee used to be called onG. Now, the currency is onG and the website is SoMee. It isn’t live yet and there’s no information on the website. If you click on the Facebook icon, which should take you to a Facebook page, you’ll get a message saying the app is still in development mode.
6. HyperSpace – This looks similar to Narrative. Users create spaces and invite others to join those communities, and get paid in the native currency for creating the content around those communities. Global Alexa rank = 396,014.
7. Mastodon – Mastodon promises ad-free content in a feed that is “non-algorithmic.” That should sit real well for the anti-Facebook crowd. I haven’t used it, but it looks a lot like Hootsuite. Users can post content up to 500 characters. Users can develop apps for the platform, as well, but I see no way to earn rewards for your content. Global Alexa rank = 78,661.
8. Sociall – Sociall’s tagline is “We’ve reimagined social media.” They launched in Q1 2018, so they’re young compared to Steemit and Minds. With their own token on the Ethereum blockchain, their aim is to decentralize social media and let the community govern the platform. That’s a lot like Narrative, but that’s where the similarities end. They include instant messaging, a blog for users, crowdfunding, and a “Facebook migration tool.” I like the sound of that, but I haven’t used the platform so I have no idea how it works. Their Alexa traffic pattern looks like a roller coaster ride.
9. WhaleShares – WhaleShares has its own blockchain and was created by Steemit whale @officialfuzzy, who is also co-founder of BitShares. Regular users of Steemit understand how the platform has been plagued by bidbots since almost from the beginning. Many people have left the platform for that reason. WhaleShares has become popular among many Steemians who want a fairer shake in rewards for authoring and curating content. One of its most unique and interesting features is the ability to buy a whale vote on Steemit or Golos. Its Global Alexa rank is 128,741. It’s very popular in Spain, India, the U.S., and Nigeria. This is one to keep an eye on.
10. Global Social Chain – Calling itself the world’s first social chain, they also claim to be the largest social media networking platform in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Their Global Alexa rank has plummeted by nearly 2 million users in the last three months, so that doesn’t look so good.
I’m not into mobile messaging, probably because of my age, but my personal preference for sharing content is where I can let my brain fly like an eagle. Mobile and instant messaging doesn’t comport well with that goal, so maybe if I was a millennial, I’d still prefer blogging and content curation. Nevertheless, WhatsApp and Snapchat have proven there is a market here. I’ve found three solid instant and mobile messaging apps on a blockchain.
11. Ono – Calling itself a “decentralized blockchain network,” Ono also claims to be the largest decentralized autonomous community. Sitting on the EOS blockchain, the mainnet has yet to launch. Creators and curators earn rewards based on their content, voting, and commenting on other users’ content. While there are other components to Ono, the instant messaging component is considered a part of its “fundamental ecosystem.” Its Global Alexa rank is 958,076, though it has declined considerably in the last eight months.
12. Obsidian – Currently in alpha, Obsidian is a proof-of-stake blockchain with a messaging app. The app claims to be an “anonymous, encrypted communications application.”
13. ADAMANT – Like Obsidian, ADAMANT was developed in 2017. Its blockchain uses a distributed proof-of-state consensus mechanism and thus far has not gained much traction.
These blockchain-based social networking platforms are akin to non-blockchain social media that target a specific specialization–like LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest.
14. SocialX – A community for posting photos and video content. I’m not impressed.
15. Sapien – What’s not to like about a social media platform that invites you to “take back your social experience?” This social news platform allows users to control their own data, rewards curators, and “fights fake news.” Their SPN token sits on Ethereum. They have a nice looking website and their Global Alexa rank is 496,131. Most of that appears to be India.
16. Sola – In beta, Sola claims to be “social media without stress,” a place you can “enjoy without getting tired.” That sounds like a joke to me, but I’m not sure where the punchline is. The site’s fairly attractive, but it looks like a Minds knockoff. Their cryptocurrency, SOL, is an ERC-20 token, and they’re proud of their upcoming airdrop. I put Sola in the specialized category because users see content in cards delivered to them through an artificial intelligence algorithm. I haven’t used the network, but that sounds interesting. Their Global Alexa rank is 128,277.
17. Indorse – Indorse is a LinkedIn-like social platform that allows users to validate each other’s skills. That’s an interesting concept, for sure, and I’m tempted to try it out. The Global Alexa rank is 455,730.
18. PROPS Project – A video sharing platform, plain and simple. I think it needs a better name, but it’s endorsed by YouTube sensation Phil DeFranco, so what do I know? I do like some of the features. Props includes a downloadable mobile app and a game show app. Content creators and curators earn rewards without intrusive advertisers getting a share. I hope this one succeeds, however, current traffic numbers don’t look too good.
19. LBRY – LBRY calls itself a “media network.” I was intrigued enough to download this desktop app, but I haven’t done anything with it. Still, the idea is there, and they appear to be quite popular. Their Global Alexa rank is 55,560. Most of it appears to be in the U.S. Creators can participate in a YouTube Partner Program and a 3D printing program.
20. DelegateCall – A question-and-answer website that pays tokens for asking and answering questions. That’s pretty straightforward. Don’t leave Quora yet, but this one has promise. It operates on Ethereum and Loom Network. Their Global Alexa rank is 449,950.
21. Smoke Network – Cannabis lovers now have their own social network on a blockchain. They use the delegated proof-of-stake mechanism on the Steem blockchain. Attractive site, get lit. Okay, bad joke. Their Global Alexa rank is 405,267.
When you’re the front runner in any contest, you’ll undoubtedly have copycats. That’s a compliment. In this case, since Steemit is open source, anyone can take the Steemit code and create their own knockoff, and many have. These are not the only sites that are based on Steemit, but these are the ones I find most interesting and/or that show a little promise–besides Smoke Network.
22. Bearshares – I’m not sure where this name came from (why not Bullshares?). You land on the site and it looks very much like Steemit. Nearly identical, but more attractive. Same concept as Steemit. Why would I use it? Most of their user base is in Nigeria.
23. Golos – Here’s another obvious Steemit knockoff. Based in Russia, most of their user base is in Russia, but they are also popular in Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Their Global Alexa rank is 53,866.
24. Serey – Based in Cambodia, they seem to be more popular in Bangladesh.
25. Dtube – Dtube is a video sharing platform based on the Steem blockchain. Users earn rewards for posting and sharing their videos and upvoting and commenting on others’ videos.
26. DLive – DLive is a video live streaming platform that started on the Steem blockchain but has since jumped off chain and onto the Lino blockchain. Their Global Alexa rank is 21,145. In Turkey, they’re ranked 536, well above the U.S. where they are ranked 10,297.
27. WeKu – WeKu is another Steemit alternative with its own blockchain. Based on the Steemit and Graphene frameworks, it utilizes the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and InterPlanetary File System to create a truly decentralized content network. They call themselves a “blockchain-based SaaS community platform with rewards.” WeKu has some unique features including a way for content creators to sell their works and license their works to others, and users can create and manage groups. On Steemit, many of these types of social features take place in Discord. On WeKu, they are baked into the platform. I’ve been resistant to trying WeKu even though it is popular among Steemians, but I may have to give it a try. As I get more familiar with it, I like what I see. Their Global Alexa rank is 187,404. They are most popular in the U.S., but they have respectable user bases in Nigeria, Colombia, India, and Canada. They launched last summer.
These two platforms are Chinese-based platforms where the language is a bit confusing. I can clearly see that social networking is a primary component of the platforms, but I’m not sure what to make of them. That could be a translation issue, or it could just be a difference in how the Chinese view their media.
28. TTC Protocol – The TTC Protocol isn’t so much a social network as it is a protocol for connecting various other social networks. It includes a blockchain and a token, and users are able to build dapps. That’s about all I can understand from this, but it looks interesting.
29. QunQun – QunQun describes itself as a blockchain-based social community platform. That simply means users can create Twitter-like communities that are independent of each other and are incentivized to interact with each other. It’s an interesting concept, but I’m not sure how well it flies. It doesn’t seem to be popular anywhere.
When legacy players begin adopting new technologies, you know that startups are onto something. However, they don’t usually do as well as the startups who use the technology natively. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that two non-blockchain-based social media sites are now using cryptocurrency within their frameworks.
30. Kin – Social media app Kik launched its own cryptocurrency in 2017. Named Kin, the token can be used for payments and transfers between a variety of apps and sits on the Ethereum blockchain. Ranked 165 on CoinMarketCap, its market cap is a little over 17.5 million.
31. Facebook – Facebook sparked some interest last month when they announced they were buying a blockchain startup. Now they’re talking about their own cryptocurrency. It looks like they’re planning to use it with WhatsApp, the messaging app they paid big money for in 2014, for money transfers in India. This might seem innocuous, but if this experiment works for Facebook, I would not be surprised to see them incorporate their cryptocurrency into their advertising model on the Facebook platform. And who knows where else they could go with it?
Not only is it big news that Facebook is looking at its own cryptocurrency, but this is a big step for the Internet. Since Facebook competes with Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft on several levels, this should ramp up the competition among the Internet’s largest companies and move cryptocurrencies closer to being widely accepted as a secure and trusted payment method. But that’s a huge digression from the purpose of this blog post. With 31 social networks currently or soon-to-be operating on blockchains, and many of them in growth mode, I think we have a lot to look forward to with this new technology.
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