Social Media and User Data: Hot Potato or Silver Bullet?

Why the future of Social Media and Digital Identity is decentralised

As a start-up entrepreneur, I have a lot of ideas. Like most people, I use technology as a means to share and store my intellectual property—whether I’m sharing via social media, storing on my phone, or searching in Google. My ideas (my data) will inevitably end up in a company’s cloud (i.e. Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon).

Big tech has also created ways to access our personal data by extending surveillance into our homes (i.e. Google and Amazon Home products). Continually, social media has made our online experience more “personal” by adding facial and voice recognition to their data collecting initiative.

Clearly, we are not in control of the data we share/store online. Instead, it goes straight into the hands of companies that are happily exploiting it—to make money, divide us, and dismantle our democracies.

Wake Up Call

The Cambridge Analytica election tampering scandal of March 2018 exposed how deplorable the Surveillance Capital business model had become and how irresponsible technology companies are with our data. Much like the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 exposed the recklessness of Oil and Gas companies, the Cambridge Analytica scandal made us aware of just how valuable, and vulnerable, our data really is.

Responsibility for user data is the next Internet battleground. Stewarding user data is becoming too expensive, and the fines are too egregious to make it worthwhile. The Surveillance Capital business model is collapsing under the weight of its obligations.

Social media companies are now meant to be moderators and publishers. Something has to give. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, admitted as much in a Tweet on December 11, 2019.

Jack Dorsey tweet

To the User belongs the Spoils

Don’t feel too sorry for Twitter and the rest of the big centralised technology companies.

Social media companies are their own worst enemy when it comes to safeguarding user data. The problems with user data — the ‘Hot Potato’ — are due to the possession and monetization of user data. Yet, nobody is asking users what they want? Big companies routinely make deals involving user data without asking users.

Users are starting to resent being left out of the dialogue. Every day there are more scandals prompting more users to demand control over their data. A resentment that has only one possible solution, self-sovereign data ownership.

You should make the data and you should own it, period.

Necessary Next Steps

Blockchain-based technologies like distributed ledger databases and asynchronous edge-networking are the key to solving the user data problem.

A decentralised Internet (Web 3.0) based on a network of self-sovereign, user-based nodes would solve the problems of user consent, and content moderation. It would also provide a future for social networking where users could have a self-sovereign digital identity.

Our personal data is extremely valuable. As individuals, we have to re-evaluate the way we distribute it. It’s time to take action and create an Internet that perpetuates inclusivity, balance, and user control. This is precisely why my team and I at Peer Social are building a technology that could free everyone from the cloud-based, data hungry hamster wheel.

In the very near future, everyone will insist on owning their own user data and every solution that does not offer self-sovereign authentication and self-sovereign data ownership will be dead.

Or a zombie because they’re dead and they just don’t know it yet.