Social media websites dominate Web2. From connecting with old friends to networking with new colleagues, billions of people use some form of social application every single day.
In Web3, social media will have at least the same importance – but it needs big improvements. From empowering users to control their own data to eliminating a lackadaisical approach to privacy, Web3 social can (and must) do better.
This article overviews the current landscape of Web3 social applications and how the Oasis Network can support the quintessential feature of every crypto-native social product: user data protection.
What is “SocialFi?”
Web3 culture means constantly adding the “Fi” suffix to every product category. So, social media in Web3 is often referred to as “SocialFi.” But, unlike “DeFi,” the social dApps in Web3 have less to do with finance and more to do with community.
At its core, the purpose of SocialFi is to represent a broad, amalgamated category of blended social and financialized applications that promote community, incentivize engagement, drive innovation and empower users in ways that Web2 social media simply does not.
This year, the latest SocialFi trend was set off by Friend.Tech, a gated chat room application built on Base, the Layer 2 protocol launched by Coinbase. Within weeks, the social dApp accumulated thousands of ether from fees, tens of thousands of new users, and millions of transactions. Friend.Tech also inspired competitors to launch on Avalanche, Mantle Network, Arbitrium and even Bitcoin.
Even in a bearish market environment, the SocialFi trend has gained momentum.
Why does SocialFi need privacy?
Privacy for SocialFi is needed because of the inherent nature of blockchains. Most blockchains are built to be public and transparent from the start so that anyone can access the entire history of transactions executed on a particular chain. But, this level of complete transparency becomes problematic when on-chain information is personal and sensitive, as is often the case with social media. This dilemma is called the Blockchain Privacy Paradox, and customizable confidentiality frameworks built by Oasis are the solution.
Web3 social applications also need robust privacy frameworks to hold a competitive edge over their Web2 competitors. Incumbent social media products are infamous for recklessly managing user data and affording minimal (if any) privacy to sensitive information. Simple queries on Google for social media data leaks yield dozens of results, but here’s a short list of high-profile instances.
- Twitter suffered a 2022 leak that affected 5.4 million users.
- LinkedIn suffered a 2021 leak that affected 700 million users.
- Twitch suffered a 2021 leak that affected 7 million users.
- Facebook suffered a 2019 leak that affected 533 million users
- Twitter suffered a 2018 leak that affected 330 million users.
- MySpace suffered a 2013 leak that affected 360 million users.
- Tumblr suffered a 2013 leak that affected 66 million users.
- LinkedIn suffered a 2012 leak that affected 165 million users.
These massive and inconceivably commonplace data leaks are exactly the problem that robust privacy frameworks integrated into SocialFi can solve.
How does Oasis help SocialFi?
Social applications are as important to the future of Web3 as they are in Web2, so building better, safer and more secure decentralized social media is essential. Oasis Sapphire specifically can facilitate a smoother, more intuitive transition to Web3 by supporting applications with elevated security, stronger user privacy and a familiar feel to experiences on Web2.
While Sapphire serves as an ideal foundation for Oasis-native dApps, developers on other blockchains can also integrate the Oasis Privacy Layer framework to leverage Oasis privacy into their SocialFi applications. From seamless privacy-centric developer features to seamless interoperability across multiple blockchain networks, Oasis builds industry-leading solutions to social privacy for Web3.
It’s also worth noting that while many products in Web3 are built to address small or hypothetical problems, the privacy problem in social media is a real and present issue that Oasis is addressing. In the Web3 social landscape, users should be able to choose what data can be accessed by third parties, what data is sold or bought and how their sensitive information is managed. Builders in the Oasis ecosystem are already working to solve these issues
With Sapphire and confidential smart contracts within the Oasis Network ecosystem, moreover, it becomes possible to develop smart contracts that can keep certain aspects of a user’s social activity hidden depending on set parameters. Just like Twitter or Facebook allow a post to be “visible” only to certain users, Web3 applications can make this visibility parameter apply throughout the entire social network stack, not just on the front-end interface.
What is the future of SocialFi?
Social applications can benefit massively from Web3, but the inverse is also true. Web3 adoption will grow exponentially from the creation of a killer social app with proper user incentives, a seamless creator experience, and robust data protection. The social frontier in crypto is vast and constantly evolving, but recent experiments in SocialFi have shown users will flock to applications with the right features, incentives and utility.
By empowering users to maintain control over their digital footprint while benefiting from personalized content recommendations, unique monetization features and smart privacy frameworks, social media can be a killer application for Web3.