Decentralized Social on Polkadot (1): Project Liberty, Subsocial, and Sumi

PolkaWorld
6 min readNov 25, 2022

Elon Musk finally completed his acquisition of Twitter recently and tweeted about his intention to set the “bird” free. In a chat with former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Musk made clear his intention to use blockchain technology for Twitter. All of this seems to suggest that Twitter, a social media giant with over 200 million daily users, could become more decentralized in the future.

Decentralized social media is not a new concept. Back in 2019, Twitter announced that it would fund the development of a decentralized social media standard, a project that later ran independently as Bluesky, which launched a social protocol called the “AT Protocol,” on which the Bluesky App, a decentralized social app based on the protocol, will soon be available.Why do we need to decentralize social media?

The drawbacks of centralized social media

Today’s social platforms are a far cry from the original intent of the Internet.

The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, published in 1996, states: “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere, can express their beliefs without fear of being forced into silence or conformity, no matter how peculiar that belief may be …… We will create a civilization of the mind in the internet. May she be more humane and just than the world your government has previously created.”

Yet, today’s cyberspace is disappointing — a few centralized giants have a monopoly on social networks and platforms have become data silos; platforms unilaterally hold the traffic and recommendation algorithms and profit by pushing precise ads to users; user data is stored in centralized clouds and data breaches continue to occur ……

The vision of decentralized social media

Decentralized social is also an important part of the Web3 movement. If BTC brings freedom of currency, DeFi brings freedom of finance, and NFT brings freedom of art and culture, then decentralized social platforms may bring us freedom of communication, discussion and expression.

Decentralized social networks are user-centric, not platform-centric. Users should be able to control their own content and data, and be free to choose the service provider.

Decentralized social media should be a protocol, not a company. Email, for example, is an agreement. You can use Gmail, your friend uses QQ, and you can easily send messages to each other, even though you use different user interfaces.

Similarly, decentralized social networks are built on blockchains, where the social graphs of shared users can be stored in decentralized storage systems like Filecoin, Arwave, etc. On top of these common infrastructures, many different user interfaces or apps can be built, and different apps can communicate with each other, just like Email.

Decentralized Social in Dostama Eco

Project Liberty

In May, Project Liberty announced that it would work with Parity to develop a Layer 1 parachain as the first large-scale implementation of its decentralized social networking protocol, DSNP.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgPZnOulBCE

A conversation between Gavin Wood and Frank McCourt, founder of Project Liberty

Project Liberty is a comprehensive project with the goal of advancing decentralized social and creating a more equitable Internet, including technologies, governance and activities such as the media and culture organization “Unfinished” and the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) . DSNP is an open source protocol that will create a shared social graph, so that social networks are no longer dependent on an application or centralized platform.

Every social media outlet relies on the social graph, which is essential for communication such as likes, comments, retweets, and private messages. In traditional social media, the social graph is controlled by each platform and is the core asset on which the platform relies to cash in through advertising.

Project Liberty believes that a public social graph completely divorced from financial incentives is a critical infrastructure for decentralized social networks, and DSNP is working toward that goal. DSNP is built on TCP/IP and HTTPS to facilitate a secure, open source, universally accessible social graph, independent of any financial incentives, decoupling financial incentives from the core protocol.

DSNP, as an open source public protocol, wants to focus its functionality as much as possible, going for only the most core functions that are essential for liberating the social graph. Some other functions, such as content review, management, and presentation, are best addressed outside of the protocol, such as through services and applications that are higher up in the technology stack, and most such activities should take place off-chain.

On September 20, social network “MeWe” announced the integration of DSNP as the infrastructure for its decentralized social network. with 20 million users worldwide and 600,000 user-driven interest groups, MeWe has always emphasized user privacy and is committed to giving users control over their data and social experience, rather than the platform manipulating or exaggerating content. The integration of DSNP is a step toward that goal.

Subsocial

Subsocial is a decentralized social networking protocol built on Polkadot and IPFS. Earlier this year, Subsocial successfully won Kusama’s 16th Slot Auction and became a Kusama ParaChain.

The Subsocial protocol is a set of Substrate modules and web front-end that users can use to create their own decentralized censorship-resistant social networks (spaces). So Subsocial is not a social media like Twitter, but a platform for creating social media, and there can be several different social networks running on Subsocial.

As mentioned earlier in centralized social platforms advertising is the most common way to cash in, with the platform capturing most of the benefits and sharing only a small portion of the revenue to the creators. subsocial take advantage of blockchain technology for social finance “SoFi”, providing content creators with multiple means of cashing in with the “Web3 feature “ .

  • Tips: posts, spaces and comments can be rewarded, and the reward amount will go directly to the creator’s account, without sharing with the platform
  • Subscriptions: Paid subscriptions
  • Sell/Rent content: Creators own the content and can sell or rent the content to other spaces as NFT
  • Social token: Each space can have its own social token, allowing fans to co-own the space and participate in the governance of the space

In Web2 social platform, users do not own the platform. In Subsocial, the creator of a space can own the space himself. Each space is like a DAO and can have its own treasury. Users with social token can decide the direction of the space and share the advertising revenue of the space.

Subsocial also gives the power of content review to each space; Subsocial does not censor or block content at the chain level, but each space can specify its own content rules . The community can remove certain content that involves scams and harmful information by electing reviewers, or decide together how to block content that is not welcomed by the community.

Apps currently built on the Subsocial protocol include the eponymous Subsocial Social Network App, the decentralized identity SubID.

Sumi

Sumi is a Substrate-based wallet-to-wallet communication system ,the Web3 version of Email, more secure and decentralized.

Sumi allows communication between any two blockchain wallets and will initially support wallets from the Dotsama ecosystem, and will soon support wallet address types from the Ethereum ,Bitcoin and Solana ecosystems .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gxnno7ydL7Y&t=28s

16:20

PolkaWorld Interview with Sumi Network CEO — David Rhodus

Postscript

Social is an important area where Web3 might improve, and blockchain technology might help the Internet get back to its original heart. Admittedly this is an ambitious goal, but it has been attracting great minds to work towards it — from Jack Dorsey to Elon Musk, and Gavin Wood.

When Gavin stepped down as CEO of Parity a while back, he blogged “I’ll be pointing my regained focus towards exploring how we can contribute to making Polkadot and Web3 more relevant to large swathes of the population. This will begin by helping the community design and build several interesting chain-integrated social primitives which I think are crucial for us to deliver a true Web3 platform.”

About PolkaWorld

PolkaWorld is a Polkadot global community founded in 2019. We have gathered more than 40,000 Polkadot enthusiasts, and have always been committed to spreading Polkadot knowledge, training Substrate developers, and supporting Polkadot/Kusama ecosystem.

Twitter: @polkaworld_org.

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