Social Media Companies Are Not That Evil, *They* Started The Decentralization Of Media, Not Steem!

in #steemit6 years ago

News and media have come a long way towards decentralization. Steem claims to be the next step. To understand that, we must examine the current social media projects to determine where they have succeeded and where they have failed. Then, we can evaluate the achievements of Steem/Steemit?


Media and Knowledge Were Completely Centralized

In old civilizations, public media was controlled by the state. As a matter of fact, even knowledge was monopolized be the top few. Those few were the only people who mattered. the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle summarizes this eloquently:

The history of the world is but the biography of great men.

Major Steps Towards Decentralization


The first step towards the decentralization of knowledge was the printing press. This very important invention made books available to the masses. The second important step was newspapers, magazines, and TV networks. The next major step was, of course, the Internet. Although those were very important advancements, content and media creation were still monopolized by a small group of individuals and organizations.

Social Media Websites

The next step was the social media websites like Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Twitter. Some people consider them to be a symbol of centralization. I have to disagree. IMO, those platforms are semi-decentralized.

Those platforms have provided the opportunity to everyone to create and publish all sorts of media, a privilege only big networks had before. Because of those platforms, creativity has boomed exponentially in the last two decades. Those platforms have facilitated the decentralization of media creation and publishing.

In addition, they gave the consumer of media much more control. You decide which content to consume. You decide which content is better.


Time magazine celebrated this achievement by choosing You as the person of the year, in 2006. The following are some interesting quotes from that issue:

"In 2006, the World Wide Web became a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter".
"You control the media now, and the world will never be the same. Meet the citizens of the new digital democracy".
"The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution."

Content Monetization

Steem's most interesting feature is that it monetizes content. In fact, prides itself as:

"a blockchain-based rewards platform for publishers to monetize content and grow community."

But what does Content Monetization mean? Investopedia defines monetization as: "To monetize is to convert an asset or object into money or legal tender. Basically, it's the process of turning a non-revenue generating item into cash. The term "monetize" has different meanings depending on the context."

Based on that, we can define content monetization as the process of converting content into money.

So, was Steem the pioneer of content monetization? It seems not. Social media platforms have started that much earlier. Youtube, for example, has started sharing ads profits with content creators since 2007 through their Youtube Partner Program.

The Problem With Social Media Websites

However, the platform itself is centralized. Youtube, for example, has the absolute power to delete your content or deem it inappropriate and block it. The platform has the absolute power to decide which contents are suggested.

Moreover, most of the profit from ads displayed next to your content goes to the pocket of the platform. They decide if you get a portion of it, and they decide how small is that portion. For instance, Youtube has recently changed the rules, which made it much harder for content creators to make money on Youtube.

In short, social media platforms were successful in decentralizing the creation, publishing and consuming media, but the platform facilitating all that are still centralized.


What About Steem/Steemit?

Steem was created to advance the movement towards the decentralization of media one step further, at least this is what its founder claim. Was Steem/Steemit successful in achieving this goal? Is Steem really more decentralized than Youtube and Facebook? What about Wikipedia?

I am still researching these questions, and I would like to hear from you. Please tell me what you think in the comments below.


Thanks for the article and I can talk for hours about this particular topic because I live it and research it nearly every day. I think you leave out a critical factor in how the social networks are positioned. Facebook, Google and the rest had no intention in decentralizing content. Their only interest is in exploiting content for their own personal benefit. The only way they could do this was to allow as much content as they could get their hands on to be pumped through their platforms. They masquerade as a content dissemination focused platform but they never were and never can be. The content gets them eyeballs and data and that is it. You can ssee now Facebook has begun to pull back on the content it is allowing because of two reasons. 1 it is backfiring and governments are taking them to task for not caring about the quality of the content on its platform. 2. Their numbers have peaked and they will over the mid term go into decline just as Youtube has.

Remember facebook pays billions each year to house and disseminate that content. They will have to jusitfy those costs to investors. The first step is to limit what gets posted and how widely it is disseminated. Youtube is on the same path.

I make this distinction because the real question is "what is the platform designed to do?" Not what a company says it is designed to do. The existing social networks are designed to be data collectors. Anything else is coincidental or supportive of this agenda. They need to distribute the content widely, not to decentralize it but to gain market share.

In terms of Steemit, this will be an interesting ride for sure. The platform has great potential but a lot of challenges are up ahead. can they replace a lot of the low quality content with higher quality content? Will they be able to keep away the competition who is right now looking at its model and planning to launch ones that are more attractive to content creators?

Can it turn the corner and give people more of a reason for being here other than the promise of money which will never be met for the vast majority of people here? These are big questions that passion alone will not answer. it will need business acumen, vision and implementation.

Finally and this is important. Steemit will have many of the same issues as the current large social networks. Is is inevitable. They will have to put in strict rules, censor content and content creators, change many of their operating procedures, etc. The question is can they do what facebook ad google do not do and that is to fully involve the community in decision making. To me that is a critical decision that will partially determine the fate of Steemit.

Thank, @davidallenjones for the well-articulated comment.

I agree with you on that social media platforms' main goal is there own benefit and profit. However, the by-product that resulted was extraordinary. Moreover, not all mentioned platforms are for-profit. Wikipedia is a great example of a platform that helped in decentralizing knowledge creation, distribution, and consumption.

As for Steem, I agree with questions asked by my friend @bbilgin. I have a feeling that you need to learn more about Steem.

Thanks and wikepdia is amazing but is it a social media platform? Wikipedia is meant to be a library of facts that is not really open to social interaction or interference. I would not group it with facebook and youtube. But it is amazing. . I appreciate your comment and I am so active here because I want to learn all I can. I commented on @bbilgin post below.

Thanks @sadekj and @davidallenjones for your inputs. got some really cool perspective from both of you. thanks for starting the discussion.

Good points in general. I just have a few question marks.

They will have to put in strict rules, censor content and content creators,

Why would they have to do it? Isn't the flagging by the users not enough? Doesn't this supposed to happen via community decisions via upvotes and flags?

The question is can they do what facebook ad google do not do and that is to fully involve the community in decision making.

Don't they do this already?

Thanks for the questions. Time has proven that the community is too often an unreliable judge of things on a social network. This is partially because people see things so differently and because most people are just not fair, they want their way. Regardless of if it is right or wrong. That is how we have been trained on social media. It can change but there needs to be an intent to change it. what is the incentive on Steemit. why should I care if justice happens or not? There has to be independent ethics that hold people to a "center" if not you get a mob not a community. And censoring content is required legally/. The more a platform will grow the more it will have to censor. I do not say that this is negative. I don't know if it will be or not.

Steemit has a group that decides the rules here. I am not consulted. Are you? Who decides how much Steem is mined or how quickly and the rules for your reputation increasing or decreasing. Who decides what behavior is allowed and not? Who will decide whether to slow down payments (when the time comes), and by how much? This is just a small set of the important issues that are now in the control of a small group. I am not saying this group is evil or incompetent only that it is not the community. It is a government.

Just my thoughts. I expanded on a few in my latest post. Have a read if you are inclined. Part 1 talks about the existing social networks and part two below talks a bit further about Steemit. Please keep in mind I am learning as well so my thoughts will change as i learn more. thanks

To be completely honest, the abject narcissism has become too much to bear... everyone thinks that they're a celebrity and tries so hard to advertise an interesting life with photos and status updates. I hope Instagram dies next, it is pure cancer.

Thank you, @shahan.
I agree. Increasing narcissism is a clear product of social media. But maybe we shouldn't look at the dark side only. right?

Frankly, I'm not bothered by the narcissism on social media. I simply unfollow those people. In some cases, I stop following the whole platform, as in Facebook and Instagram.

Sure, there are some interesting stuff on Facebook and Instagram, but the noise to signal ratio is so low, it's not worth my time anymore.

Great post! It puts everything in perspective. And to be honest, I haven't thought about this perspective before, printing press, social media, and Steemit. This makes sense.

Was Steem/Steemit successful in achieving this goal?

It's a good step towards the right direction. That's for sure. But still a lot has to be done.

I think Steemit has to take some good aspects of "traditional" social media, such as serving relevant content to users, using machine learning. YouTube and Medium are doing a great job on that.

Is Steem really more decentralized than YouTube and Facebook?

I think so. There are at least more than one whale.

What about Wikipedia?

Wikipedia was indeed the first example of this movement. As a result, it got banned in some countries. Steemit has some advantages over Wikipedia, because of the inclusion of the financial aspect. That financial aspect has its disadvantages too. I think that would be a topic of a post that I'd like to write soon.

Great post! Resteemed.

Thank you, @bbilgin for the thoughtful comments.

I think that would be a topic of a post that I'd like to write soon.

I look forward to reading it.

To hear the speech version of this post click the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvote this reply.

Thank you, @tts. You have a nice service there. Upvoted.
In fact, I will upvote every time you convert one of my posts into speech format.

I wouldn't say that the social media platforms "aren't that evil." To say that, you are missing their long term intent. Their long term intent is certainly not about providing platforms for free speech even if that is what they may promote. The intent of most of them has always been to create Trojan horses and Pied Piper movements.

This is the same as with cryptocurrencies. People are joining because it looks like it's a fundamental change, but the end goal of the monied elite is not more freedom.. that's just the bait. The real goal is to ensnare as many people as possible in a trap where everyone is monitored and controlled in a full on Orwellian, dystopian future. It's also to enslave people with mindless addictions that they can be further controlled with.

Hey, @newsandviews. That is a very dark view of the situation IMO.
Social media platforms have definitely increased free speech in the world. That's undeniable.

It's not dark; it's reality. Most social media is owned by a Luciferian elite. If you don't know what that is, then you need to do some more research. Start by reading my blog. You'll find plenty there. This is why Google and YouTube are censoring everyone that isn't a closet communist at the moment. Their plan is to get people dependent on them and then shut down any real dialog. Add to this that most social media is superficial banter that speaks in soundbites and is intended to addict people (Really.. do a search on this regarding Facebook), then you realize that the vast majority of it is designed to control and not to empower or liberate people. And just to be clear, the Internet is more than just social media and I'm happy to admit that the Internet has allowed a hell of a lot of free speech, but social media is a whole 'nother beast altogether.

Have a read of my latest post on Google and get the drift of what is really going on:

Really important point you caught. This is much true social media platforms were successful in decentralizing the creation, publishing and consuming media, but the platform facilitating all that are still media are moderated. They wanted to give value to the curator. Steemit, YouTube channel etc one of them. Excellent post you have shared. I like your blog. Thanks a lot

I am glad that you liked it, @pariza.
I like your comment. You have summarized the entire post with it.

While it's true that the other platforms started the journey towards decentralization. They shot themselves in the foot by being too tyrannical.

Steemit gives a fresher, more positive look in the social media sphere.
It has it's issues here and there, but between posting content here and giving it to FascistBook.
I'd rather post it here.

Thank you, @jacksondavies for sharing your thoughts.
How do you know for sure that Steem would not become like Facebook after some time? After all, Facebook did not start like this. right?

That's true. Some folks here are using the flagging function as a means of censorship.

Let's hope it doesn't deteriorate to the Facebook level.

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