Over the past year, the word Blockchain has become a common part of human vocabulary. It originally began as the tech behind cryptocurrency transfers and exchanges but is now spidering out into thousands of other sectors.

Its secure and reliable nature is making it a solid way for companies to record monetary transactions and provide a more equal platform for buyers and sellers.

But how does that translate into the fast-changing and addictive world of social media? Can the tamper-proof possibilities of blockchain work for social media?

Mull this over for a moment: teens today spend about nine hours a day chatting with their friends online via social channels. But it’s not just the younger generation – Gen Xers regularly log on too, more so than Millennials in fact.

It’s safe to say that many of us don’t quite grasp just how much social media has an impact on our daily lives.

Think about the first thing you do in the morning when your alarm wakes you up. If you automatically reach for your phone and scroll through your latest notifications, you’re not alone – not by a long shot. This is the go-to morning activity for the majority of people. Our thumbs wander to the Facebook or Instagram or Twitter icon before we’ve even opened our eyes properly.

And, thankfully for those of us who’s first moments of the day are dictated by who said what to us where, most social media channels are free to use.

Let me rephrase that: they’re free to use in the monetary sense. Instead, we pay for them in other ways; with our data and, ultimately, with our identities. This is where it all gets a little Black Mirror.

The Recent Social Media Struggles

If you’ve been following the recent scandals (Facebook, we’re looking at you), you’ll know that social platforms have run a big drive to banish any fake news articles and false accounts. The insecure nature of social media channels means anyone can set up an account and start posting any old thing.

This is where blockchain might be able to swoop in and save the day.

The technology behind blockchain has the power to stop fake news from ever getting out there in the first place because it follows a strict verification process. It will be able to automatically check identities, verify information shared, and scan data collected from any social media platform.

Okay, great. But how does this benefit social media?

Users Will Claw Back Control of Their Data

We can all agree that social media platforms collect a mammoth amount of data. Every time you log on, post something, share something, like something, click an ad, or search for something, that information is collected and consolidated to give you a more personalized experience.

It’s why we see so many relevant ads in our news feeds.

Ever Googled something on the web only for it to keep showing up on your Facebook homepage?

That’s the power social media has to tap into what it thinks you like and serve you more of that – it’s essentially a ploy to keep you sticking around.

With blockchain technologies, platform providers will have less power to collect and use consumer data. It does this through the concept of decentralization, which is a distributed ledger.

Transactions (including communications between people on social platforms and content shared there) are completely transparent through this ledger as they have to be verified by members of the network. This therefore makes it pretty tricky to change and manipulate data without others on the network detecting foul play.

The decentralization of blockchain technologies also mean that no singular organization can dictate how things are run – which can only be a good thing when the likes of Facebook keep changing the goal posts to suit the people who spend the most money there.

Compensation for User Activity

A private ledger doesn’t just mean verifying identities and information, it also gives companies the chance to track user interaction with content.

Think about how many memes or videos go viral every day without any attribution to the person who originally made them. With blockchain technologies, social media platforms will be able to actively quantify the value a user has put out there and they’ll be able to get compensated for it.

Carter Wilkinson posted one of the most retweeted and liked Tweets ever. He didn’t get any reward for such a well-shared statement though.

According to research, Facebook made more than $9.32 billion in advertising revenue last year, but its everyday users (the people that keep it going) got absolutely none of that.

A happy marriage between blockchain and social media could mean that users start to see benefits from using certain platforms (there’s only so much joy a notification can bring).

From Product to Power

Some developers have already started to uncover the power of using blockchain for social media, with a number of startups emerging that offer decentralized messaging platforms and digital hangout spaces.

In the current social media landscape, the power is completely in the hands of the platform owners of sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but introducing blockchain into the mix could quickly change that.

Rather than being just data points, blockchain-run social media sites will give the power back to the people, potentially changing how social media sites are leveraged forever.

This will be particularly true if these new startups shift towards decentralized networks, which will offer much better privacy and security for users, as well as the chance to have better control over their content and potentially get compensated for any valuable contributions.

Social media is a huge part of our lives, so much so that we’re happy to hand over parts of our identity just to log in and use it.

The industry is going nowhere fast, but there’s opportunity for it to tilt more in favor of its users than the multimillion-dollar platform owners, if blockchain technologies are leveraged.

We’re already starting to see some popular platforms pop up that run on decentralized networks, so it’ll be fascinating to see what kind of platforms we’ll be logging into this time next year.