Amid a growing backlash against the incumbent giants of social media, blockchain-based platforms are working to offer people ambitious alternatives.
One such platform, the embryonic Revolution Populi led by former Goldman Sachs vice president Rob Rosenthal and outspoken computer scientist David Gelernter, is aiming to challenge the dominance of Facebook and Twitter by using blockchain to give people control of their data.
Revolution Populi, which is planning to raise funds for its assault on Silicon Valley toward the end of this year, has announced it will use the booming cryptocurrency and blockchain platform chainlink for its planned decentralized digital ecosystem and social network.
Revolution Populi will use chainlink’s smart contracts to allow users to be paid for their social media activity and let third-party app developers build on its public database.
“We’re going to return the internet back to the people to whom it rightfully belongs, and to do that, we’re going to integrate chainlink’s powerful smart contract middleware throughout the project, which will secure point to point transactions across this new digital ecosystem and social net,” said Rob Rosenthal, chief executive of Revolution Populi, speaking on a call ahead of the announcement, adding “the days of the internet companies seizing your data are over.”
Facebook, the world’s biggest social network counting 2.5 billion people among its users, has been wrestling with the fallout from various privacy and data-sharing scandals over recent years.
In July last year, Facebook was slapped with a record $5 billion fine by U.S. regulators to settle privacy concerns.
Rosenthal and Revolution Populi are hoping this dissatisfaction with how Facebook and other social media companies treat their users will result in demand for an alternative.
“There’s a lot of anger towards the likes of Facebook,” Rosenthal said. “There’s a lot of complaining. But there’s no existing solution.”
The announcement comes as chainlink, an ethereum token that powers a decentralized network designed to connect smart contracts to external data sources, has rocketed by a staggering 1,000% over the last year.
Chainlink has been boosted in recent months by a surge of interest in decentralized finance—the idea that blockchain entrepreneurs can use bitcoin and crypto technology to recreate traditional financial instruments such as loans and insurance.
“We’re excited to provide Revolution Populi with secure and reliable oracle services to enable decentralized validation of data within their digital ecosystem,” Daniel Kochis, head of business development for Chainlink, said via email.
Meanwhile, other blockchain-based alternatives to the existing centralized social media model have sprung up over recent years.
Dfinity, a blockchain-based cloud computing platform that was valued at nearly $2 billion in 2018, last month opened up its network to third party developers—hoping they will be able to “reboot the internet” and end big tech’s “monopolization.”
Minds, which styles itself as “an open source social network,” now boasts 2.5 million registered users, while Block.one, the company behind the EOS blockchain, launched it social network Voice earlier this month.
Revolution Populi plans to release its code and whitepaper to software development platform Github in August, signalling the next stage in its development.
In addition, the group will reveal “a digital ecosystem of apps that are tied to a publicly governed database built on blockchain,” a social network, designed by Gelernter, that “will sit on top of the database and feed it maiden data,” and a “data and advertising marketplace.”
The complex, three-pronged approach underscores the still-tiny firm’s ambition.
“The entire internet economy needs to be changed,” Rosenthal said.