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Decentralizing Ownership of Social Networks

Online networks across various platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter and the like – have become saturated with fake news and impersonal, unrelated information. The ideas being shared across these networks have somewhat lost their sense of legitimacy and importance. Despite this, we still spend so much of our lives online, our identities becoming engrained in the ‘digital breadcrumbs’ we leave behind. As such, there is a constant fear of exposing too much of our identities on these online networks. The flow of information across these networks is not always secure on popular apps, and some companies take advantage of the information linked to users in the network with centralized server ownership. Obsidian is a new platform that seeks to eliminate centralized ownership of network servers in response to these information and privacy concerns within networks. By use of blockchain (a decentralizing mechanism that is private and secure), Obsidian ‘runs off of nodes run by users with stake, who are distributed across the globe,’ rather than allowing the presence of third party tracking and data gathering for cryptocurrency and secure anonymous messaging. The cryptocurrency provides incentive for the nodes who will run the network, as users have the ability to use Obsidian’s coin payment mechanism.

We become products of the networks we are apart of, and the online networking platforms are no exception. In class we discussed Mark Granovetter’s ‘The Strength of Weak Ties,’ emphasizing how information flows across networks and subsequently effects life events.  As we begin to spend more time online, integrating our identities into an online profile, Granovetter’s notions of the diffusion of information and subsequent reverberations are compelling. In regards to online networks and the significance of unique information flow between friends or acquaintances, platforms like Obsidian provide incentive and opportunity for new links to form and information to be shared, while managing the constriction of deceptive information, uniquely “allowing the community to decide what content thrives or dies.” The hope is that with decentralized platforms such as Obsidian, who will still generate revenue without the use of third party advertisements which impede on user information flow privacy, we no longer risk exposing too much of ourselves in our networks, and fix the existing norm for social network management.


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