LONDON (Bywire News) - 2020 will be remembered for many things; not many of them good. One of its most important contributions could be that this was the moment that the worm turned for social media. With violence engulfing Washington DC in January, we saw the culmination of all the worst evils of social media conspiracy theories. However, we also saw the emergency of a new kind of social media experience in Voice.com.
After a much-hyped beginning in which Block.one sank $150 million to scale up operations, Voice finally became a reality. From the beginning it set out to be the anti-Facebook and address many of the most pressing flaws in society such as fake news, bot manipulation and data ownership.
“We are creating living journalism instead of static news platforms,” said Block.one CEO Brendan Blumer back in March 2020.
Under the leadership of Salah Zalatimo Voice.com would operate as a separate business to Block.one and set about scaling up its operations.
In March Voice moved to public beta mode in which people who were part of its ‘genesis’ community were able to use the site. In August, they were able to invite their friends as the platform scaled up in 20 countries around the world.
Voice harnesses the blockchain and tokenomics to reward good content and ensure only verified humans could use the site. The aim was to create an environment which was bot free and in which every piece of content could be traced back to an author.
As part of this, they pioneered a new high tech facial recognition system to avoid the need for government IDs. Human sign up used the same facial recognition technology used by mobile phones to scan your face and ensure that only unique humans could use the site.
Despite some glitches in which a few users reported being able to invite themselves using different email addresses and set up multiple accounts, the platform succeeded in creating a global and growing community of content producers.
To combat malicious content the platform has been using a democratic user led system in which content can be flagged and people can vote on whether to remove it or not.
Much of Voice’s operation is still in the development phase, but its producers are convinced they have created a social media platform of the future.
“I believe that if you create a really compelling and differentiated content experience, then people will come,” said Zalatimo as he reviewed the platform’s first year.
It certainly comes at a pivotal moment. This may prove to be the year that the world finally woke up to the dangers of social media. Fake news had proliferated across platforms for years. Malicious actors had spread hate and disinformation faster than coronavirus.
Reluctantly social media giants began to act, flagging up content which was untrue or could be deemed to be stirring up hate. However, they could only scratch the surface. Finally, as Donald Trump egged on his supporters even as they stormed the Capitol, it reached a nadir. Twitter blocked Donald Trump’s account while Facebook and Instagram removed a video for fear it could be seen to stir up violence.
As many people were quick to point out, this was too little too late. The genie was out of the bottle and was breaking down the windows of government. Washington showed what happened when you allow fake news to spread so fast.
Voice.com, therefore, ends the year in a good place. It is growing fast; its platform is evolving, and its community is creating the future of social media. Most of all, events around the world prove why we desperately need a platform which is transparent, open, and run for the benefit of its users.
(Written by Tom Cropper, edited by Michael O'Sullivan)