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Block chain can solve social media's biggest problems

by Robert Ndlovu
15 Mar 2018 at 14:19hrs | Views
AS a follow up to my recent article about fake news on social media, this piece sheds light on the block chain technology and how it could be just what the doctor ordered.

To those who do not know what block chain, is I will try to explain it briefly. Block chain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 for use in the crypto-currency bitcoin, as its public transaction ledger. This made it the digital currency to solve the double spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server.

No intermediary, no central bank nor RBZ. This is the most common example of the use and application of block chain.

However, it has more useful and effective use elsewhere in industry and community. Block chains alleviate the need for a trust service provider and are predicted to result in less capital being tied up in disputes.

Block chains have the potential to reduce systemic risk and financial fraud. They automate processes that were previously time-consuming and done manually, such as the incorporation of businesses. In theory, it would be possible to collect taxes, conduct conveyancing and provide risk management with block chains.

Organisations like Zimra would stand to maximise their revenue collection from this. That is a topic for another day.

This makes block chains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records and other records management activities, such as identity management, transaction processing, documenting provenance, food traceability or voting.

Identifying and rewarding value in social networks - we consume social media on a handful of platforms that have achieved massive scale like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, among others.

These networks rely on ad-based business models, which share a major shortcoming like users, creators, and platforms are unequally compensated for their participation on the platform.

The other day while at Joina City in Harare to attend some conference, I could not resist the temptation to stop and observe what people in there where doing. About 95 percent of them were on their smartphones chitchatting.

The same scenario is found at flea markets, airports, churches, colleges etc. That made me think that somewhere somehow there should be a way to monetise this addiction of social media by locals. Go into any pub or restaurant and try to prove my hypothesis wrong.

By utilising the private ledger the block chain provides, companies can better track user interaction with content. This will enable the quantification of user's worth to the network, and therefore a better idea of how they should be compensated for their activity.

How many times do you check your Whatsapp or Facebook per day? Are you paid for using it? I know that this notion of equally spreading the wealth across the network is somewhat radical, it is there for someone daring to tap into it.

Great inventions usually start as crazy ideas. Access to content – in countries like China, North Korea and Syria, citizens can be blocked by the government from accessing social media and certain content, including news, music, and more.

The same is true for a number of African countries especially during election time. The concept of decentralised content offers an alternative to combat internet censorship. By providing a distributed ledger, block chain ensures no entity can block valid access to content. I am sure you see why trigger-happy regulators would not like this kind of technology.

Content authenticity

We all have received messages or notifications of fake recruitment drives supposedly from local companies. The list is endless. Recently the ZDF had to issue a press statement stating that they were not recruiting following some thread that went viral on social media and youths flocked to military bases looking for employment.

If people can be paid something to post on social media, I think we will get more authentic posts. It is complex but it can be done.

The human has split an atom and landed man on the moon so this is not a far-fetched idea. The possible use cases for this block chain are limitless and staggering. Any group that utilizes propaganda as tool for recruiting and marketing could cause serious damage if the technology were made available to them, underscoring the importance of a proven validation system.

That is where block chain enters. Easier said than done. More block chain use cases coming weekly just watch this space. As we approach general elections you do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the kind of damage fake news on social media can do. "Mina Zwi"

Robert Ndlovu +263 77 600 2605 : wozatel@gmail.com

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