What is a decentralized social graph? Build one on the blockchain with Meson Network
When we think of a social graph, we think of web 2 online social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But these web 2 organizations are constantly under the heat for infringing personal privacy, and collecting and selling users’ data to third-party firms. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse was fined 17 million euros ($19 million) by the European Union for a series of data breaches that occurred on Facebook throughout 2018.
The algorithms of web 2 platforms are also rigged. Although their main purpose is to distribute content efficiently, algorithms have been manipulated to promote content that can create the most ad revenue for web 2 organizations.
But, web 3 is different. By leveraging blockchain technology and decentralized storage systems, a number of web 3 startups are building out decentralized social graphs that run on independent servers, rather than on a centralized server controlled by a single entity.
In 2018, Matters Lab built out a decentralized content and social graph on the blockchain that users can control and applications can share. Now, this blockchain infrastructure supports over 100,000 content creators.
In this article, we share all about what a social graph on blockchain is, and how we partnered with Meson Network, the bandwidth marketplace on web 3, to create a decentralized social graph.
What is a social graph on the blockchain?
At its core, a social graph is a graphical representation of how entities are connected on social media platforms. For instance, your Facebook social graph would represent the friends that you’re connected with on Facebook, as well as their friends, and how their friends are connected to you.
A social graph has been referred to as the “global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”.
Web 2 social graphs exist on centralized servers owned by the business itself, much like a walled garden locking all the information into its own ecosystem. Only the business has access to this data, along with hundreds of advertising and political firms it is associated with.
Traditional social graphs are also not portable – which means that every time you switch from one social network to another, you’ll have to create new connections from scratch. For instance, even if you have a Facebook account with thousands of friends, once you start to use LinkedIn, you’ll have to go through the whole process of following people and getting followers, again.
A decentralized social network, on the other hand, runs on independent servers–mostly the blockchain–instead of on an application server. This blockchain-based social graph is also transferable across any social platform, game, or even the Metaverse. This means you can retain the same social connections that you currently have across any platform.
On web 3 social networks, the user data is also stored on a decentralized storage system, deterring any commercial organization from gaining access to your personal information.
When Matters Lab built out our hugely-popular self-governed web3 content community with 100,000 content creators, Matters.Town, we had to solve the entire process from content creation to distribution.
When it comes to decentralized storage, there are many options available. For example on IPFS, the de facto standard of content addressing, we can pin data with centralized services such as Pinata, Infura, and Matters.Town, or with decentralized incentive mechanisms such as Filecoin, Arweave, and Crust.
However, when it comes to accessing data, the infrastructure is lacking. If a user wants to retrieve a piece of content using IPFS directly, she has to go through a public IPFS gateway.
Public gateways, some of which we listed in our IPFS modal, are voluntarily provided by the IPFS community, without much guarantee or incentives for their sustainability. A similar problem exists for blockchain as well: when a user requests the content stored on Ethereum by Traveloggers, NFT social media avatars, she has to go through a particular service provider such as Infura, which introduces a centralized point.
This is the bandwidth sharing problem, and what our partner, Meson Network sets out to solve. Meson Network allows nodes to contribute their bandwidth while earning tokens, effectively forming a trustless CDN. Applications can then use routing tables maintained by Meson Network to find the nearest and fastest node for their users, improving the user experience while keeping it sustainable.
Matters Lab is thrilled to announce our collaboration with Meson Network since 2021, which fills a crucial piece in our infrastructure. As the first step, Matters.Town integrated Meson Network API into the IPFS modal, so when a user retrieves content from IPFS directly, she can use it to redirect to the nearest gateway, speeding up the process of content retrieval. This year in 2022, we have integrated to Meson Networks’s latest version , which allowed users to find nearby nodes faster and easier than before.
As Matters Lab further decentralized its social and content graph, more use cases of fast, reliable, and decentralized content retrieval will emerge. We are excited to go down this route together with the Meson Network team, and together build a truly decentralized social and content graph for everyone.
About Meson Network
Meson Network is committed to creating an efficient bandwidth marketplace on Web3, using blockchain protocol models to replace the traditional labor-based sales models, consolidating and monetizing idle bandwidth from long-tail users with low cost. Meson is the foundation of data transmission for decentralized storage, computation, and the emerging Web3 Dapp ecosystem.
About Matters Lab
Matters Lab was established in 2018, with the mission to create a freer and fairer creator ecosystem through the next evolution of the Internet, Web3. Our initiatives include using decentralization tools to protect digital rights, designing a self-governing system and community, and inventing models for a new creator economy.
Traveloggers is the second entrance leading to a news creator economy model. These NFT avatars are the first to expand private ownership with collective creation through an editable logbook feature. You can find the full collection on OpenSea here.