Notes on The Social Protocol

"In the future, there will be one canonical social protocol with all the social data. The future YouTubes, Clubhouses, and Twitters will all be built on the winning social protocol". — Naval

The social protocol will be built using decentralized and open technologies that will enable new kinds of social media products and help to solve some of the social media pain points, like censorship, feed algorithms, selling data, etc... Naval thinks that this protocol will be creating trillions of dollars in value. And for the first time, it won't all go to a few companies in the Bay Area. It'll be distributed across all the users of the platform.

The properties of Bitcoin and Ethereum can help solving the problems we mentioned. The social protocol will have the following properties, it will be open-source, permissionlessly programmable, censorship-resistance, with built-in payments, and is controlled by the people. As the social protocol will be built on top of the blockchain, it's going to be fully open. You don't need API keys or permission to read the current state of the social graph (the same way bitcoin made financial transactions open, it'll make social transactions open) or to build your own component that other people can use using any part of the social graph.

The social protocol will create algorithmic transparency allowing anyone to build a news feed algorithm or recommendation algorithms. The user to pick any algorithm they want and choose what data they want to share. One other benefit of building on top of blockchains is that it will have built-in payments which will accelerate new kinds of applications and monetization for creators. The most magical thing is that as it's an open state there won't be only one client controlled by an SV company. The state is open so anyone can start building their own version on top of the social graph state.

That will also be making social media censorship-resistant, no one can be kicked out of it. Your followers will not be under the mercy of Twitter or Facebook. They will be permanent. creators will be able to build their brand in the way they like and create new unimaginable incentives. And for the first time, it'll be your keys, your followers. Even if a client company bans someone, you could just view the social transactions on another client or by yourself in the command line.

One of the core components of the social protocol will be a new kind of reputation system that Balaji calls the pseudonymous economy. A concept by Arvind Narayanan says that pseudonymity is a continuum and it can be qualified by 33 bits. Each piece of information you give about yourself will be some bit or bits. For ex, if you're verified or not, is Bob following you. And you'll still be pseudonymous even if you reveal some of those bits. You can start creating multiple ids, an original one, one for tweeting and, one for earning. You can move your followers and information between them and even create new ones. A very great example he gave that in the same way people can't attack your bank account, people won't be able to attack your reputation. You check the full talk here.

I think something the social protocol will enable is a new and better LinkedIn as all the data for all the social media will be in one place, it will be much easier to have a better social representation of the connections between people (instead of1st and 2nd connections) and create new kind of incentives. you'll have a new social graph and be able to have a better measure of the connection between two people in new ways. And as you have a built-in payments system, you can create new incentives for the platform. Ex, you can start creating bounties on opening messages or sell an NFT for a meeting.

One of the most interesting things that happened in the crypto space was Square Crypto granting a pseudonymous developer. They had no idea who they are but just a record of Github contributions. A decentralized LinkedIn + the pseudonymous concept will create a new market for hiring. People can be hired pseudonymously. they distribute their reputation and verifiable credentials. And clients can verify information using zero-knowledge proofs.

I think a major component of the social protocol will be better and more scalable privacy technologies so you can start creating private networks on top of it and give the user the control of what data to make public. Data can be computed in a holomorphic computational way. You can even start selling this data to specific algorithms.

While all of that is so beautiful and exciting. It's so hard to achieve and the problems mainly center around acquiring users, have a high level of security as it's going to be open and scale with being decentralized. One of the challenges is building a product where people are owning the social data using their keys while creating the same kind of experience that other social media have created.

This is mainly based on Naval and Balaji's ideas on social protocols. I just thought it would be helpful to put them in one place.