Will paying to post shape the future of the internet?

What would happen if Twitter or Facebook removed your account, deleted your posts, and silenced your communications? New app Twetch, built for the blockchain, aims to solve that issue.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor
(Image: Twetch)

How would you feel if your carefully crafted messages, posted to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram disappeared forever? Would you prefer to have more ownership of your content? Now Twetch, a new social app, built for the blockchain, ensures you can keep control of your data forever.

Twetch is a social media application built on top of the Bitcoin SV protocol, which enables you to put data into blockchain transactions.

The app is an interface for the blockchain -- the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin -- which enables users to read and write information to the chain, pay to post, and earn Bitcoin for their messages.

Users have complete ownership of their data from the start. The data remains your own property and you assign your identity to each piece of data using a signature on the Bitcoin network. Similar to the returning Tsu platform, when you share your content on Twetch, if people like your content, you can make money from their likes and comments.

It uses micropayments and micro-fees business model. There is no third-party platform taking a cut of the cash, and your data stays yours forever -- regardless of the application used to access it.

Your data is resilient, public, and immutable on the blockchain. Any web service can re-use the Twetch data that is hosted on-chain and build their platform with this data.

The Twetch application interface to the Bitcoin network looks a little like Twitter. If someone likes, comments, or shares one of your posts, or tags you in a post, you receive money (from 0.1c from a mention, up to about 8c for a like, depending on the social validation of your post).

According to Twetch CEO, Josh Petty (Elon Moist on Twitter and Twetch), Twetch is 'non-custodial' -- meaning it never touches users' money. Users need to connect their Bitcoin wallets, to an app like Money Button to start Twetch.

This Bitcoin wallet has a private key 12-word passphrase, held secret by the user, who is the only person with access to their money.

Which Bitcoin protocol to use?

Bitcoin SV (BSV) is a standalone peer-to-peer network that emerged in November 2018. It enables users to make micro-transactions and put blocks of data on-chain (onto the blockchain) -- where it will remain forever.

The Bitcoin SV (BSV) block size protocol has recently been uplifted to 2GB per block. This is more scalable than the 1MB block size of the original Bitcoin core (BTC) protocol, or Bitcoin cash (BCH), which do not scale as well as BSV.

Currently, the BTC network can only do about three to seven transactions per second at peak periods, which is far less than transactions through Visa at 2,000 to 56,000 transactions per second. At the moment, Bitcoin SV can handle about 2,000 transactions per second.

This seems to indicate that the BSV protocol could scale further -- unlike BTC. BTC's code has been heavily modified and has moved away from the original concept of Bitcoin.

According to the Bitcoin Association's Jimmy Nguyen, the Bitcoin SV project is dedicated to fulfilling the original vision of its creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto wrote the definitive white paper on Bitcoin -- the same white paper as the Bitcoin paper published by Craig S Wright.

Petty said:

"The beautiful thing about Twetch being built on Bitcoin is that Twetch as a company never owns or holds funds for the user. Any money earned instantly goes directly into the user's wallet.

When you create an account on Twetch, you are creating a Bitcoin wallet with a private key (12 word phrase) that only the user knows.

Every interaction on Twetch means a payment directly to the user, they own their money 100% instantly the moment they are paid. If a user wants to trade the Bitcoin for cash, they can do so."

Bitcoin applications

Twetch is one of many applications built to access the blockchain. It uses the blockchain as a data ledger, a globally distributed database, which enables people to communicate and do business together. Ads can still exist, but users have more control over what they can see.

Twetch is one of many apps that are Bitcoin-based, meaning that what you share, will be immutably kept, on-chain forever. You can earn Bitcoin based on comments and likes you receive on your posts.

If Twetch disappeared, the user data that is hosted on the blockchain will still be there. This means it can be re-used elsewhere on a different platform at any time.

If one platform does not like your activities on it, you can be banned from that platform. However, users can take their data, which exists on the blockchain and move it to another platform. 

Your followers can go with you -- unlike Twitter, where you will lose all of your followers. Twetch is merely an app designed to access the blockchain.

To publish a post to the blockchain using Twetch, you pay a small transaction fee (about 2c). This contrasts with the cost to post to the BTC chain which can range from $1 to about $40 per transaction, according to Nguyen.

Computers (called miners), take the data and place it on the block. The block is managed by computers who manage the records of transactions and data.

As the data is distributed, many companies hold a backup of this data -- unlike companies like Facebook or Twitter. If these companies closed, your data would be lost.

Currently, text, images, and links go onto the blockchain but Petty thinks that in the future, videos, and other media will be stored on the blockchain, and micro-transactions will be used to access this data.

If you pay to watch a video but do not want to watch any further content, all you have paid is the sum to access the content initially. He reckons that pay-per-view will disappear in time.

Bots will no longer be useful to spammers due to the cost of posting each message. The lack of response to posts will quickly make spammer's work uneconomical. Good quality posts will be rewarded in Bitcoin.

Users will be able to post and search for data, profiting from content quality. There will be no middlemen taking a fee, or generating revenue through ad serving. Users will be able to sell their content through advertising instead of the current model where social platforms sell your content to advertisers.

How to get onto the blockchain

Petty said:

"Right now you can sign up to the Twetch waitlist on the website. As we continue to build, users will sign up on Twetch just like they would any other application on the internet like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

We are making it very simple for people to create profiles, and post/view on Bitcoin, it will feel a lot like the internet apps you use today. No need to know anything about Bitcoin to successfully join and use Twetch"

You can also DM the @Twetchapp on Twitter for access to the platform. You will be taken through a couple of steps, which includes creating a Money Button account for your payments and receipts, and receiving a numeric Twetch handle. You can pay to reserve a unique Twetch handle of your choice (I paid $1 for @eileenb). Then, all you need to do is to start Twetching.

You can even post your Twetches to Twitter to broadcast your messages. 

Petty said: 

"What's great about being able to Tweet from Twetch is that users get the benefit of having all their followers view their content, while still having profit potential on Twetch. We certainly plan to open this up to as many platforms as we can."

According to Twetch enthusiast and influencer Bryan Daugherty  (@$Bryan), Bitcoin is permission-less. What you post on Twetch is actually on the blockchain and you or anyone else wouldn't need Twetch to read it," he said.

He is convinced that this Metanet "will be the fourth industrial revolution" and that the "blockchain, the public ledger that scales, is a gamechanger."

Will paying to post shape the future of the internet zdnet

Twetch, of course, is not the only app that can access the blockchain: Agora allows you to add files to the BSV blockchain; Coin.dance shows transactions and Bitcoin block sizes on the network; Bistagram is an image-based social network; Streaminty is a video upload site where you earn direct payments for views; and Yours, Weiblock, and Memo SV are social network sites that earn Bitcoin for your content; and the Handcash wallet app enables you to transfer Bitcoin.

Twetch will also drive innovation across the blockchain due to competitive pressure, according to Twetch user @Klimenos. Because the user data is public and open to anyone, "anyone can create an alternative to Twetch. Because it's on the blockchain (public with a trail of evidence), it is easy to find the original content creator. And platforms like Twetch are designed to maintain the trail of evidence, so that original content creators are always rewarded."

Petty said:

"Users will quickly notice that the benefits of using Twetch are far greater than any other platform. They profit from their content, they own their data, and that content is archived on a blockchain that will host that information for a very very long time.

Twitter can go down. Bitcoin never goes down".

So, will Twetch herald a new revolution in social media and data longevity? The pay to post model is here to stay.

Once users have realized the power of owning their data and having access to it across their apps, they will embrace the blockchain. They will love that their data is theirs forever -- and they can be paid what they deserve for the work they produce.

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