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Why are social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter free to use?
Because users are the product.
More specifically, the “products” that social media companies deliver to their customers (advertisers) are as much data as they can collect from a user(shopping habits, hobbies, personal identifying information, and other metadata)
Capitalizing on their role as gatekeepers of digital content, social media companies harvest and large stores of user data. Bought and sold as a commodity, this personal information calibrates algorithms that manipulate what users see, buy and interact online. These algorithms are undetected: they’re deceptive, sneaky, and pinpointed, secluding users in echo chambers that misinform, polarize and sow discord across society.
Tasked with the daunting responsibility of moderating content posted by billions of users, social media companies have asserted themselves as the de facto “arbiters of truth” online. On the pretext of protection, their “Trust & Safety” departments act with impunity to censor dissenting voices.
Public opinion of social media companies has deteriorated as the abuse of their power has become clearer in recent years. Unfortunately, there’s not much that individuals can do: fully participating in online discourse requires the use of digital infrastructure controlled by a handful of internet oligarchs. These data-rich companies that enjoy an 'advantageous feedback loop' that continuously entrenches their monopolies.
- Peer-to-Peer: Direct transactions between peers are transparent, simple and efficient.
- Built on Digital Money: Digital communication and commerce infrastructure are equally critical to a modern, functioning society. It only makes sense that the next generation of social networks are built on the most secure, censorship-resistant and antifragile foundation available.
- Incentivizes Creation + Value-Additive Consumption: Financial rewards encourage creativity and originality. There’s no way for creators to promote their content, and users only see what they opt into. Because there is no way to fake engagement, users are incentivized to create content that others actually want to see.
Zion will open source license the relay code base. Open source software, led and driven by community requirements is often closer to the needs of the individuals and entities using it. Users of open source software have the freedom to make modifications to suit their requirements more closely. Contributing these modifications back to the community allows them to be adopted - and maintained - by the community of support, rather than remaining a burden on the developer.
- Bug-fixing When bugs are identified in commercial proprietary software, there's nothing to do but wait for the original developers to fix them. Furthermore, commercial vendors are often driven by sales to prioritize new features rather than fixing existing problems.
- Open source software is different. Once a bug is identified, anyone with the expertise and resources can provide a fix.
- Reliability and Elegance Open source software is peer reviewed by merit-based open source communities, leading to greater reliability. Peer review and peer pressure in open source communities often leads to reduction in the complexity of code, making it easier to maintain. Elegance is not as obviously an objective of commercial proprietary code.
- Stability Users of proprietary software often face a tension between the day to day needs of their business, and their vendor's need to develop a regular revenue stream. Often this tension is expressed in the provision of unsought-for upgrades. The tension -termed vendor push - effectively requires the user of proprietary software to fit their IT strategy to the financial needs of their supplier. The history of the software industry shows a tendency to develop near-monopolies which then act to force upgrades onto users - producing high profits but less user satisfaction. A user that resists an upgrade will eventually find they are using unsupported software. Open source communities take a different approach, often offering support for two or more recent versions of software. Such communities proceed at their own pace in a more collaborative manner.
- Security - Anyone can view the source code of open source software, as the name suggests. In addition to the early identification of general defects, this enables the identification and remediation of defects specifically impacting security. Community driven peer review and openness trump "security by obscurity".
- Audit-ability and Privacy - Audit-ability is of growing importance in a world increasingly concerned not only with security, but also the privacy of users data. Open source code allows for external audit of software - ensuring compliance with software standards and legal requirements. Proprietary software essentially asks for a leap of faith.