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Startups

Peepeth – A Blockchain-Based Alternative to Twitter

It would not be much wrong to suggest that we have been living in an age where digital media pertains absolute ruling. Every individual in this digital age has a digital identity that makes corporate stakeholders in the social media platforms, among others, unfathomably rich. The way this social media paradigm works is broken, one sided and exploitative. Your data is held hostage, your opinion manipulated and your interest sold. On top of that, there is absolute zero privacy – the things we assume to mark private, are not safe from usage by data analysts and the open market.

The reality is that mainstream social media is not ”free”. In exchange for the use of a platform that hides it’s costs, each user has become a product. Advertisers have been armed with tons of our ”private” data. Brokers can drive world views, tear people apart and so much so that they can even drive national elections.

Moreover, these platforms carry centralized power concentrations and can censor whatever they want to. They pursue an incentive based approach to censor discussion as per the governmental demands.

The Solution

The solution is simple, it is to give the two billion people of the world that are using social media, the control of their online identities and more education about it’s usage.

On our part, very few of the two billion might own cryptocurrencies, while the rest are arguing over the wild speculation that blockchain has no utility. They’re confused about the lack of utility of blockchain while the very technology is being used to solve real world problems.

Peepeth: The Decentralized Social Media 

Introducing Peepeth, which is a Twitter-like decentralized social media platform. How Peepeth works is different from the mainstream social media platforms. It is built on the ethereum blockchain and requires a small amount of ether for an individual to participate. The difference is not being “cost free” but being transparent enough to not hide monetary costs, which are the only costs that apply to it. Peepeth usage costs the equivalent of a few American cents for an entire day of standard interactions.

On March 28, 2018, a Reddit user by the name of r/madame_BOV released a post introducing a new service called Peepeth, a microblogging decentralized app (DApp) that is powered by the ethereum blockchain. Peepeth uses a smart contract protocol which stores all the platform’s data on a decentralized Interplanetary File System (IPFS).

The blockchain structure enables Peepeth to become a decentralized alternative to Twitter that is immune to manipulation. User authentication is easily achieved by an Oracle contract which is then linked to social media accounts.

How it works

Smart contract

Peepeth’s smart contract stores all the Peepeth data in the form of a link to that particular data, such as account information and Peep content. The data itself is saved to a decentralized data store called the Interplanetary File System (IPFS)

One may ask to store the data on the blockchain itself which is quite expensive as all blockchain transactions require gas (a measure of computational/storage requirements). Although it is much cheaper to store a link to the data. The main advantage of using blockchain is to keep a timestamp of who posted what and when, which ties all the data in one location.

Peepeth.com

Peepeth.com, the website, is a front-end for the Peepeth smart contract. This site reads to and writes from the contract. It also adds other functionalities which are impossible to do with only blockchain, such as email notifications and Twitter cross-posting. Peepeth.com works a lot like normal web applications. The main difference is that the data store (the smart contract) is open source.

Peepeth introduces the concept of bulk posting. It allows users to post actions such as peep (tweet) or follow, like, subscribe etc, to the blockchain in bulk. Normally, you’d have to pay ethereum transaction fees for every action which can be an expensive and slow procedure.

But with bulk posting, you can post or follow on Peepeth.com instantly and freely, and then save all outstanding Peeps to the blockchain at your leisure in a single, cheap transaction.

Another interesting concept that Peepeth introduces is social verification, which lets you prove your real-world identity through the blockchain. Peepeth has another smart contract that uses Oracle to see if you own social media accounts you claim you own.

To verify a social media account, you’ll first post a certain message containing your ethereum address to a given social media account. Peepeth will then ask you to send the link of that social media post to the smart contract, which will verify that it contains the special message. If it does, the smart contract will mark your social media account as linked to your ethereum address, and other users will see that you control those external accounts.

Distinct features

Peepeth is different from mainstream social media platforms in all of it’s ways. As mentioned earlier, it truly defines online freedom and guarantees a webplace for a positive, productive environment. It undertakes the following measures for the greater good of the broken internet community:

  • Data saved to an open, public, permanent database
    The data (user information, interests, peeps, follows, etc) is saved on the ethereum blockchain. This ensures that Peepeth or any third party does not gain control of your account, identity or content.
  • No ads
    Peepeth does not optimize for ad impressions and does not gain any monetary benefits by posting ads. It’s revenue model is different to the pertinent social media applications that cater to all kinds of advertisements and data auctions.
  • No edit or delete option for peeps
    Peeps are publicly accessible, potentially forever. This creates accountability and gives your words more weight. The datastore is strongly censorship resistant, because of blockchain’s immutability. Note, however, that Peepeth.com will not display content that violates the terms of its usage.
  • Spam resistant
    Peepeth is spam-resistant because it costs money to write to the blockchain. Peepeth doesn’t charge the user for posting but spammers lose their free-peeping privilege making spamming a relatively expensive prospect.
  • Transparency
    All data is openly stored on the ethereum blockchain. Anyone can monitor the blockchain to see what Peepeth.com is not displaying. Those who purchase the “authenticity badge” or higher will be able to easily audit content that is removed from the main feed.
  • Verifications
    Peepeth allows user identity verification by linking other social media accounts through the blockchain. Twitter and GitHub currently supported; more coming soon. Peepeth charges a fee in cryptocurrency for verifications.
  • Twitter cross-posting
    Peepeth grants its users the ability to post Peeps to Twitter after authentication. This option can be toggled for every peep that is posted.

Why Peepeth?

Peepeth’s mission is to encourage positive contribution both online and in the world. Peepeth’s features encourage thoughtful, responsible engagement, while discouraging hate, spam, and reactive posts. It gives true ownership of online identity by saving data on the ethereum blockchain, that is open, decentralized and immutable. It encourages thoughtful content, altruism and self awareness while discouraging hate and reactive posting. It takes measures to ensure a productive environment.

  • Charity badge
    Peepeth encourages it’s users to do good and become a part of social welfare by introducing charity badges. They are used to support and raise awareness for important, tractable and neglected problems of the status quo. The charity badge is shown on your avatar and bumps you to the top of follower suggestions, giving serious amount of peep-centive. The Peepeth team also announced that they had purchased over 1000 long lasting insecticidal bed nets from the ‘Against Malaria Foundation’ by the help of several top effective altruism charity evaluators.
  • One “like” per day
    Instead of a “Like” button, Peepeth has the once-per-day Ensō. Its rarity makes it more special to receive, and it encourages the creation of dignified, beautiful, and timeless content. An Ensō is forever; there is no undo. Ensō, characterized by the minimalism born of Japanese aesthetics, is a circle that is hand-drawn in one uninhibited brushstroke. It represents creativity, freedom of expression, and unity.
  • Insight badge
    The words you use predict your big five personality traits. It helps the user to learn more about themselves via powerful AI derivatives and extracts personality types from the posted peeps. It also compares results on Peepeth to the users’ other social media accounts and they can either delete them forever or display them on profile. This feature is in development stage as of now, but it is a fun feature to learn more about ourselves and to find other people worth following.
  • Constant reminders
    Peepeth periodically reminds you to review your post before committing it to the blockchain, resulting in fewer typos and greater reflection before posting. Let it not be forgotten that Peeps are forever, reminders give a chance to reconsider.
  • Politics
    Many people find online political discussion frustrating and stressful. On Peepeth, users are urged to include the #politics hashtag in political peeps. This hides the content (but not the peep) by default and the users must click “reveal” to view it. This gives users the freedom to ignore potentially toxic discussions. This is an evolving solution to a tough problem.
  • Less ”me”, more ”we”
    In Twitter and other media platforms, users can pin their tweets or posts to their profiles. In Peepeth, you can pin someone else’s post to your account. Pinning lets you recognize someone else’s good work and plays a role in general appreciation of others and harmonious engagement altogether.

More such awesome features are under development as of press time and it is safe to say Peepeth has just started.

Progress so far

Peepeth is leading the way for decentralized apps’ usability. It is one of the few non-game and non-trading blockchain apps in use. It has pioneered novel techniques that make it very user-friendly. It has received 7500+ invite requests, and tens of thousands of peeps have been immortalized on the blockchain.

It is currently featured on every major mobile DApp browser (Trust, Coinbase Wallet, Status, Cipher), and on DApp portals such as App.co, EveryDapp.comand others.

Peepeth has been involved in multiple schemes to gain initial investment and has announced of a vast set of new features to be introduced as they reach their goals. For example, after reaching the $350,000 mark, it plans to have purpose built iOS and android apps, improved design and branding, robust back-to-back application, better user support, more novel features and a better team. By $1,000,000, it aims to have world class web and mobile apps, and to further their outreach and integration programs.

Challenges faced

Peepeth faces many drawbacks in usability. For starters, users need ethereum cryptocurrency to be a part of the setup. Then, it has no mobile application as of yet and the user requires a browser extension that supports DApps to use Peepeth.

Peepeth is also different from mainstream social media as it carries a cost to post a peep. This cost, while only a few cents, is probably going to count as an adversary than a friend. Peepeth describes that users can post free after 10 days and 100 peeps, which otherwise costs the a transaction fee on ETH network. Another challenge ahead for Peepeth is scalability, which has become one of the most pressing issues in blockchain, especially the ethereum blockchain.

Talking exclusively to BlockPublisher, Peepeth development team explained how they plan to avoid congesting the ETH blockchain by batching multiple actions into a single transaction.

Another possible dispute is to predict the timeline for software development and of possible stress on the ethereum blockchain. Complexity of the blockchain is also an issue that needs proper education to be imparted to the public about it’s working manifesto.

Apart from these technical challenges, even more crucial prospects are to increase product appeal and usability while eradicating the challenge posed by pertinent social media outlets.

Peepeth at Kickstarter.com

Peepeth began its crowdfunding campaign on the Kickstarter platform on August 20. Unlike most startups of its kind, the project skipped an ICO and decided to use Kickstarter to gain initial funding. It reached 13% of its goal within the first day of the campaign. The team seeked to raise $60,000, which was more than a modest goal for this decentralized social media network.

However, The Kickstarter campaign was cancelled by its team due to unforeseen circumstances with still 11 days to go in its pledge. Upon inquiry, the Peepeth team refused to comment over the reasons of cancellation. With Kickstarter pledge, they managed to gather an amount of $11,557 out of the $60,000 that was initially planned.

New crowdfunding campaign

Since then, a new crowdfunding campaign has been announced by its team which can be supported by ether, digital tokens and fiat credit cards.

As of press time, Peepeth has gathered 27.414 ETH out of the targeted 1000 ETH with 45 days to go in the campaign backed by 68 people.

Peepeth offers plenty of additional perks for people that pledge money to it’s model, which range from $25 to $10,000. It offers a wide range of benefits to users that pledge towards it’s development, from minute options like early access (no cryptocurrency required), option to bookmark peeps, extra character limit, being able to customize color scheme of your profile and other badges to appropriate investor operations like being able to attend global meetups.

It is rather refreshing to see Peepeth take up a different road to gather initial investment compared to ICOs. Unlike most blockchain projects, Peepeth doesn’t use any native tokens and has a valueless points system. Peepeth has not said why it has chosen not to issue tokens, but securities regulations have made ICOs a legal battlefield and many ICOs that try simply fail.

Final word

With funding, Peepeth will have a good chance of becoming the first mainstream DApp and could introduce cryptocurrency and ethereum to a mass audience.

In addition to its social media functionality, It will teach users the basics about cryptocurrencies, while not requiring them to buy it or install special software. Peepeth will also incentivize new users to acquire ether owing of the services offered on Peepeth and the opportunity to interact with other DApps.

All in all, Peepeth gives off a more generalized notion that suddenly, social media is capable of being truly valuable. Not just for corporate behemoths, but for the people and for the world.

Razi Khan

Researcher, Electrical Engineer and a teacher, Razi is one who takes great intrigue in the prospects of blockchain and cryptocurrencies (BTC in particular) while contributing a critical approach over the subject regularly. Contact the editor at editor.news@blockpublisher.com

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