- The SOCIETY2 team has started building the software framework for the development of decentralized social networks based on the IOTA Tangle.
- Currently, however, there are three major hurdles or limitations of the IOTA Tangle that have so far prevented its implementation for the mass market.
Already in early May, the SOCIETY2 team announced the development of an ecosystem that enables the creation of social networks based on IOTA‘s Distributed Ledger technology. In a new blog post, the head of SOCIETY2’s development department, Ben Royce, has announced further details. As Royce states right at the beginning of his explanations, there are many options for creating distributed social media (DeSM) applications that could be started.
According to Royce, decentralized alternatives to LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, Facebook, Medium, SoundCloud, Reddit, Patreon, Stack Overflow, TikTok, YouTube and Trello are conceivable, among others. Because of this, SOCIETY2 decided to develop a software framework as a toolkit for the development of all these platforms, which includes all the important functions for building a social network, as Royce explained:
A library of methods, properties, events, etc., common across all social media examples, can be abstracted out, for use by anyone. All sorts of sites and apps can be quickly instantiated. A number of powerful realizations are then made.
The focus will be on the concept of Decentralized Identity (DID). Instead of having to use the same identity across many different instances for different social media companies, only one single identity will be needed to participate on different platforms.
Current challenges for the development of decentralised social networks based on IOTA
Royce says that the work on building the framework has already begun. However, there are currently three major hurdles or limitations of the IOTA Tangle that prevent its implementation for the mass market so far. According to Royce the latest MAM version (now IOTA Streams) must be delivered:
MAM is the workhorse for storing and retrieving data on the Tangle. The current version is pre-release, version 0. It works fine, with some quirks, and can be used in the interim. However, version 1.1’s release is imminent, and, besides containing breaking changes, promises more robust functionality.
Royce also describes as particularly problematic the deletion and modification of data on the IOTA Tangle, two functions that are perfectly common in social networks, but are in contrast to the immutability of the Tangle. As a bridging measure SOCIETY2 suggests an additional MAM channel that lists deleted messages.
According to Royce, however, a real deletion is necessary due to the worldwide data protection regulations. This should consist of the fact that IOTA Nodes delete certain zero value transactions. According to Royce, the solution provided by IOTA for this is not sufficient:
However Chronicle takes the opposite approach: it keeps everything, all spam, all transactions, everything. The Tangle is small enough for now that even with all transactions, a large time period can still be stored on modest node. This suffices for showcasing DeSM functionality in the interim. But what is genuinely needed is a *selective* permanode, a node that only stores those transactions permanently which fit criteria the node describes. Luckily, such an idea is already being worked on: Olaf van Wijk’s AION project.
According to Royce, this requirement is also not a special feature of a decentralized social network, but will have to be integrated on the tangle due to worldwide data protection regulations (e.g. DSGVO):
This suffices for showcasing DeSM functionality in the interim. But what is genuinely needed is a *selective* permanode, a node that only stores those transactions permanently which fit criteria the node describes.
A third requirement that Royce sees for the implementation of the project is the release of the already announced Unified Identity Protocol from IOTA, on which Tangle EE is also working.
But in the future, the concept of decentralized identity (DID) will allow for seamless identity across all DeSM sites and apps. No more juggling multiple logins. DID is far more than that, and the implications of DID are quite extraordinary, well beyond the scope of this essay.
Royce also pointed out the “grey area” of posts of pictures, audio files and videos. Although the Tangle can store large amounts of data, it is, as Royce states, “currently not advisable due to performance limitations on transaction size/speed […]”. A workaround would be to link to external hosts, such as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).