Blockchain startup Block.one opened its blockchain-powered social network Voice over the weekend to limited public access with a promise to reward users for quality content.
Announced in 2019, Voice is pitched as a blockchain-based social media application designed with users of the platform in mind. Offering a “more transparent social media platform for the world,” users of the service are rewarded for their content through the Voice Token cryptocurrency. Users verified on the service obtain tokens based on their participation that they will eventually be able to convert to money.
The service has evolved in testing from being Twitter-like earlier in the year to be somewhat closer to a mix of Facebook and Medium. Posts made on Voice can either be short-form or long-form with a preference for long-form as part of the push by Voice for quality content.
Voice is built on Block.one’s EOSIO protocol is best known for the EOS token. EOSIO launched in 2018 with a promise of offering an operating system that allows scalable decentralized autonomous communities with the support of asynchronous smart contract communication.
Arguably EOSIO’s and Block.one’s biggest claim to fame is holding the record for the largest initial coin offering in history after raising $4.2 billion from investors. The ICO gained the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission which claimed that the tokens in the ICO were offered as an unregistered security. Block.one settled with SEC for $24 million in September.
Voice was originally scheduled to go public later in the year. The current access is partial in that though the content on Voice can be read by all, signups require a request for early access. The ability to invite others to Voice will be available starting Aug. 15.
“We were prepping for a big reveal in the fall — but things changed. The world changed,” Voice Chief Executive Officer Salah Michael Zalatimo wrote in a Voice post-Saturday. “So, we’ve decided to open up our platform now and invite the community to be a part of the building process.”
Zalatimo added that the current environment has “fully exposed the corrupt social spaces created by Big Tech. It’s time to break away and put humans first. We need your help. It’s time for social as it should be.”
Exactly what Zalatimo means by that isn’t exactly clear. When it was announced in 2019, Block.one described Voice as “a more transparent social media platform for the world, where the value of good content gets circulated right back into sustaining the community, not corporate bottom lines.”
Rewarding creators for participation is certainly not a bad thing, but it’s an idea that has already been tried with little success. Minds.com and Steemit are two examples and although both have a carved out a niche audience, neither has grown to the point where it has entered the mainstream.
Voice has the advantage of being backed by Block.one and its ICO funds, but it needs to differentiate itself if it has any chance of mainstream success. So far, aside from not being evil and rewarding users, there’s nothing that stands out, but that could change with time as the service continues to be developed.