Users who currently generate revenue for social media companies should be compensated in bitcoin.
Bitcoin is being adopted by more businesses, governments, and financial institutions than ever before. Notably, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced that users would be able to tip other content creators on Twitter using bitcoin. This is good news because it demonstrates another application for bitcoin as a currency and brings the world closer to “hyperbitcoinization.” However, while Twitter is facilitating bitcoin donations through their platform, this is insufficient. In keeping with the Bitcoin ethos, Twitter and other social media platforms should consider paying a bitcoin dividend to all of their users for using the site.
Twitter created the tip jar to compensate its content creators. It accomplishes this by enabling fans to tip their favorite content creators. Twitter, on the other hand, is a multibillion-dollar company whose value is derived directly from selling its users’ data to advertisers. While most of us are aware of how Twitter and other social media platforms make money, we rarely consider ourselves to be the product that Twitter sells. We should also keep in mind that social media companies are notorious for using predatory tactics to make their content more addictive and toxic, as evidenced by the recently leaked Instagram report. As a result of this predatory environment designed to profit from our usage, perhaps we all — influencers and regular users alike — should demand to be paid for creating content. It’s past time for them to start paying users, no matter how small, for creating content. Users could be paid in bitcoin for upvotes, shares, and retweets based on the amount of engagement their posts generate on the website. Users are these social media companies’ unpaid labor force.
Many social media founders, such as Jack Dorsey, claim to believe in bitcoin’s philosophy. The ethos of decentralization is central to that philosophy. This decentralization should be applied to user monetization.
Platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat have dividend-like monetization programs for influencers in which the content creators receive a portion of the advertising money poured into the platforms. Of course, these monetization programs as they currently exist are somewhat elitist in the sense that there are rigid entry barriers. I make YouTube content. For the first year and one month, I brought approximately 100,000 views and over 5,000 watch hours to the platform, but I was still unable to monetize my content because YouTube requirements state that you need 1,000 subscribers to be a part of their monetization program (I eventually hit this number in July of 2021 and started getting paid). TikTok and Snapchat have similar monetization barriers. There are other platforms that pay content creators in various cryptocurrencies for creating content, but they are small in scale and do not only accept bitcoin.
Is it a stretch to believe that companies like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook would pay us to use their social media? Yes. However, it is critical to consider what that world would look like as we approach hyperbitcoinization. That is a world akin to John F. Kennedy’s moonshot mission, one of foresight, equity, and optimism. In that world, bitcoin would be a borderless, permissionless, and censorship-resistant primary form of currency, and our way of life would undergo radical transformation.
When YouTube first began paying its content creators, few could have predicted the creator economy that exists today, with thousands of people making a living through YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, and other platforms. Social media companies would help to facilitate the adoption of a borderless, permissionless, and censorship-resistant form of global currency by extending bitcoin dividend payments to their unpaid labor force. If a significant number of influential content creators began to demand the dividend, social media companies would be forced to comply. The creator economy wields far more power than it may realize, and demands placed on the platforms that enable them can have significant clout. Given the concurrent fear of AI displacing many jobs and the growth of the creator economy, perhaps the bitcoin dividend is not only logical, but also imminent!