MeWe social network boss says blockchain can solve the TikTok problem

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MeWe chairman and CEO Jeffrey Edell recently penned an op-ed detailing how he believes the situation between the US government and China’s TikTok could be avoided through the implementation of blockchain technologies.

Edell’s in the unique position of helming a social media company with, reportedly, more than 20 million users that’s made the leap from traditional web2 to the blockchain.

The TikTok situation

A slew of recent reports indicate that the U.S. is currently weighing an outright ban on China’s TikTok social media platform. There are allegations that ByteDance, the platform’s owner, has turned over sensitive user data to the Chinese government with potential negative implications for U.S. security.

In an op-ed penned for Rolling Stone, Edell wrote about how the TikTok situation is, at its crux, a matter of user privacy that could have been averted through decentralization:

“While the concerns surrounding TikTok are valid, I believe the focus should not solely be on one app or one country. Instead, companies should work toward creating and setting strict guidelines for handling personal data, digital identity and users’ privacy, regardless of their origin.”

Edell added that “one way to ensure that personal data is secure and protected is through the use of Web 3-based, blockchain technology.”

Transitioning to blockchain

As Cointelegraph reported, MeWe made the transition from web2 to the Frequency blockchain network, a Polkadot parachain, in April of 2023.

Essentially, the argument for blockchain-based user privacy hinges on who, exactly, has access to user data. On traditional social media platforms, such as X.com, user data is held and accessed through a centralized control method wherein the company itself retains ownership of all data.

In TikTok’s case, this ostensibly means that ByteDance, and by legal extension, the government of China, owns all of the platform’s user data — including more than 150 million U.S.-based users.

By placing data on the blockchain and implementing specific privacy controls, a social media network can give users control over their data without compromising platform functionality.

Related: Worldcoin launches its own ‘human-centric’ blockchain network

While MeWe’s user base doesn’t quite stack up to TikTok’s, the company’s transition to blockchain shows that it’s possible.

To that end, Edell shared six best practices for other companies considering the change in his Rolling Stone article, these included: understanding the technology, starting small, choosing the platform that’s right for your organization, staying up to date with regulatory compliance changes, collaborating with stakeholders, and ensuring employees are educated and trained on blockchain.