Decentralized Social Media

End of Traditional Channels? 52% Crave Enhanced Security & Willing to Switch to Decentralized Social Media

CryptoVantage Staff | September 21st, 2023

Key Findings


think decentralized social media platforms have the potential to replace traditional channels.


are concerned about social media's power over user data and content.


would switch to decentralized social media platforms for better control over personal data.


prefer a decentralized social media platform if it allows them to be anonymous.

In an age where social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram reign supreme, a new contender is on the horizon: decentralized social media platforms.

The OG platforms — characterized by their absence of a central governing body — have emerged as trailblazers, setting the foundation of how social media platforms could be and unveiling new possibilities along the way. However, the landscape of social media is evolving rapidly, with recent trends highlighting shifting user preferences and growing vulnerability among traditional platforms.

While the established, centralized platforms continue to dominate the social media scene, they have never looked more vulnerable as users actively seek alternatives. Notably, Twitter (X) has been at the forefront of recent discussions, with many users exploring its alternatives like Threads and Mastodon. Such growing trends reflect a growing appetite for decentralized alternatives that offer greater autonomy and transparency.

But what do users really want, and how informed are they about this paradigm shift?

We asked 1,500 U.S. people from different age groups about their thoughts and preferences on centralized and decentralized social media. And the results unveil intriguing insights about social media preferences, their understanding, and the curiosity to explore new frontiers.

Top Choices of Social Media and Untrodden Paths

When asked about their top social media preferences, a staggering 37% opted for Facebook, while 21% chose YouTube and 17% chose TikTok. Interestingly, the top choice for Gen Z is TikTok (33%), followed by Instagram (23%) and YouTube (19%). For Millennials, Facebook is the top choice (36%), followed by YouTube (19%) and TikTok (18%).

For Gen X and Baby Boomers, Facebook seems to be the prime platform of choice for over 47% of the respondents, followed by YouTube (24%). Only a meager 8% choose TikTok and Instagram.

This shows that different generations have different preferences when it comes to social media — the younger generation prefers to use visual platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, while the older generation is more likely to use Facebook, which has been around for longer.

Even so, in a fascinating twist, 58% of the survey respondents remain unaware of emerging platforms like Threads, Bluesky, Mastodon, and Nostr. This is likely because these platforms are relatively new and have yet to have the time to reach the same level of adoption as their more established counterparts.

Among these up-and-coming social media platforms, 46% of Gen Z and 31% of Millennials seem familiar with Threads. However, these numbers dwindle with age. Also, even among the younger generations, there isn’t much familiarity with the likes of other apps like Bluesky, Mastodon, and Nostr — all of which are decentralized social media platforms .

This juxtaposition of familiar and unfamiliar platforms highlights the tension between comfort and curiosity. So, given the reluctance to embrace newer platforms, could the allure of decentralized platforms encourage these users to step into uncharted digital territory? And most importantly, do people understand what decentralized social media platforms are all about?

Awareness about decentralized media

38% of the survey respondents said they understand the basics of decentralized social media platforms, showcasing a growing awareness of the concept. And 27% have heard of it but need more information on how it works, and 14% feel they are knowledgeable in the concept. It is possible that more users will turn away from centralized social platforms as they gain a deeper understanding of the advantages decentralized platforms can offer.

Features Shaping the Future of Social Media

In the rapidly shifting landscape of social media, users pursue platforms that resonate with their values, provide simplicity, and offer a sense of empowerment. The journey to discover these coveted features takes us through a maze of desires closely tied to the very essence of decentralized social media.

A Battle Cry for Privacy and Security

Social media has become one of the prime avenues for hackers to gain control over personal information. In fact, Facebook has suffered eight breaches since its launch, affecting over 2 billion users. And LinkedIn has faced four breaches in the past, exposing the personal information of over 231 million users.

With the recent incidents of data breaches and scandals through social media platforms, more people are becoming increasingly concerned about protecting their data. Recent statistics show that 54% of people don’t trust social media companies to protect their personal information, and 49% aren’t comfortable sharing their personal information with social media companies.

So when we asked our survey respondents about the most crucial feature they consider in a social media platform, it’s no surprise that 54% of participants chose privacy and security.

Most important features in social media platforms

Besides privacy and security features, user-friendliness is the most important feature for 28% of the respondents. And 10% voted for strict rules for content moderation, voicing a need for an internet free from offensive content.

And here's exactly where decentralized platforms excel . They tick almost all the boxes that social media users prioritize. They empower users with control over their data and finances , aligning remarkably well with the yearning for a shielded digital realm. They often rely on user-driven moderation. So, it’s possible that the landscapes governed by users could be the solution to creating a healthier online space that caters to the need for mindful content.

So it’s a no-brainer that when we asked them about the features that would coax them to switch to a decentralized social media platform from a traditional one, over 52% chose improved privacy and security.

Concern about social media power over user data and content

A Safe Space That Guards Personal Data

As users reflect on social media's impact on their data and content, a range of concerns emerges. Majority (62%) expressed some level of concern about social media's power over user data and content with 42% saying they were somewhat concerned, and 20% expressing extreme concern.

Top features that would make users switch

This is further reflected in the survey responses when 53% expressed better control over personal data as the main feature that would make them switch to decentralized social media. This yearning intertwines with their concerns, painting a clear picture: users aspire to have a say in their digital footprints.

Users demanding control is their defense against concerns about data breaches, misinformation, and content control. It's an active move to shape their digital experiences, safeguarding their data against potential pitfalls — which is exactly what decentralized social media is all about.

An Ad-Free Oasis

Many people are tired of platforms that bombard them with ads. And this discontent is apparent, with 32% longing for ad-free platforms and subscription plans.

Ads can be disruptive and annoying, interrupting the user experience and detracting from the content users are trying to consume. Moreover, ads can be invasive, using personal data to target users with highly specific and often unwanted ads. An ad-free platform could provide a peaceful digital space where users can discover content without interference from invasive promotions.

The Ability to Be Anonymous

Surprisingly, almost 31% of ​​the respondents would choose a decentralized social media platform if it offers anonymity. This reveals a strong desire for unbridled expression without the shackles of identity.

This desire for anonymity is understandable, given the numerous concerns around privacy and data security in the digital landscape. By allowing users to be anonymous, decentralized platforms can offer a space where users can express themselves freely and without fear of retribution or judgment.

Better Freedom of Expression

A significant 27% of respondents express a powerful desire for less censorship. This yearning underscores the call for a platform that champions open discourse, free from undue restrictions. Decentralized platforms, anchored in community-driven governance, stand as beacons of hope, fostering an environment where users actively shape the boundaries of acceptable content.

Such platforms provide a space that allows users to freely discuss controversial topics and develop their understanding instead of relying on centralized authorities to dictate which topics are acceptable and which are not. This promotes an environment of intellectual exploration and encourages users to think for themselves.

Piecing the Puzzle

The puzzle pieces fit uncannily well. Privacy, transparency, user-friendliness, and responsible curation are sought-after attributes. And here's where decentralized platforms shine. They promise control over personal data, transparent governance, and community-curated content. This alignment hints at a potential revolution in the digital landscape, where decentralized platforms could become a powerful force for change .

Seeing that people prefer the very features that decentralized social media underscores, how do they feel about switching to them? Let’s find out.

Unveiling the Canvas of Decentralized Social Media: Hope, Skepticism, and Challenges

As delve deeper into the specifics of decentralized social media, respondents hold a diverse range of views. Some view them as a promising path to a more transparent and democratic digital world. Others, however, express concerns about potential challenges and uncertainties.

Let's take a closer look at these varied perspectives that could impact the future of decentralized social media.

Pondering About the Democracy of Moderation

One of the main features that appeal to the people about decentralized social media is the choice for user participation for governance and content moderation. But the bigger question is: Will this effectively tackle hate speech, misinformation, and fake accounts?

The survey results show a dynamic belief system. 34% of the respondents place their faith in the power of community-driven approaches, envisioning them as potent tools against hate speech, misinformation, and fake accounts. Contrarily, 16% advocate for a centralized authority, viewing it as more adept at handling such challenges. However, the majority, 50%, stands at the crossroads, highlighting the delicate balance between user engagement and platform policies.

[Chart 10: Bar chart to depict the answers to the Q: Decentralized social media platforms often rely on user participation for governance and content moderation. Do you believe this approach could effectively tackle hate speech, misinformation, and fake accounts?]

Anticipating Obstacles on the Horizon

As much as decentralized social media seems promising, users anticipate potential challenges in the future. Over 48% foresee a dearth of understanding about decentralized technology, and another 41% predict resistance from entrenched centralized platforms and tech giants.

Regulatory hurdles and uncertainties about decentralization's future stir concerns for 35%, while technical limitations and scalability issues garner the attention of 31%. These worries form a tapestry of obstacles that decentralization must navigate. From educating the public on the benefits of decentralized technology and making it easier to use to addressing regulatory uncertainty and scalability issues, much work must be done to realize the full potential of this emerging technology.

User sentiments toward decentralized social media

Walking the Line of Hope and Curiosity

The survey respondents oscillated on the scale between hopeful and curious to skepticism and fear when asked about their opinion on decentralized social media.

A remarkable 25% of respondents hold on to a vision of fair and more transparent platforms. This sentiment resonates with a collective yearning for an online realm characterized by openness and honesty.

Amid the landscape of promise, there lies a blend of anxiety and intrigue. 13% acknowledge a fear accompanying the unknown, concerned about potential misuse and the lack of content moderation. On the other hand, a substantial 39% approach decentralized platforms with curiosity, drawn by the allure of understanding their benefits and drawbacks. This curiosity signifies a readiness to explore — albeit with caution — the uncharted territories of decentralized social media.

Potential challenges with widespread of adoption of decentralized social media

In the face of these insights, users contemplate the role of decentralized platforms in the broader landscape. 18% stand firm in their belief that decentralized social media has the potential to replace traditional channels. 10% dismiss this idea entirely, while 41% envision a future where the shift might be possible but not yet. It's not surprising that these perspectives mirror the uncertainty that accompanies disruptive transformations.

People are unsure since decentralized social media brings about a lot of unknowns, such as how it will be regulated or how it will impact existing social media platforms. Additionally, it's difficult to predict how it will be adopted, as people are used to the convenience of traditional, centralized social media platforms.

The emergence of decentralized social media has raised questions about its potential to revolutionize how people communicate and access information. While some are confident that it can replace traditional social media platforms, others are skeptical that the technology isn’t mature enough to support a lasting shift.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by Pollfish and surveyed 1,500 people from the US, spanning different generations, professions, and genders. Respondents were chosen randomly at large and were given multiple-choice answers to choose from.

Fair Use Statement

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Rebecca David

Rebecca David

Media Relations Coordinator

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