More companies, countries and capital firms are embracing bitcoin than ever before. Notably, Jack Dorsey recently announced that Twitter would allow for users to tip other content writers on Twitter using bitcoin. This is welcome news because it shows another use case for bitcoin as a currency and pushes the world closer to “hyperbitcoinization.” However, while it is nice that Twitter is facilitating bitcoin donations through their platform, this isn’t adequate. In keeping with the ethos of Bitcoin, Twitter and other social media platforms should embrace paying all of their users a bitcoin dividend for using the site.
Twitter created its tip jar as a way to pay its content creators. It does so by allowing fans to tip their favorite content creators. Twitter is, however, a multi-billion dollar company whose value directly comes from selling its users’ data to advertisers. While most of us are aware of how Twitter and other social media websites monetize, we rarely view ourselves as being the product that Twitter sells. We should also consider that social media companies are known for using predatory tactics to make their content more addictive and toxic, as evidenced by Instagram’s recently leaked report. As a result of this predatory environment designed to profit off of our usage, perhaps we should all — both influencers and regular users — demand to be paid for creating content. It is time they start paying users, no matter how small they are, for creating content. For upvotes, shares and retweets, users could get paid in bitcoin proportional to the engagement that their posts bring to the website. Users are the unpaid labor force of these social media companies.
Many social media founders, for example Jack Dorsey, claim to embrace bitcoin’s philosophy. Integral to that philosophy is the ethos of decentralization. This decentralization should be applied to monetization for users.
Platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat have dividend-like monetization programs for influencers where the content creators get a slice of the advertising money that is poured into the platforms. Of course, these monetization programs as they exist now are somewhat elitist in the sense that there are rigid barriers for entry. I create content on YouTube. For the first year and one month I brought roughly 100,000 views and over 5,000 watch hours to the platform, but was still unable to monetize my content because YouTube requirements state that in order to be part of their monetization program you need 1,000 subscribers (I eventually hit this number in July of 2021 and started getting paid). TikTok and Snapchat are similar in their barriers to monetization. There are other platforms that are paying content creators in various cryptocurrencies for making content, but they lack scale and none are bitcoin only.
Now, does it seem ambitious to think that companies like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook would pay us to use their social media? Yes. However, it is important to start thinking about what that world would look like once we approach hyperbitcoinization. That is a world in the vein of John F. Kennedy’s moonshot mission, one of forward thinking, equity and optimism. In that world, bitcoin would be a borderless, permissionless and censorship-resistant primary form of currency and there would be radical changes to how we operate.
When YouTube originally started paying its content creators, few would have forseen the creator economy as it is today, with thousands making their careers through YouTube, Twitch, TikTok and other platforms. By extending bitcoin dividend payments to their unpaid labor force, social media companies would be helping to facilitate the adoption of a borderless, permissionless and censorship resistant form of global currency. If a notable amount of influential content creators began to demand the dividend, social media companies would be forced to reckon with these demands. The creator economy has far more power than it may realize, and demands laid upon the platforms which empower them can have great sway. Given the simultaneous fear of artificial intelligence taking many jobs and the growth of the creator economy, perhaps the bitcoin dividend is not just logical, it is imminent!
This is a guest post by Jacob Kozhipatt. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.