BitClout Is A New Platform Turning Social Media Influence Into Cryptocurrency

BitClout Is A New Platform Turning Social Media Influence Into Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency/social media hybrid, has raised interest (and suspicions) by linking monetary value with creator content.

BitClout is essentially an exchange where users buy and sell coins centred on a specific user’s social currency. The more popular a user is, the more they are worth in BitClout.

In a whitepaper, BitClout – which was founded by an anonymous user known only as ‘diamondhands’ – described itself as “a new type of social network that lets you speculate on people and posts with real money, and it’s built from the ground up as its own custom blockchain.”

“Its architecture is similar to Bitcoin, only it can support complex social network data like posts, profiles, follows, speculation features, and much more at significantly higher throughput and scale.”

The feed of BitClout looks very similar to Twitter’s. Indeed, the creators you can buy and sell coins of on BitClout had their profiles scraped non-consensually from the social media platform. The BitClout creators list is a list of the 15,000 most popular Twitter users.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a Facebook post asking that, “my name and photo be removed from the site immediately, as I have nothing to do with the platform. It is misleading and done without my permission.”

The statement came after a Singaporean publication found an account for the Prime Minister on BitClout.

Only a fraction of the 15,000 users have claimed their BitClout account.

Those who have claimed their BitClout account have a blue tick next to their name, while those without (including celebrities like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry) have a clock symbol.

Despite having yet to claim his account, Elon Musk is the top ‘creator’ on the site with a coin price of US$87, 311.91.

The choice to go ahead with this ‘opt-out’ model has been controversial. They have also received a legal notice from Anderson Kill P.C., a cryptocurrency law firm for using the ‘private information’ of Brandon Curtis, a product lead for Radar Relay, without consent.

BitClout’s whitepaper explains that, “the value of someone’s coin should be correlated to that person’s standing in society. For example, if Elon Musk succeeds in landing the first person on Mars, his coin price should theoretically go up. And if, in contrast, he makes a racial slur during a press conference, his coin price should theoretically go down.”

“Thus, people who believe in someone’s potential can buy their coin and succeed
with them financially when that person realizes their potential.”

Similarly to Bitcoin, BitClout does not have a company behind it. It’s an open source project.

Andrew Wilkinson, co-founder of internet business investment company Tiny, wrote on Twitter that, “on its face, Bitclout is really stupid…BUT, the idea is extremely interesting: creating a market based on betting on people and their content.”

He explained that BitClout “aligns the incentives of the audience and the influencer.”

“When people buy my coin, I get 10 per cent of the transaction credited to me (someone buys $100 of Andrew Coin, I get $10). The more popular Andrew Coin becomes, based on demand, the more our jointly owned coins goes up in value.”

The currency therefore comes from the social reputation of the creator.

Writer Jake Udell described BitClout as a response to increasing fears about censorship on social media.

On BitClout, “anyone can make a profile and moderate their own space without a centralized “arbiter of truth”. Since it’s decentralized with all data on the blockchain, there’s no app for the app store to shut down.”

Creators can completely control who interacts with them on BitClout, using features like users needing to own a certain amount of a creator’s coin to participate in the comments section. Creators also have an inbox where people can bid for them to repost something they posted.

“If you want Kim Kardashian to retweet your fashion brand, you can submit an entry into her inbox, and if she retweets it then she keeps your money,” explained the whitepaper.

“The bids can all be made using the creator’s own coin, thus significantly increasing the demand for the coin”

The ‘clout’ at the centre of the platform’s genesis is essentially getting a reward for spotting virality. It monetises content instead of just emphasising ‘sharing’, as Twitter and Facebook do.

“Ordinarily, retweeting someone gives you nothing,” said the whitepaper.

“If that person becomes a superstar because you boosted them, you’ll be lucky if they even remember your name in a few years. In contrast, with BitClout you can buy someone’s coin and then retweet them, which makes it so that you’re not only along for the ride financially if they blow up, but you also get bragging rights. Imagine the difference between being able to say “I retweeted her early on” vs being able to say “I bought her coin when it was $0.50 and now it’s $500– and by the way I’ve done this hundreds of times, and I can prove it because my track record is on the blockchain.” The latter is clearly a very different game.”

The consequences of this attitude towards online content creation will remain unclear until – and if – BitClout really takes off. Much of Twitter virality comes from small accounts who have one tweet that goes viral and whether BitClout is optimised for this version of popular content is debatable as it emphasises buying coins from accounts that are consistently followed or shared.

While you have to transfer actual money into BitClout, at the moment, you can’t take that money out as cash or as Bitcoin: it can only be used to buy creator coins.

Despite these concerns, celebrities like Pamela Anderson and the Winklevoss twins (who claim Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea of Facebook from them) have already begun their accounts.

Featured Image: iStock/tommy

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