Blockchain Solutions to The Social Dilemma

If there is a single keyword to the solution to the Social Dilemma from a Blockchain perspective, it is “decentralization.” It means that there is no entity large enough to control the flow of information.

The rise of blockchain technology over the last decade has sparked an unprecedented amount of innovation in the search for reliable and decentralized systems that can replace the centralized systems that exist today,


The recently released documentary: The Social Dilemma, has done a great job at exposing the importance of our personal information to the masses.

Before watching this documentary, it was already common knowledge that large corporations such as Facebook, Google or Amazon make money out of our information. It’s the tradeoff between the utility you get from the tools they provide, versus the money they make from your information. I think it is safe to assume that most people have been OK with that exchange to a certain extent, for as long as they don’t go too far…

The novelty of the documentary is that it shows, with clear examples, the extent to which these companies have been able to deviate from the common practice of trading utility for money, to a more sinister direction.

Trading utility for money has been part of human history for at least the last 6,000 years (History of Money on Wikipedia). It is a concept that is ingrained in our minds today and has been a cornerstone of our civilization. It is a central point of any serious political system or economic model. 

To be clear, utility here is not in the context of utilitarianism. We use utility in the sense of providing value in one way or another. It could be tangible or intangible.

What is the issue?

We have experienced several manipulations of this utility-for-money principle before. There are many examples in which the party providing the utility has misled and deceived their customers. Some common ones are: Ponzi schemes where the provider of utility gets money under false promises, or the infamous Syphilis vaccine study at Tuskegee, in which scientists essentially treated humans like lab rats, making them think they were getting a cure when in fact they weren’t and were just monitoring the progress of the sickness. When these situations are identified, they are typically outlawed.

Nevertheless, the exponential nature of technological advancements over the last 40 years has provided new ways in which a utility provider can deceive their customers and also ways in which a third party bad actor can manipulate the provider’s utility to deceive the customers or users. Some common examples of this are seen in pumps and dumps and insider trading in the stock market.

While I am a big cheerleader of the exponential growth of technology because of the innumerable benefits it brings to society, I am not blind to its dangers. it also comes with increasingly important consequences from nefarious acts and increasingly important benefits to nefarious agents if they are not caught or stopped.

The situation presented in The Social Dilemma, is that technology has grown to a point where it is possible today for a private company to violate the principle of utility for money and to engage in deeply deceptive and misleading manipulation of their customers at a global scale with relative impunity.

How we got here

It would be impossible to fit all the factors that would explain how today’s situation happened in a single article. However, there are certainly a few that have been staring at us in the face for years and we keep failing to seriously address them:

  • The longstanding business practice of growing revenues year over year excerpts constant pressure on executives. Eventually plateaus are reached where it is not possible to just grow the consumer population or to add enough meaningful utility to existing tools at the same rate as the company used to. This causes people to start flirting with morally gray areas which are easily confused with innovation when there is no moral guide.
  • Some sectors of the economy are heavily dominated by large players. Stifling innovation is common practice in some of the large corporations with the purpose of preserving their supremacy over the sector. One common example is seen in oil companies. They have been lobbying and playing every trick in the book to successfully delay the progress of renewable energies.
  • The astronomical amount of revenue generated by these large corporations allows them to buy their competitors and to spend previously unthinkable amounts of money on finding ways to manipulate people at a psychological level. One of the examples for these manipulations are subliminal messages that we cannot consciously see, but that our unconscious does pick up on. The most blatantly unethical ones get outlawed , but there are still plenty of ways subliminal advertising is being used today. If you want an example, you can read up on John Vicary.
  • Politicians are supposed to make good money so that they cannot easily be bought. However, this is clearly not working for many reasons beyond the scope of this article. It is common knowledge that all these companies with big pockets donate to politicians to further their causes and in many cases even engage in untraceable and unprovable fraud. There may be no proof to accuse politicians of this, but it is obvious and again, ask anyone, they know it, you know it…
  • Technology is unbiased, it progresses and evolves, rapidly. On the other hand, people’s philosophies are usually biased and evolve very slowly. It takes time for the government to understand the depth of the issue, to catch up with it and to put safeguards in place. This single point puts a ticking bomb on the current political systems if it doesn’t evolve fast enough. Eventually, technology will advance so fast that by the time the government catches up with one wave of innovation, it will be too late and irreparable damage will have been caused. Social media platforms have existed for over a decade now and here we are, with a social dilemma…

Potential Solutions From the Crypto and Blockchain Space

For the sake of not exploding this article into a book of details, I will only scratch the surface of the potential solutions being explored through the Blockchain technology. I encourage you to do your own research on these to form your own opinion.

If there is a single keyword to the solution to the Social Dilemma from a Blockchain perspective, it is “decentralization.” In loose terms, it means that there is no entity large enough to control the flow of information. With this keyword, you can search for decentralized internet, decentralized finance, decentralized governance and so on; answers will lead you to the Blockchain. The rise of blockchain technology over the last decade, has sparked an unprecedented amount of innovation in the search for reliable and decentralized systems, that can replace the centralized systems that exist today. We are not talking about the little things in life here, we are talking about top level structural stuff, such as: the rules of how money is printed, revolutionizing the banking system, automatic contracts, streamlining proof of ownership, un-hackable storage of information and much more!

Long story short, blockchain works and is here to stay/ It is a superior technology to the centralized systems built before, as much as the internet is a superior technology to the printing press… Yeah, exactly like that picture that just crossed your mind. There are already well over 5,000 blockchain projects in existence with a total valuation of over $300 Billion. See for yourself at coinmarketcap.

Out of those thousands of projects, I will only mention only one here which directly tackles the social dilemma, head on.


One of the objectives of Blockstack is to give you control over your data.

Let’s use Facebook as an example. If Facebook was an app built to be compatible with the Blockstack protocol, instead of you handing over your data to Facebook, your information would be held in a server location that only you control. You would simply allow Facebook to access your data to display it in the Facebook platform. You would have the keys to control what they see, how they use it and when you want to break your relationship with them.

Unfortunately, Facebook is not built within the Blockstack protocol, so any comment you enter into facebook, every picture, every click and every second you spend there is logged on Facebook’s computers and then used to figure out what makes you tick and to make you spend the most time possible in their app regardless of whether it’s good for you, or ethical, or safe. All that matters to them is: more time on Facebook = more money for Facebook.

This is a difficult topic to only discuss through words only, so I created the visuals below in the hope of clearing things out.

How it currently works

How it would work with Blockstack

As you can see in the visuals, there is an important philosophical difference between how it works today and how it would work with blockstack. There are a few additional things worth noting that are not part of the images and could be potential game changers:

  • Migrating to a different platform could become a thing, and you are no longer handcuffed to the one dominant platform: Since you own your information in Blockstack, you would be able to break your relationship with any app such as Blockstack’s Facebook at any time without losing any of your data. Then you would be able to point that data to a new Blockstack Social Media app of your preference. 
  • The social media platform no longer determines who you can reach: You are not constrained to only see people who are in the same app. Since you control your information and everyone else controls theirs, you could be using one social media platform and adding a friend that uses a different social media platform.
  • No body owns it: It is hard to imagine if you are not familiar with blockchain, but it is a thing as real as you are reading this right now. Blockstack is not owned by any individual or company. No one has ownership over Blockstack as much as no one has ownership over the internet. This means that Blockstack also does not own any of the apps that use their protocol. Saying that Blockstack owns the apps would be like saying that the internet owns Facebook. Again, if you are not familiar with blockchain, this sounds totally illogical. but I promise you, it’s not. Self-sustainable systems are not just coming, they have already landed and there is no stopping them.
  • Centralized applications do not work in Blockstack (read that again): I used the Facebook logo to illustrate a Blockstack’s Facebook, but it is unlikely that Facebook will build a second version of its app for Blockstack because it directly interferes with its business model. Therefore, you are unlikely to see Facebook itself on Blockstack. It would most likely be a new social media app. The same applies to all others logos depicted in the images.
  • The Blockstack protocol is currently in testing phase and is unlikely to provide the capability to build the same user friendliness that centralized apps provide within the next 2-3 years, probably 5+ years. I know, bummer. That’s why it’s the last bullet!

Nevertheless! If you have been a victim of the way large corporations have been abusing their power over your data, this social media utopia is probably exciting to you. The good news is that disrupting technology is on the way and this is just the tip of the iceberg. What we know is that large corporations are not loyal to any of us and they would turn us into slaves given the chance; they are already given a free pass at slaving our attention. Wouldn’t you agree?

What comes next?

A few people I know have already left social media due to incompatible principles. But for those who are not yet ready, or willing to cut the cord like myself, my recommendation is to keep an open eye and an open ear to the developments in the space, to share socially responsible platforms that will take us in the right direction and to not think twice about the damage Facebook and the like have done when the time comes to let them go. They could have done it right, but chose not to. In parallel, too many politicians have turned a blind eye to the issues of privacy and what these companies can do. Hold them accountable, ask them to do more and vote them out if they don’t. 

In an effort to keep this article concise, I have left out some important topics related to the proposed solution of decentralization. Do let me know in the comments below if you would like to hear more about this. Some of the additional topics left out are:

  • Governments are not immune to the decentralization disruption that Blockchain offers. There is already strong resistance to change from the people in power to give up any amount of power and to allow for more transparency. What should we expect from them during this inevitable transition?
  • Decentralization puts into question the Leviathan from Thomas Hobbes. Can it stay the same, does it adapt and evolve, does it die?
  • Amazon’s common practice of copying successful products and driving inventors out of business is as big of a topic that would make for a good part 2 of the Social Dilemma. Blockchain also offers solutions there. Interested?

What about you? Do you disagree that The Social Dilemma is a real issue? Do you have any good ideas to tackle it? Do you know of important work being done to counter it that more people should know about?

Let me know in the comments!

Related Posts

Break Free From The Loop of Not Reaching Your Goals: The Ultimate No-BS Guide

Break Free From The Loop of Not Reaching Your Goals: The Ultimate No-BS Guide

Discover how to break free from the stagnation cycle and transform your goal-setting approach for better results. This insightful guide offers a practical strategy focused on simplifying your goals, committing to daily progress, and understanding the power of singular focus. Apply these principles and begin your journey of focused achievement today. Remember, slow and steady does win the race, after all.

read more
The Erosion of Nuance in an Extremist Society

The Erosion of Nuance in an Extremist Society

In an era where sensationalism and extremism often overshadow the truth, we’re caught in a strategically designed battlefield. This orchestrated tug-of-war exploits our instinctual fight or flight reflex, forcing us into divisive corners. This calculated assault on our senses has started to corrode our capacity for critical thought, empathy, and shared understanding. Discover how this pervasive issue has seeped into our social, political, and cultural conversations, and what we can do to reclaim the narrative.

read more

About the Author

E. R. Leyva

Author of Life, The Answer. Writing is a process that allows me to capture ideas, to organize them, and to keep refining them over and over until they come together like a jigsaw puzzle, revealing what was previously hidden in plain sight.



  1. Yuri

    I finished the docummentary with very little hope and many concerns. Glad to have read this, it gives hopes.

    By the way you described Blockchain it sounds like it has the potential to better safeguard children surfing the web from target adds?

    Would love to hear more about Amazon’s copying products.

    • Ernesto R. Leyva

      You bring up a good point about better safeguards for children on the web. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any project with a specific focus on that, but that may just be my own ignorance as I only know about less than 1% of the projects out there. Also, the technology is still at an infant stage when it comes to mainstream adoption and this topic tends to fall behind on people’s priorities. Nevertheless, the automation that blockchain offers could offer solutions on two fronts:

      1. From the user side- With blockchain, the internet could automatically understand when a person is underaged based on them logging in with their unique ID or other methods and restrict content that is not appropriate for them.
      2. From the provider side- Automated or semi-automated regulation mechanisms allowing a government, or private companies, or the internet users themselves to restrict content to minors by flagging that content or voting on it for example.

      It wouldn’t be easy to come up with the correct systems to do these things, but I don’t see them as impossible either. I’m sure this topic will become more prevalent once decentralized projects built with blockchain technology become serious challengers to the centralized systems of today.

  2. Yara Helou

    This was such a compelling documentary, I’ve watched it twice! I think we should add more regulations to the tech industry and promote humane and ethical technology, particularly when writing code and algorithms.
    Its been interesting to see the E.U’s approach to safeguarding ‘users’ from this. They have been more politically active and trying to implement more rules and regulations around big tech companies.

    • Ernesto R. Leyva

      Completely agree, regulation is how we typically get these things under control and I too think we are seeing a lack of it, especially in the USA. I think the difficulty lies in striking the right balance between regulation and innovation.

      Sadly in the US we have this constant, extremist battle of regulation vs deregulation between the two top political parties. What we are seeing is that with the amount of money the top tech companies make, deregulation no longer means free market, it means the companies themselves do the regulation, so the deregulation option goes out the window. The government really needs to come to the table, look for middle ground and put guardrails around this madness.

      We keep seeing time and again that when companies become the regulators for lack of government leadership, they actually stifle innovation until they can no longer hold it back.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *