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Houston Matters

Houston-Based Social Media Site Hopes To Put Users Back In Control Of Their Data

The site Social Chains aims to give users control of how their personal data is used.

A screen capture from the Houston-based social media site, Social Chains.


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All it takes to create an account on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is a working email address and sometimes a cell phone number. From there, you can start posting and sharing photos and updates as yourself – or masquerading as someone else.

A new Houston-based social media site called Social Chains looks to change that – and at the same time allow users more control of how their data is used.

A screen capture from the Houston-based social media site, Social Chains.

First, it starts with pretty rigorous identity verification. After supplying an email and a phone number like other sites, users have to submit a government-issued ID. The site uses facial recognition software to match that ID with a photo of yourself.

Once you clear those hurdles, Social Chains works pretty much like Facebook – except the site never sells your personal data. Instead of bombarding you with ads, the site might help match you with providers of a service that fits your needs – but only if you seek it out.

Plus, it incorporates its own virtual currency so when those kinds of transactions are completed, the user makes a percentage of the profits.

It's all the idea of Srini Katta. A few years back, he found himself fed up with the mainstream social media sites and wanted to put users back in control of a lot of aspects – and he especially wanted to stop companies from making money off our personal data they collect and sell.

Srini Katta, founder of the Houston-based social media site Social Chains.

"Data is the new oil," he said. "For example, if an oil company comes and wants to drill on our land for oil we expect a royalty. Why data should be different?"

In the audio above, Katta tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty how the site works, what it will take to succeed, and why he wanted to base it in Houston – not Silicon Valley or Austin.

MORE: Srini Katta Interview (Houston Chronicle, March 8, 2019)