Steemit had the unique advantage of being the first mover in the space but has failed so miserably to stand up why a decentralized social media was created in the first place. The recent change of management of Steemit vividly showed this. Instead of trust there was hatred, instead of free speech there was bigotry, instead of inclusivity, there was racism.
Those who lorded the platform for several years initiated a pre-emptive strike to freeze assets of Justin Sun (assets that were part of Steemit Inc stake on STEEM) who was a threat to them in terms of maintaining power. As they held Justin's assets hostage they negotiated to only release the funds so long as the funds will be used for the development of Steem and the communities. Development projects they control and communities who are cohorts to their circle-jerking party.
There are those who want to give Justin Sun the benefit of the doubt and would like to see the changes implemented to make the platform more fair and inclusive. Most of them remained silent as not to attract vindictive Steemian whales and their community cohorts who for several years have benefitted from the vast disparity of opportunity in the platform. But those who did was shunned, insulted and bullied.
The Korean community and Steemians users who were vocal on their support for a more diplomatic approach were attacked. They have become the primary targets of downvotes of the previously ruling steemians and its community cohorts that stand to lose much of their power and influence. Much of these communities are after all benefitting from Steem power borrowed from Steemit Inc. who for several years generously shared its influence and power to these communities.
This started a governance war where Justin asked the help of centralized exchanges and used his much bigger war chest to support his own witnesses with the primary objective of having his frozen assets released. With all the tough talk and bravado coming from a very aggressive group of people who labels themselves as the duly elected government of the Steem, they did not last a month fighting for STEEM as one of the most influential witnesses decided hard fork steem to create a new one called Hive after Steemit inc finally decided to remove the vested steem on communities that have been hostile towards its new management.
One would expect with the new Hard Fork the situation will shimmer down. This is far from true as many of the witnesses and their cohorts remain in the platform to troll and spam STEEM. Steemit Inc is fighting back by using its enormous power to flag (downvote) trolls and spammers. The trolls and spammers are now crying out for being censored. Amazingly, what they have been doing (downvotes) for years which they justify as protecting Steemit from spam and low-value content became censorship when the tables turned against them and they become the recipient.
So what are the lessons learned from the first generation blockchain-based social media? First,dPOS is not a democracy, neither it is a more democratic blockchain. It resembles more of a stock where those with more stocks have more say on the platform. This incentivizes mafia mentality where those different ruling parties protect each other to maintain their power and influence, well until the time a more powerful entity enters like Justin Sun.
Second, dPoS needs additional safeguards to protect rights to ownership of digital assets. While most are focusing on how the governance was easily overturned by Justin Sun, very few seem to acknowledge the danger of having assets easily ceased when a few groups of witnesses decided to include code that effectively limits access of rightful owners.
Third, decentralization fails if it empowers bigots, haters, hypocrites, and racist. The whole incident has been an eye-opener to many in the Steemian community especially those who chose to watch on the sidelines. It showed the true characters of the witnesses and their agenda.
Finally, Steem presents an interesting problem with decentralization. Is true decentralization can be achieved? Perhaps partial or relativistic decentralization is more attainable. Only time will tell but hopefully, everyone can learn from what has happened on Steem and should serve a reality check to many projects who labels themselves decentralized but do not adhere to the very principles why decentralization is highly valued in the first place: inclusivity, censorship-resistant, freedom to do what is right, transparency, equal opportunity and protection of human rights.