Web3 keeps trying to fix social media
With every year, social media is taking an increasingly important role in all aspects of our lives: leisure, work, business, learning… At the same time, the structure of social media does not change at all: your social profile, together with all its connections, followers, and posts, is stored on one company’s servers, and if that company decides they no longer need you, they are free to delete your account unilaterally.
This can be unpleasant for a regular social media user, and life-changing for a person who has built a business off their profile.
This inherent uncertainty makes social media one of the most promising domains for web3, and many projects have tried to use the blockchain to create better social media: Steemit, Ecency…etc. However, the one that has come closer than others to formulating a viable social DApp approach is Lens Protocol 🌿
Its popularity is growing fast, despite it still being closed to the general public: only 116k whitelisted profiles have been minted so far, but their activity is intensifying:
Lens is not one DApp, but an infrastructure on which people can build theirs, leveraging the main innovation it offers – a decentralized composable and portable social graph. In other words, the records of user profile, their connections, posts, and interactions, which are stored in a decentralized way and can be carried from one Dapp to another.
User profile is created as an NFT pointing to a data storage (decentralized like IPFS or Arweave, or even centralized like AWS), which keeps a record of the profile. A network of interconnected profiles makes up the Lens’ graph database.
Lens team (which is an extension of the famous DeFi protocol Aave’s) prides itself in making the protocol modular, which makes it easier for them to introduce upgrades (which should be voted in by the community), and also easier for third-party developers to build their DApps, introducing unique custom functionalities.
Lens is built on Polygon, Ethereum’s layer-2, which already offers high transaction throughput. However, social networks require a whole new level of scalability, and last week Lens team introduced Momoka, a layer-3 “hyperscaling” solution, to ensure the protocol can scale.
This new approach to social media is poised to improve the sector’s main pain points:
💾 Data ownership: users own the NFTs representing their social profiles, they can take them to different Lens-based platforms, or even sell them (the floor price of a Lens profile NFT is now 0.1 ETH);
🕵️ Authentication: with all activity recorded, the issue of fake accounts is much easier to tackle;
💰 Monetization: creators can set a Collect option when posting a publication to their profile NFT and allow their followers to purchase the publication as an NFT.
Lens protocol was released just a year ago, but there are already several DApps up and running:
Lenster – a decentralized version of Facebook, probably the most advanced of Lens Dapps with 44% of Lens active users. The presence of the popular information resources, such as Bankless or Messari, which now post regularly on Lenster, is definitely driving the adoption;
Phaver – a decentralized version of Instagram, mobile only and 23% of total Lens users. Phaver incentivizes users to vote (“stake”) on the content, remunerating those who voted early for a popular post;
Lenstube – a decentralized Youtube;
Kaira – a decentralized (and simplified) Twitter;
Collectz – an NFT marketplace …
Other Dapps are in various stages of development and testing.
Lens protocol is winning the hearts of crypto enthusiasts fast, but whether it will be able to attract non-crypto communities is a bet. It also has competition: alternative decentralized social media Nostr, leveraging Bitcoin and Lightning Network ⚡, already counts over 1 million users.
Also, Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky – which also promises to fix social media via decentralization – is already in closed beta.
Good news is that the number of initiatives and different tech solutions trying to fix social media is increasing, and we might even someday get off the hook of Meta and Co 👋