Social media has become very central to our lives. It serves as a key source of information that influences many aspects of our lives, from our purchase decisions to our belief systems.
But the present social media platforms are way too centralized. With billions of dollars involved and industry players competing for their dominance, it is a serious concern.
Problems like lack of user control over privacy and frequent data breaches are growing. Creators & developers also have limited freedom and risk being shut down or shadow-banned due to unintentional policy violations or unwelcome moderation.
We need a solution to this.
This is where web3 social media comes in. It's a decentralized social platform where big tech can’t abuse user data, the community holds decision-making power, and protocols are open-source, so developers can build permissionlessly.
But what exactly is web3 social media? And what advantages does decentralization bring to social media?
In this blog post, we will explain everything you need to know about web3 social media: what it is, what its advantages are, and some examples.
Why is social media broken?
While the Web2 social media platforms let us connect with each other, its current state is plagued with multiple hitches. Here are some of the major concerns with traditional social media platforms.
Platforms like YouTube and Twitch possess centralized decision-making powers, leading to arbitrary advertising and content policies. This results in unexplained account closures and demonetizations, affecting creators' livelihoods.
Ownership and censorship
Major platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, hold the power to take away user handles and content, highlighting that users do not truly own their digital assets or identities. This structure can lead to potential censorship and loss of users' digital rights.
Even platforms that support community-driven content, like Reddit, can change their API policies unexpectedly. This can result in third-party applications, like the one developed by our engineer with 100k+ downloads, being shut down without valid explanations or recourse.
Web3 promises a fix i.e. the decentralization of social platforms using blockchain and on-chain identities to give back users' data and privacy control.
What is web3 social media?
Web3 social media refers to social platforms that operate on distributed networks – using smart contracts and decentralized storage systems. They aim to empower users with full control over their data and to foster an environment free from censorship.
The idea is to minimize or negate the control of central entities over how a social media platform functions. And instead, put users of the platform in control through a governance mechanism.
This would mean that no central entity can autonomously acquire, use, or sell user data. Besides, policy changes around privacy, monetization, and other aspects would only take place through a consensus among the users of the platform
What are the advantages of web3 social media?
Web3 social media aims to finally bring balance to social media platforms, where businesses, developers, creators, and users can all win. Let's see what advantages they promise.
Decentralization of the social graph for users
Platforms like Instagram and Twitter track and control who users are connected with, their friends, and followers to create a social graph. They then use this data to attract advertisers on the platform. In the process, user privacy is compromised
Web3 social media takes a decentralized and user-first approach, enabling users to truly own and independently manage their audiences and interactions. They give users back control over their social graph. Lens Protocol is one of the finest existing examples of this.
Web3 social media apps often have a decentralized protocol architecture rather than being owned and controlled by a single company.
For instance, Farcaster is a decentralized social networking protocol that implements a "Hubs" model. Hubs are nodes that store and broadcast messages in real-time in peer-to-peer fashion. They provide users with permissionless access to data and also decentralize the network.
Permissionless interoperability and composability
Web3’s permissionless nature means developers need not build from scratch. They can build new apps, features, or tools on top of existing protocols and grow the ecosystem freely. This fosters an interconnected ecosystem where different applications can co-exist and synergize.
Both Lens Protocol and Farcaster let developers build apps permissionlessly on their networks. This results in a rich diversity of clients, apps, and organizations collaborating and developing together.
Examples of successful web3 social platforms
Here are some of the most popular web3 social examples.
Farcaster is a protocol for decentralized social apps. Users can interact, send texts, and use multiple apps together by connecting their wallets. Its hybrid system enables users to truly own their audience and transfer their identities across applications to advantage of other services.
Lens Protocol is a social graph based on the Polygon blockchain. A social graph is a database of content and connections of each individual. Lens also has several other unique features like composability with web3 apps, token-gated content, profile manager, revenue splitting, and more.
Orb is a social media app built on Lens protocol, where individuals & organizations can connect with their communities, own and post any content- music, podcasts, videos, etc. and monetize as they wish.
How to build in web3 social?
Define Your Purpose
Decide whether you want to build a protocol from scratch or a dApp on top of existing protocols like Farcaster and Lens Protocol.
By utilizing existing protocols, you can focus more on the app's functionalities, its user interface, and integrate it with ecosystem apps. However, building a protocol grants you more freedom to set rules and decide how users and applications interact.
Here are important components you will need when building a web3 social platform:
- Remote procedure call node: RPC node is essential for interacting with blockchain networks and their smart contracts. It acts as a bridge, letting your application send and receive data from the blockchain.
- Code Logic: Smart contracts define the interaction of users and features. It can be used to manage user identities, content, etc., that allows users to own their information and automate processes.
- Decentralized Storage: Developers use a decentralized storage system to store and preserve all user data like posts, media, and profiles and make it available for integration with smart contracts.
User Experience (UX)
Aim for a UX that's intuitive, drawing inspiration from mainstream social platforms but enriched with unique web3 features. Such a design simplifies user onboarding, profile set-up, content posting, and community interactions.
For a great app-building experience, leverage tools that offer integration capabilities, smart contract management, and analytics, like the thirdweb dashboard. Such tools streamline the development process, making it more efficient and effective.
The potential and promise of Web3 social media
Web3 social is about building a decentralized social graph for users & creators to communicate and monetize their community. And thanks to web3’s open source and transparent nature, developers can build new apps and tools permissionless using existing protocols and resources
Imagine Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube sharing one protocol: if one app fails, users seamlessly migrate to another on the same protocol, retaining their audience and connections. This represents the future's resilient social ecosystem.
We hope this blog helped you better understand what web3 social media is, its advantages over centralized social platforms, and how to build them.
And if you want to build the next generation of decentralized social apps or any EVM-compatible blockchain, get started with thirdweb's web3 tools and SDKs — they're free!