As social media sizzles, decentralized competitors join the fray

It’s been a hot streak of storylines for major social media channels lately. All eyes were on the social when it came to crypto news and discourse. Announcements are often made through social channels like Twitter, community building for projects – whether DeFi or NFTs or anywhere in between – often takes place on social channels like Discord or Telegram, and other platforms are often used by crypto protocols and projects to communicate with the public, now more than ever.

With social media taking the spotlight, the door may be open for a new player to enter the room; In fact, not a single social platform has really made a splash in recent years, with the sole exception of TikTok. Many have tried, few have succeeded. The latest to enter the arena are decentralized social media protocols.

Current climate: pulse check

The social media conversation really needs to start with Twitter: it has become a cultural hub for crypto, a source for often breaking news, and a centerpiece for some of the biggest names in the space to speak out on current events. The infamous Sam Bankman-Fried and Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao have engaged in a heated back-and-forth chat on the platform; It’s easy to say that Twitter is the de facto hub for widespread crypto communities.

However, Twitter has seen recent discourse and mixed reviews under the short duration of Elon Musk’s oversight to date, and the impact on Twitter is huge and far-reaching. Yes, even the implications for Dogecoin are up for debate. Beyond Twitter, there have been mixed opinions about the extent to which social media is a “public space” that struggles against the ideals expected of public — or even private, in this case — platforms.

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In the past few days, we’ve seen Facebook dabble in exploratory blockchain-related projects — with limited success — and Reddit as another often-cited social media platform that has integrated crypto roots. Reddit has integrated Polygon for whitelabel NFT avatars and has historically used Ethereum for channel reward points on the r/cryptocurrency sub-Reddit.

Meanwhile, other legacy social platforms were, by and large, generally business as usual — and there hasn’t been a major social enterprise movement in the blockchain space since FTX. However, what has increasingly entered the mix is ​​decentralized social media protocols. Is the post-era “tokenize everything”… decentralize everything?

Ethereum (ETH) powers longtime blockchain social media network, Minds. | Source: ETH-USD on

Decentralized players come into play

The discourse on the current social media landscape has opened the door for a slew of “decentralized social media platforms” to enter the mix. These include Mastodon and Console, among many others, who have carved out their role as pioneers in an attempt at a “new wave” of social media.

For the most part, Mastodon has emerged as one of the most cited players, but reviews have generally been a mixed bag with complaints mostly related to the platform’s UI and UX. The decentralized aspect of this is particularly unique to Mastodon as it is not a blockchain but a self-hosted network made up of independently operated nodes.

For blockchain-related newbies, Minds is a frequently mentioned platform that was created a few years ago. It has an ERC-20 reward token and boasts over 6 million members, mostly holding the title of the most notable blockchain-based decentralized social media platform. However, it seems that it was Mastodon that recently gained the lion’s share of new viewers during Twitter’s bumpy ride, seeing nearly a 10-fold increase in users over the past 90 days.

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Meanwhile, new competitors are not afraid to get involved; The aforementioned console is a newer decentralized social media channel created by Triller co-founder and ex-CEO David Leiberman and Columbia Web3 professor Chris Castig. Console recently released a beta version of the platform, initially focused on a “group chat” approach, with plans for a mobile app release in early 2023.

However, when it comes to decentralized social in general, not everyone is excited about where the journey could go. In a 2017 Wired opinion piece, three members of the MIT Media Lab speculated that decentralization would face immense social media headwinds and “never work.” The play made various arguments, some of which were broader, such as: B. High barriers to entry due to network effects (a reasonable claim, although not limited to blockchain-related social networks, but only to new social media platforms in general – and certainly not insurmountable). and some more specific ones (like the difficulty of managing private keys, which is an area with great potential for growth in this field).

There’s no getting around it, we’re still in the midst of a constantly circulating social experiment as we learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to all things social.