Decentralized Social Media: The Future of Connections or an Unnecessary Niche?

David vs Goliath; web3 vs web2 social media.

Where are we now?

Today, there are roughly 3.8 billion social media users, and with the proliferation of cheaper mobile devices worldwide, the number of users expands yearly.

Expected worldwide social media users through 2027
Source: Statista

Reimagining Social Media from the Ground Up

While web2 companies focus on social media as a single product, web3 expands the idea of social networks into multiple layers. The base layer is a social graph: it maps profiles, followers, and their connections. Next is the app layer, where users can consume content and interact with their social graphs. For reference to web2, think of social graphs as followers and app layers as feeds. Through blockchains, there is no single entity controlling the social graphs. Instead, your social graph becomes an asset rather than a product owned by a corporation.

Graphical comparison of centralized social graphs and decentralized social graphs
Adoption curves for Internet and Crypto
Source: World Bank, Crypto.com

Tackling the Issues

While web2 followers and connections are siloed within each app, web3 social networks allow you to bring your followers with you to each app. Imagine the simplicity and time saved if you could have all your YouTube subscribers instantly follow you when you launch an Instagram page for your brand. This is the beauty of separating the social graph from the app layer; your graph remains the same while the app layer is flexible. With future customizability, the possibility of a self-permissioned follower transfer, where only select followers are ported over, can be easily implemented.

Existing Issues with web2 social media
Moderation enforcement by Lens, DeSo, Cyberconnect, and SubSocial

DeSoc Trilemma

Decentralized Social Media Trilemma
Lens Gasless API visual explanation

Can Decentralized Social Media Become a Reality?

Decentralized social media may provide the only realistic solution to the challenges users face with existing web2 social media platforms. But the question remains: is mass adoption even possible? From what it seems, the decentralization maxis will have to waive the white flag in order to prioritize UX and scalability so that DeSoc can finally see sustainable product market fit. The correct approach appears to be the separation of social graphs and app layers to further push customizability and avoid moderation concerns that exist in web2. Finally, prioritizing composability by building on blockchains with ecosystems outside of social media, such as gaming and finance, as well as utilizing NFTs within the design, allows for the best user experience while offering optionalities not found in today’s social media design.

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