Social networks serve as a digital gateway to the world, just as vital as engaging in conversations, reading newspapers, or catching up with TV news. In an era where technology strides forward at an unprecedented pace, our social interactions online have become a normative facet of communication.
Yet, contemporary social networks grapple with a myriad of issues, stemming from governmental influences, corporate interests, and the agendas of influential individuals.
- Censorship: Users often find themselves constrained by the rigid rules of platforms, curbing their ability to voice opinions that might ruffle the feathers of the platforms' founders. A salient example is Twitch, the popular live streaming service for gamers.
- Advertising: Social networks exploit user attention as a commodity, trading it with advertisers.
- Security: The centralization of data storage poses significant risks, leading to potential data breaches. The infamous instance of Facebook data being exploited during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, affecting between 30 to 50 million users, illustrates this vulnerability.
Emerging as an antidote to these traditional models are the Web 3.0 social networks, heralding an era of enhanced decentralization, free from the shackles of censorship and invasive advertising. But are they truly the silver bullet?
To shed light on this, let's delve into five Web 3.0 social networks that are staking their claim as formidable alternatives to the likes of X/Twitter, Facebook, Medium, and others.
Mastodon: A Web 3.0 Social Network. Source: thedailynavigator.com
Mastodon emerges as a unique Web 3.0 social network, a tapestry of independent servers, each resonating with a distinct theme and governed by its own set of rules. Collectively, they weave the intricate fabric of a decentralized community, affectionately known as the "Fediverse."
Launched in 2016 by the German non-profit organization Mastodon gGmbH, the project is built on the open ActivityPub protocol. Any software that utilizes ActivityPub can interact with Mastodon and other Fediverse servers. Examples include:
- PeerTube - a decentralized video hosting platform, akin to YouTube.
- Pixelfed - an image-sharing service, similar in concept to Pinterest.
The Fediverse is fast gaining a foothold in the social media realm. Threads, launched in July 2023, is set to integrate ActivityPub, as elucidated in the Instagram help center: “We plan for Threads to use a protocol called ActivityPub to talk to other servers that support this protocol.”
Stepping into Mastodon requires picking a server — think of it as choosing between email services like Gmail or Outlook. As of November 2023, the network boasts a rich ecosystem of 9,700 servers, including the likes of mastodon.social and techhub.social.
Each server has its own geographical, thematic, and linguistic identity, offering different gateways to join:
- Open registration
- Invitation-only access
- Approval-based registration
The final step of registration involves creating a username. In Mastodon, usernames are formatted similarly to email addresses, with a local name (e.g., “garry”) and a domain (e.g., “cryptodon.lol”).
Interaction on Mastodon mirrors email dynamics. Intra-server communication requires just the local identifier, whereas cross-server dialogue necessitates the full username.
An example of effectively sharing your Mastodon handle.
As of November 2023, Mastodon has garnered a user base of 1.6 million. Touted as an alternative to X (formerly Twitter), it has sparked debates about its originality and distinction. GN Crypto has previously explored these comparisons
Mirror: A Haven for Authors. Source: mirror.xyz
Mirror, launched in 2020, is a decentralized platform tailored for authorial content, emerging as an alternative to Medium and Substack.
It allows writers to monetize their work through NFTs and gather funds for future projects. Take “Scissor Labels”
for instance — an essay project by John Palmer that flourished through community funding via the $ESSAY token, amassing 10 ETH.
Mirror utilizes the decentralized Arweave
protocol, ensuring perpetual data storage. Thus, even if Mirror ceases, the content remains in Arweave.
To be part of Mirror's community, one requires an Ethereum-compatible crypto wallet, like Metamask
. The platform's functionality and text editor bear a resemblance to Substack, complete with the capability for email newsletter distribution.
Hey - A Pioneering Web3 Social Venture from Lens Protocol. Source: hey.xyz
Hey, formerly known as Lenster, is a decentralized social network akin to X/Twitter. This platform is a comprehensive solution built on the Lens Protocol and deployed on the Polygon
network, ensuring all data is blockchain-preserved.
The platform enables users to publish posts, engage with comments, and express likes. Uniquely, Hey users have the capability to transform their posts into NFT tokens and even initiate crowdfunding endeavors.
Being a part of the Lens Protocol ecosystem, interaction on Hey could potentially amplify opportunities for airdrops. Further insights into activities involving the Lens Protocol can be found in a dedicated article
Paragraph - A Web 3.0 Platform for Authors. Source: paragraph.xyz
Paragraph emerges as a decentralized platform dedicated to the publication of newsletters, extensive articles, and diverse literary content, positioning itself as a parallel to Substack. The platform's versatility is highlighted by its compatibility with various blockchains such as Ethereum, Arbitrum, Polygon, BNB Chain, and Avalanche, and its integration within the Farcaster ecosystem.
Farcaster, a decentralized social graph protocol, is engineered for the genesis and interplay of web3 applications. Paragraph, leveraging this protocol, transcends mere article publishing, crowdfunding initiatives, and NFT minting, offering users a gateway to a broader range of ecosystem interactions.
Friend.tech - A Web 3.0 Social Network Anchored in the L2 Solution Base. Source: twitter.com
Friend.tech, which debuted in August 2023, is a Web 3.0 social network that brands itself itself as the “marketplace for your friends.” It introduces a unique concept where users can acquire keys (previously referred to as “shares”) linked to an X account.
Owners of these keys gain exclusive access to a curated realm of content, private channels, and specialized discussion groups. The platform's innovative approach mimics a stock market, but with a unique twist: the trading of influencer 'shares' instead of traditional corporate stocks.
As of November 2023, the application has successfully processed
14,600 transactions, amounting to $2.09 million. During its peak, these numbers soared to 140,000 transactions, accumulating $12.8 million.