Can Web3 Conquer the Corporate Goliaths of Social Media?

Web2 social media platforms are among the largest companies in the world, with billions of users happily handing over their personal information


Twin Design/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


There’s an old adage: if you’re not paying for a product, you’re probably the product.

The typical selling point of social media platforms to current and prospective users is “free” access to the largest online communities. User data, not fees, is the platform’s commodity.   

Personal interests, ranging from shopping habits to political leanings are typically extracted for the benefit of the platform’s bottom line. Advertisers and counterparties glean as much intel from the data as they can and then push their products and ideas right back at the users. 

It seems that social media participants are often willing to give up control of personal data in return for a seamless experience that connects with the largest number of potential friends or followers. 

Stani Kulechov, founder and CEO of Aave and Lens Protocol, spoke to Blockworks about his aspirations for social media tech in an interview on the 0xResearch podcast

Popular platforms provide usability in exchange for “more control over your social capital,” Kulechov says.

Lens Protocol’s profiles ‘secured by the blockchain’

Lens Protocol offers a “composable and decentralized social graph” for building out social network platforms, according to the company website. The tool takes traditional Web2 actions like profile creation, following, sharing and content amplification and turns them into “protocol guarantees by using smart contracts and using the blockchain,” Kulechov says.

“When you create a profile on Lens, that profile is secured by the blockchain,” he says, adding, “if you follow other users, that follower graph is also secured by the blockchain — and these are protocol guarantees.”

To address the challenge of speed versus convenience, Kulechov says that the Lens Protocol stack includes on-chain and off-chain elements. Momoka — an “optimistic scaling solution” launched by Aave — creates blockchain transactions, but stores them on a separate data availability layer. 

“It’s basically a full hybrid stack,” he says.

This allows for much greater performance than current layer-1 blockchain tech can handle. It’s capable of dealing with the potentially massive flows of traffic that social media applications experience. “With something like Momoka,” Kulechov says, “you can take that big amount of data and just dump it directly to a data availability layer.”

“Do I need a blockchain to create a post or a comment? In those cases, maybe data availability is enough as a solution.”

“It’s up to the applications and then users to choose what they actually want and need” from the stack, he says. 

Shifting the dynamics

The biggest benefit for users, according to Kulechov, is a shift in dynamics, from platforms holding most of the power to a system that is more “user-centric.” The social network service provides users with direct control of their online presence, he says. 

“You as a user have oversight of your profile and your follower graph,” he says.

A user could decide to move to another Web3 social platform without having to start over. “You now have the choice and portability to take your followers and go to another experience or even use an alternative algorithm.”

“And because you’re tapping into the same user base,” Kulechov says, it will be “easier to bootstrap a social media application,” carrying followers from one place to another, “because you have that portability by default.”

“Because it’s open, it also means that anyone can compute and create algorithms for discovery, finding content, and finding peers to follow in a more open way.”

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.


Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2023

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research Report Cover Vertex.jpg


The proliferation of new perp DEXs has led to fragmented liquidity across various DEXs and chains. Vertex, known for its vertically-integrated DEX that includes spot, perpetual, and integrated money markets, is now tackling cross-chain liquidity fragmentation through horizontal integration with the launch of new Edge instances. Vertex's integrated offerings and cross-margined account structure amplify the benefits of new instances: native cross-chain spot trading, optimized cross-chain basis trading, consistent interest rates, reduced bridging friction, and more.


Partnering with EtherFi and Angle, the fully on-chain perp DEX features bespoke collateral



Gavin Wood introduced the next evolutionary step for the Polkadot network: the Join-Accumulate Machine, or JAM


The side events were the places to be at Consensus 2024, according to attendees


Also, who’s come out swinging in the spot ether ETF fee war — and who could undercut them


I know it is not in their nature, but US regulators could learn a lot by researching the digital asset frameworks that overseas regulators have already gotten right


Also, the ETF hype train can count out at least one member