Blockchain, Top Apps/Web

The Top 3 Decentralized Social Media Protocols 2023

Decentralized social networking protocol makes possible for users to own social graph while preventing the current social network providers from splitting into...

Written by Niel Patel · 6 min read >
web3 social media apps 2023

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become ubiquitous. Most of us use them daily to stay in touch, to share experiences, and to connect with like-minded people. However, these platforms are also centralized. 

Also Read: List of Web3 Social Media Apps & Sites

Understanding decentralized social media

Centralization means that the platforms are owned and controlled by a single company. This can lead to problems like media censorship, closed algorithms, data breaches and company takeovers. It’s what we’ve witnessed this week in the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk. The Twitter community must now wait to find out what this means for their platform.

Many are now talking about the decentralization of social media to solve these problems. Decentralized platforms and applications are built on distributed networks that are not owned or controlled by any one party. Instead, they are often governed by the users themselves. This makes decentralized services more resistant to censorship and manipulation. It also allows for a more open and democratic governance model, where users have a say in how the platform is run. 

Data ownership in decentralized social media

Centralized social media platforms like Twitter also own and control our data. This means they can sell, manipulate, or even delete it without our consent. Decentralization solves this problem by giving users more control over their own data. Some initiatives even combine decentralization with ‘web3’ technologies that facilitate ownership like crypto wallets. These web3 social platforms can for the first time offer users complete ownership over their profile, posts, messages and even followers.

Such ownership is revolutionary for most users of centralized ‘web2’ social platforms. It means that we can decide who has access to our data, where it is shown and importantly, which platform or application we use to share it. In a fully web3 social media world, we could move our followers, posts, likes, messages and DMs freely between different platforms and user experiences.

The difference between a social media platform and a social protocol

Decentralized social media is still in its early stages, but several promising social platforms and protocols are already available. Users need to start to understand the difference between these two key terms. 

What is a social media platform?

A social media platform is the service you use to share your social content like images and comments. It connects you with others using the platform and often allows you to curate the content you want to see. Centralized social media platforms include Tiktok and Twitter. There are already several decentralized social media platforms in operation, such as Mastodon, Diaspora, and Steemit.

What is a social protocol?

A social protocol provides the underlying infrastructure for decentralized social media platforms and applications. Developers build their new services on top of the protocol. A good protocol allows all the services that use it to be interoperable. This is often called ‘composability’ by developers. For example, email protocols allow us to send an email from a Gmail user to a Yahoo! mail user. Those services are composable.
Decentralized social media protocols also define the technologies that give users ownership over their data. They manage the decentralized storage of this data so that it is independent of any company or platform. This means that a user can choose any social platform using the protocol, and move their data freely between them. For example, if Twitter and Instagram used the same social protocol, you would be able to move your followers and posts from one service to the other.

Sounds good? Let’s evaluate the top decentralized social media protocols already available today. 

List of Best 3 decentralized social media protocols

  1. Orbis Protocol
  2. Lens Protocol
  3. AT Protocol by Bluesky

1. Orbis Protocol

Orbis is the web3 social software company founded by Baptiste Greve (former Edge & Node) and Charles Levecque (TikTok, Facebook). Their mission is to “build the future of open social connectivity”.

Central to Orbis’ work is the belief that every individual should own their online social experience. That the applications and algorithms that connect us should be a choice we can each control.

Orbis’s main product is Orbis Protocol, a web3 social protocol built for developers which uses the Ceramic decentralized data network. Orbis Protocol makes it easy for developers to build fast and decentralized social experiences; from messaging and feeds to full social platforms.

Many projects are now using Orbis Protocol to add social features to existing applications, praising its user experience, speed and composability. Examples include the Mindblowon NFT Universe and Krebit’s web3 reputation passport.

Advantages of Orbis 

As Orbis Protocol is built for developers, they provide an exceptional SDK and developer documentation. All code is open source so developers can use or fork pre-made solutions like chat modules, comments and profiles to add them to their own applications.

Orbis’s choice of Ceramic means that it is a multi-chain solution for decentralized applications. Users can create their decentralized identity or” DID” using many types of providers including Ethereum and Solana wallets.

Orbis Protocol is also a great choice for user experience. There are no fees or wallet popups when users post their content because not everything happens ‘on-chain’. This means that social posts are fast, similar to what we’re used to in web2.

Disadvantages of Orbis

As Orbis has focused its strategy on developers, it doesn’t have one main decentralized social application you can join today. You can experience Orbis via partner projects like Mindblowon NFT or Krebit, or join Orbis’s forums like a decentralized Discord built on the Orbis Protocol.

Another possible challenge is that Orbis’s architecture and decentralization differ from established blockchain solutions. Ceramic presents new concepts to web3 developers, which may act as a barrier to entry. However, Orbis’s work on documentation and SDK seems to be countering this well.  

For more information on Orbis visit 

2. Lens Protocol

What is Lens?

Lens Protocol is described as a “composable and decentralized social graph”. This means a shared web3 identity and storage solution for social applications. At the heart of the protocol is an NFT-based profile that allows your identity and social data to be transferred between different apps.

Lens is built on the Polygon blockchain and uses three layers of ERC721 tokens for you to mint and store profiles, gain followers and ‘collect’ other content on Lens. Users can reshare content from other users using the mirror feature, and collect payments via referral fees. Your profile NFT contains the history of all of the posts, mirrors, comments, and other content you generate.

Advantages of Lens

Lens has excelled at raising awareness of web3 social concepts in crypto circles. The reputation of founder Stani Kulechov has introduced many new users to the concepts of decentralized identity and user-owned content. 
Lens profiles were made available through a controlled release aiming to onboard crypto’s most active users first. This started a network effect attracting crypto influencers and podcasters, many of whom signed Lens’ Open Letter’ about social media.

Like Orbis, Lens is building a modular toolkit for developers to create an ecosystem of applications with a common “social graph” at their core. There is already a strong ecosystem of end-user applications in this ecosystem, including Lenstube for videos and Lenster for an alternative to Twitter.

Disadvantages of Lens

The on-chain nature of Lens can introduce friction for users. Actions like creating a profile, following other users and commenting on posts triggers the need to sign a wallet message or transaction. Lens aimed to address this issue with a ‘Dispatcher’, essentially an intermediary that you permit to sign messages and transactions on your behalf.

In addition, each transaction on Polygon and therefore Lens requires a gas fee. According to Lens, users currency pay their own gas fees. However, certain interfaces might use a relayer to allow “gas free” network usage for Lens Protocol transactions or may even subsidize part of the gas fees.

On-chain also presents the problem of interoperability with the users of other chains. Lens could duplicate and deploy its smart contracts on another chain but they will still be two separate experiences. For example, will a Lens user ever be able to interact with someone on Solana?

For more information, visit 

3. AT Protocol by Bluesky

What is AT Protocol?

The AT Protocol is the latest social protocol to be announced in this growing space. It was launched by Bluesky, the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey initiative, to “power the next generation of social applications”. Bluesky aims to transition the social web from platforms to protocols, and AT is its launch solution.

Bluesky’s history dates back to a 2019 announcement that Twitter would fund an independent team to create a decentralized social media standard. The view was that Twitter itself could eventually become a client on top of the protocol.

Not a great deal is currently known about the technology behind AT Protocol. It plans to enable communication between decentralized identities using domain names like @adam, rather than cryptographic addresses. It promises the transferability of user profiles, content and social graphs across apps, as well as the ability to select from a marketplace of curation algorithms – features that are also on the roadmaps of web3 social protocols like Lens and Orbis. 

Advantages of AT Protocol

With 30,000 waitlist registrations in the first 48 hours since its announcement, AT Protocol appears to have struck a chord with those curious about web3 social. It also benefits from the high interest in the future of Twitter and Jack Dorsey‘s initiatives after the chaotic takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk.

Disadvantages of AT Protocol

More will be known about the relative disadvantages of AT Protocol once the technology is released into beta. No roadmap is currently available, but sign-ups to the beta waitlist are being accepted at 

What next for decentralized social protocols?

Decentralization is a key principle of the web3 movement, and one area where decentralization could have a major impact is social media. With Orbis and Lens already offering robust solutions and AT Protocol about to enter the space, we are set to see an explosion of interest in decentralized social media and the protocols to build it.

Will 2023 be the year of the decentralized social protocol? At the very least we are about to see a new wave of web3 innovation as developers leverage their benefits for user experience, composability and digital identity. Expect a new generation of social media experiences very shortly.

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