Aave Companies has today announced the launch of an open-source tech stack for the building of social networking applications. Named the Lens Protocol, it will reside on the Polygon blockchain and allow developers to build social media apps, marketplaces, recommendation algorithms, and more.
Contained within the decentralised ecosystem that we call Web3, it will leverage NFT technology to allow users to fully own their data, unlocking new ways for creators to monitise their digital content and relationships with followers.
Amid all the controversy around freedom of speech and Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, it’s a poignant time to be launching this new kind of social media endevour, and turn the keys of censorship over to the public.
To gain more of an insight, Cointext.com interviewed Stani Kulechov, Founder and CEO of Aave Companies.
Cointext.com (CT): For what reasons would social media entrepreneurs pursue the decentralised route rather than the conventional approach?
Stani Kulechov, Founder and CEO of Aave Companies (SK): Historically, social media apps have created moats by making it difficult for users to bring their followers and content to new platforms, forcing creators to build from scratch every time. This has resulted in them having monopoly-like control over the relationship between creators and their audiences as well as the distribution and visibility of content on their platforms. (This happens both by web2 social centralising data – and using it for their own advantage – and charging fees to creators who seek to monetise their content.) By taking the decentralised route, Lens Protocol aims to unlock the Web3 social graph to turn the zero-sum game into a collaborative one.
CT: Do you feel the timing of this launch is particularly relevant given the controversy around Twitter freedom of speech and Elon Musk’s attempted takeover?
SK: The launch of Lens Protocol certainly comes at a topical moment in time. For example, Twitter recently chose to suspend my account. This is the exact type of action (removing of a profile and excising a following that one has spent years building on the whim of a centralised, opaque platform) that led myself and the Aave Companies’ team to build the Lens Protocol.
Lens Protocol was built on the ethos that a user should have full ownership over their content— that means that no centralised entity can take it away from you. With apps powered by Lens, if you do not like the policy of one platform, you can take your profile and your community with you to another.
Web3 social offers ownership and freedom over content in a way that Web2 platforms like Twitter cannot. Musk has claimed that he believes Twitter should be an unregulated global town hall, and Twitter has long prided itself on being the arbiter of public discourse. But if that was truly the case, then the digital town hall should be owned by the public as well, not just hosted by a centralised force that could close its doors to people of their choosing.
Public goods should be public, meaning that fundamental building blocks to these platforms should be open source. What a person creates should be theirs to own, but it goes beyond that fundamental value of general ownership.
This is why decentralised software like Lens Protocol and community-owned platforms powered by them are crucial to the furthering of public conversation.
CT: Do you think there could be downsides to decentralised social media too? For example, hate speech or false information could go unchecked?
SK: This is the beauty of putting ownership in the hands of the community. If we believe that people are inherently good and will work together to preserve a positive environment that they have curated, these types of things will not go unchecked.
CT: What do you think the future holds for centralised social networks such as Instagram and Twitter?
SK: For now, these networks will coexist with decentralised networks, but I do believe that once users have seen and experienced the benefits of decentralised platforms there will be a mass shift in where they choose to congregate.