The Lens Protocol project first emerged in February of this year as a decentralized competitor to web 2 social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The open source software stack provides a base layer upon which Web3 social media applications can be built.
More than 50 applications have been incubated on Lens, which focuses on giving people one secure ID that they can use across multiple platforms and applications. They include SpamDAO, GoldenCircle, PeerStream, Swapify, Social Link, Lenster and Lens Booster amongst others.
Reclaiming identity and data ownership
When it comes to old social media sites like Facebook, the adage of ‘you’re not the customer, you’re the product’ couldn’t be more true. Such platforms have been designed to capture and monetize user content and user data. Lens is developed to put users in control of their own online identities and personal info.
Lens Protocol has been developed by the Aave team. The core focus of the project is to decentralize ownership of user accounts and user data. To achieve this, Lens takes a different approach than the incumbent social media platforms. Instead of depending on email IDs and unique usernames, it relies on NFTs and blockchain addresses for user authentication.
Social media platforms have also come in for a lot of criticism when it comes to taking down user accounts without notice or explanation. This will be all too familiar to Aave CEO Stani Kulechov as he had his own Twitter account suspended last month. This incident was an unnecessary reminder for Kulechov of the issues with conventional social media. Some months prior to the establishment of Lens Protocol, he told Decrypt:
“Twitter makes all the revenue from your tweets and the content you share, and Twitter decides which of your tweets get traction through the algorithm.”
As part of the launch of Lens Protocol on Polygon, new users were invited to mint their profile NFT - which can be used for identity purposes across all apps powered by Lens.
Lead developer of Ethereum Naming Service (ENS), nick.eth, reached out to Kulechov on Twitter to let him know that they would have supported an ENS integration. Kulechov later responded to indicate that ENS integration is planned. ENS is a distributed technology based on the Ethereum blockchain that provides human-readable handles in the place of long and confusing crypto addresses.
One of the big stumbling blocks with decentralized social networks is that they’re data intensive. Blockchain isn’t known for its data throughput - making this issue a challenge in building projects that are scalable. Polygon has been designed from the outset to achieve greater scalability. Despite that, it too has had difficulties with throughput. Earlier this year, use of Sunflower Farmers, a play-to-earn game running on the layer 2 Ethereum sidechain, led to the network getting congested.
This suggests that we may not have arrived at a finished product ready for mass market yet. Challenges remain but work is ongoing in the background. Polygon has committed $1 billion towards the development of Zero Knowledge scaling technology.
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