What is DeSo Protocol?

Here's everything you need to know about DeSo, the fully decentralized blockchain-based social network design to maximize user freedom, control and scalability.

Over the past 20 years, social media has become integrated into the daily lives of more than 5 billion people, reshaping how we communicate and consume information as a species, and how we interact with the world. 

Unfortunately, the current landscape of social media (in 2024) is still dominated by a handful of centralized platforms which are controlled by large, for-profit corporations. These platforms have faced criticism related to censorship, unfair monetization practices and misuse of user data.

DeSo Protocol is a solution to the problems of existing social networks.

DeSo is a fully decentralized blockchain-based social network and social graph. DeSo changes the underlying foundation of social media with a focus on user freedom and control, onchain economies and open source innovation. 

In this article, I offer a comprehensive overview of the DeSo Protocol, exploring its vision, key features, potential impact on society and culture, and the financial opportunities it presents to all stakeholders involved. 

Decentralized Social Media

DeSo Protocol, short for "Decentralized Social," is the first (and only) blockchain purpose-built from the ground up to support decentralized social media applications at scale. The DeSo protocol can support onchain social interactions for billions of active daily users.

While much research has been dedicated to scaling decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, relatively little effort has been invested in building blockchains that can handle the immense storage and indexing requirements for large-scale social media apps.

In 2021, the DeSo team recognized that existing blockchains were all ill-equipped to handle the massive data demands of social media platforms.

Just as the infrastructure powering the New York Stock Exchange differs vastly from that powering Facebook or Twitter, DeSo serves as a blockchain tailored specifically for social media applications at mass scale.

The DeSo Vision

The core vision of the DeSo Protocol is to decentralize social media and solve the problems that plague social networks today. Currently, a handful of private companies control public discourse on platforms such as X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

These social media giants earn billions of dollars in profits (mostly) from content they did not create. Meanwhile, creators who produce this content are often underpaid, under-engaged, and under-monetized due these platforms being dependent on the outdated ads-driven business model.

By decentralizing social media, DeSo can shift the network effect from private pools of content controlled by corporations to a public pool of content that no single entity can monopolize or manipulate.

This open social model draws inspiration from Bitcoin and Ethereum, which disrupted the financial industry with open source, decentralized platforms.

Key Features of DeSo Protocol

Public Blockchain and Open Data

At the heart of DeSo Protocol is a public blockchain that stores all user data, including profiles, posts, follows, and interactions. By making this data publicly accessible, DeSo enables anyone in the world to run a node and curate their own customized feed.

This opens up opportunities for a wide range of players, from media outlets like ESPN or Politico to curate custom feeds, to individual developers building innovative social media experiences.

Social Tokens and Creator Monetization

DeSo Protocol also pioneered the concept of social tokens, which give online creators the ability to mint and distribute tokens representing their personal brand or community. Users can purchase and trade social tokens, enabling direct financial support for their favorite creators. Social tokens also unlock special features, privileges, or exclusive content, incentivizing user engagement and participation.

DeSo also supports social tipping and social NFTs, providing creators with new avenues for monetization. The open-source nature of DeSo means that anyone can build applications on DeSo without permission. Apps built on DeSo can experiment with new onchain monetization models including subscriptions, paid reposts, paid messages, unlockable content and crowdfunding.

Decentralized Applications (dApps)

DeSo Protocol is designed as a base layer network that supports an ecosystem of interoperable and federated social media applications. This means any social app built on DeSo will immediately be accessible to all DeSo users.

Examples of existing dApps on DeSo include Diamond (a decentralized microblogging platform) and Openfund (a crowdfunding platform) and NFTz (the largest NFT marketplace on DeSo).

Censorship Resistance and Open Innovation

By storing data on a public blockchain, DeSo Protocol offers a censorship-resistant environment where creators have full ownership and control over their content. If you care about free speech, DeSo Protocol is going to be a better option for you than something like X.

DeSo eliminates the risk of content removal or censorship by centralized authorities. Although individual apps on DeSo could choose to censor or filter out certain types of content, there will always be a way to gain access to the full “firehose” of content stored on the DeSo blockchain.

This open-source nature of DeSo encourages global collaboration and innovation. On DeSo, developers from around the world can openly contribute solutions to challenges like detecting harmful content, reducing spam, or improving content algorithms, without needing to seek permission from a central authority or paying outrageous amounts of money to access proprietary APIs.

The Future of Social Media: The DeSo Impact

Empowering Onchain Creators and Native Monetization

DeSo Protocol aims to empower a new generation of onchain creators by providing users with native onchain monetization features and a more equitable blockchain-based revenue model.

By eliminating the middlemen (centralized social media platforms), creators on DeSo can keep a much larger share of the revenue they generate on the platform. This sets the stage for a robust and thriving onchain creator economy.

Decentralized Curation and Content Discovery

Unlike traditional social networks, DeSo gives everyone the ability to run a node and curate their own content feed. In this way, DeSo Protocol introduces a new era of decentralized content curation and discovery. DeSo users can choose from a diverse range of feeds tailored to their interests, curated by trusted sources or niche communities.

This decentralized approach to social content feeds challenges the dominance of centralized algorithm models. It also gives users more control over their content feeds and encourages competition among various approaches to content moderation.

Innovation and Competition

By lowering the barrier to entry for creating new social media products, DeSo Protocol fosters innovation and competition among social applications.

Existing businesses can easily spin up social apps to support their core business, while startups can innovate on a level playing field with established players.

Data Ownership and Privacy

The DeSo Protocol public blockchain model ensures that user data is not monopolized by a single entity. Users maintain ownership and control over their personal information at all times. This alienates concerns about data privacy and exploitation by centralized social media platforms.

Resilience and Decentralization

With its decentralized architecture, DeSo Protocol is designed to be resilient against centralized control or censorship. As the network grows and more nodes contribute data to the blockchain, the platform becomes increasingly decentralized and resistant to external interference.

DeSo Challenges

While DeSo Protocol presents an exciting vision for the future of social media, it also faces several challenges:

Adoption and Network Effects

Achieving widespread adoption and building a network effect comparable to established social media giants will be a significant hurdle for DeSo Protocol.

Attracting users and creators from centralized platforms to a decentralized alternative will require something substantially better, combining a familiar user experience with onchain native monetization features and user controls.

Incumbents & Integration

As the concept of the Metaverse gains traction, DeSo Protocol will need to positions itself as default integration and social identity layer in this emerging digital world.

Incumbent web2 social networks, with their vast resources and user bases could dominate this new era of social media and compete head-on with DeSo if they decided to pivot towards a blockchain-based business model.

Scalability and Performance

While DeSo Protocol is designed to handle the storage and indexing requirements of social media at scale, its ability to maintain high performance and low transaction costs as user adoption grows will be critical to its success.

Regulatory Challenges

As a decentralized platform, DeSo Protocol may face regulatory challenges and scrutiny from governments and authorities around the world, particularly regarding compliance with data protection and content moderation laws.

The Future of Social Media

Despite these challenges, DeSo Protocol represents a promising step towards decentralizing social media and empowering content creators.

With its innovative features, strong backing from top-tier Silicon Valley investors (including Coinbase Ventures) and a growing ecosystem of applications, DeSo Protocol is poised to disrupt the status quo and shape the future of social media as we know it.

As the Onchain Social Landscape continues to evolve, the need for decentralized, transparent, and equitable social media platforms becomes increasingly apparent.

DeSo Protocol's vision of a creator-led, user-owned, and open internet aligns with the principles of Web3 and could pave the way for a new era of social media innovation.

DeSo Protocol is groundbreaking shift in the way we use social networks and consume social media.

-Ryan Charleston

By leveraging blockchain technology, DeSo offers a decentralized, user-owned alternative to traditional social media platforms. Its unique approach addresses the key issues of centralization, censorship, and unfair revenue distribution, providing a more equitable and innovative social platform for creators and users alike.

With its focus on social tokens, NFTs, and onchain monetization models, DeSo empowers creators to take control of their content and build stronger, more direct relationships with their audiences. The open and collaborative nature of the DeSo blockchain invites developers from around the world to contribute, fostering a diverse and vibrant ecosystem.

As the onchain social landscape rapidly evolves, I expect the DeSo vision of a creator-led, user-owned social web will reshape the Internet in such profound ways we can’t yet imagine.

By addressing the challenges and harnessing the opportunities presented by decentralization, DeSo aims to create a more democratic, inclusive, and free online social substrate for humanity. The journey ahead will still be challenging, but the rewards of success are immense.

As we move towards a more decentralized future, DeSo stands at the forefront, leading the way towards a new era of social media.

This comprehensive overview of DeSo Protocol provides a detailed understanding of its vision, technology, and potential impact on the future of social media. As the platform continues to grow and evolve, it will be fascinating to see how it shapes the digital landscape and empowers creators and users around the world.


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