What is the Lens Protocol and how does it work?


The innovation and therefore the growing popularity of social media began at the turn of the century with the concept of the online social graph. This specific data structure distinguishes between social network users and the people, places and objects with which they interact. However, time has shown that major social media platforms have several disadvantages related to centralization. The flagships of change are likely to be seeds of current Web3 projects.

What is the Lens Protocol?

Lens Protocol is an open-source, blockchain-based social graph created to reshape the future of social media concepts in the age of Web3 and decentralization. Unlike contemporary Web2 social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook which use social graphs to develop interconnections between social network users only centrally, the Lens protocol is designed to be permissionless and composable to allow creators of content to “own their digital roots” and enable people to take ownership of the connections between themselves and communities without compromise.

As a result, the development of the Lens protocol has led to the emergence of the decentralized social graph that users completely own, giving them back control of their information and links and even offering features to monetize their content.

The Lens protocol was introduced in early 2022 and has garnered a lot of attention in the blockchain and crypto communities due to the revolutionary nature of the social networking product and the famous Aave (AAVE) team developing it. As a branch of one of the leading lending platforms in the Ethereum ecosystem, Lens Protocol seeks to address the massive flaws in the current social media environment, which it does successfully, gradually gaining a base of dedicated users from a Web3-ready community.

How does the Lens protocol work?

Lens Protocol’s social graph is established via a graph database (GDB). These databases use graph structures that contain individual nodes, edges as connection points between them, places, objects, and other properties to store data. These graphs show the members of the network and the relationships between them.

However, Lens Protocol’s smart contract-based social graph differs from centralized social media graphs since, in the latter case, data access is only available to centralized services. Specifically, users, third parties, and even projects that might want to integrate with the service do not have access to it. Profiles, content and connections are locked and maintained by the centralized network operator.

Additionally, it is known that any centralized service can slightly become a single point of failure when the single server becomes unreachable. Focusing on building decentralized social media applications (DApps), Lens Protocol’s open social graph architecture allows any blockchain-based social media platform or DApp to connect to it.

Moreover, unlike the structure of centralized services, which cannot be customized, the flexible design of Lens Protocol is based on concepts of modularity, allowing to implement the latest features and fixes and, at the same time, to secure social relationships and user-owned content. . The Lens protocol is built on top of the green Polygon (MATIC) proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. It is also compatible with cryptocurrency wallets like MetaMask, Gnosis Safe, and Argent, boosting interoperability between platforms.

What makes Lens Protocol unique?

Two fundamental concepts make the Lens protocol world unique: non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and modularity. Profiling users as NFTs is at the heart of the protocol. Through it, decentralized members of Lens Protocol’s social network are empowered to create, maintain, and own their content and profiles represented by NFTs, while Polygon’s low-cost Layer 2 scaling solution stores all data.

Such an architecture makes it possible to transfer all the rights and the complete ownership of the content into the hands of the users. Any content posted, be it a text, an image or even a change of avatars is available in channel. Modularity as a property of the system refers to innovation, availability and connectivity, which means that the social graph of the Lens protocol is open to all creators who are willing and ready to propose and implement implement new features.

At the same time, community members have the power to decide whether to approve these users by agreeing which features to integrate in the most decentralized and open way. Due to these mechanisms and the absence of a central actor controlling the information, new social media networks can emerge, preserving freedom of expression.

The advantages of the Lens protocol

The advantages of the protocol lie in its very basis and in the principles of Web3. Above all, Lens Protocol’s independent, permissionless network creates a censorship-resistant environment that cannot be interrupted. No third parties, including centralized authorities, can remove or censor any content or ban any profile.

With it, Lens protocol users own their content and data and can use it in any social media platform or DApp built on top of the protocol. Moreover, it is possible to create a full-fledged Web3 social platform with Lens Protocol. Applications based on the Lens protocol benefit from the thriving ecosystem and take advantage of the protocol’s modularity and easily customizable features.

Finally, Lens Protocol’s PoS algorithm makes its blockchain energy-efficient and affordable, especially compared to the proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm which consumes large amounts of computing power.

Risks related to the Lens protocol

Despite the apparent advantages of the Lens protocol, the many disadvantages involved should not be ignored. Blockchains are often limited in terms of on-chain storage capacity and therefore not all content and NFTs are stored at this level and require another storage solution.

Lens protocol posts have a special ContentURI pointing to the content of the posts, be it text, image, video, etc. All original files are stored in distributed file storage systems like IPFS, Arweave or even providers like AWS S3. Thus, the content of any user can potentially be manipulated.

The problem of storage is deeply linked to security issues. If the original files are not saved on a blockchain, they may be lost or damaged. There is also a risk of smart contracts and NFT maintenance as there are several scenarios in which hackers can attack decentralized finance (DeFi) networks.

How to use the Lens protocol

Lens Protocol’s design replicates social media functionality in a Web3 context and based on blockchain technology, smart contracts and NFTs. Thus, network users have profiles; they can post, share and comment on different types of content and follow profiles of friends and opinion leaders.

The journey of a Lens Protocol user begins with the creation of the NFT profile. Ownership of this NFT allows users to add content, link and communicate with others and gives users control over their data. Specifically, the NFT Profile contains the history of all posts, reposts (also known as “mirrors”), comments and other user-generated content.

The NFT profile includes a unique follow feature that allows users to follow other profiles. On the Lens protocol, this differs slightly from the same option in traditional Web2 social media. Its logic allows different accounts to create Follow NFTs to record their connections. When Lens Protocol users follow a profile, they receive NFT tracking, which creators and communities can encode with additional value.

The Collects feature allows Lens Protocol users to monetize their content. This way, they can set a collect option when posting a post to their NFT profile. Because creators fully own their content through the Lens Protocol, they can allow their subscribers to purchase it under terms determined by the original creator.

The key part of the Lens protocol are modules that refer to smart contracts with code that works under specific conditions. Lens Protocol modules allow users to introduce unique and personalized functionality on features such as Follow, Collect and Refer, including interaction with content, mirrors and comments from other users.

The Future of Web3 Social Media

In the 21st century, people use social media all the time and everywhere, even though social networks are full of drawbacks in their centralized version. The main issues with the current social media ecosystem are the lack of rights over user data, as user-generated content does not belong to them, and censorship, meaning platforms have the right to censor any information or to prohibit any non-compliant profile. with their policies.

The benefits of Web3 and blockchain for social media are clear and can have a significant impact by offering new ownership and personalization models. They are accelerating the revolution currently being led by the community-owned social graph of Lens Protocol and similar projects in the social media space. They empower their users and give them the control and ability to decide how they want their social graph to be built and monetized, bringing a huge influence to the communication paradigm.

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