It’s beginning to feel like there is no escaping Farcaster.
Other decentralized social media platforms are larger. For instance, Mastodon boasts 8.7 million users, and Bluesky is nearing 4 million after opening to the public this week. In contrast, Farcaster lags with just tens of thousands of users, despite having launched back in 2020. Yet, it seems like all of crypto has suddenly discovered this app.
Since Elon Musk bought X (and arguably quite a bit before that), the wider crypto community has been exploring different Web3 platforms that might give them what they want better than X can — namely, a place to talk about crypto without being spammed by fake airdrop bots, or more recently, lewd pictures of a certain Canadian rapper.
But while other social media apps have had some measure of success, it seems that nothing has really stuck. In the non-Web3 world, Instagram’s launch of Threads managed to get a massive number of users incredibly quickly, but the app is now essentially a wasteland, only populated by big brands. Friend.tech, which took the whole Web3 thing quite seriously by monetizing your profile, nosedived after its initial popularity. And Bluesky, whose users (including myself) really pushed to make it a thing, just still isn’t really a thing. (I’m purposely leaving out Lens Protocol, as it’s still in beta and I never managed to get an invite code.)
Read more: Farcaster is marrying social media and Web3 to onboard the masses
As a crypto journalist, I’m quite sick of the current version of X myself, though I’ve been cautiously optimistic about each new social media platform that I’ve tried. In an ideal world, I’d be able to go on this new app, find sources for my journalism job, laugh at jokes that aren’t wildly offensive, and even learn new things from strangers’ posts. With X as it stands, this all isn’t possible.
With Farcaster (so far), it’s looking like it is.
Now, I’m not saying that Farcaster is the app that’s going to replace X for the masses. Far from it. In fact, the Farcaster channels that are not about crypto always somehow seem to sneak crypto in there. The /food channel is active, but people are shilling the $Degen token among recipes. The /books channel has callout for crypto trading advice, /space has a post about a new space token funding a space mission, /fitness has chatter about a workout tracker blockchain app.
Read more from our opinion section: If we want crypto to succeed, we’ve got to give X the boot
The crypto draw is undeniably huge — there are barely any users in the /dogs and /cats channels, but tons of people in cat-NFT channels and of course, the DOGE channel. All of this is to say that Farcaster, despite its promise for you to “find your tribe,” does seem to limit those tribes to crypto ones.
But it’s this preponderance of crypto in every channel that might be a sign that Farcaster is actually poised to become the new crypto town square, just like Blueskye and Friend.tech had promised.
As Paul Dylan-Ennis wrote back in September of last year, for crypto to succeed in the mainstream, it has to rid itself of its poisonous relationship with X. The only way forward to rehabilitate crypto’s reputation, he noted, is for crypto to shed the bad habits enabled by Web2 platforms like X, and instead return to its subculture roots.
“Then maybe, just maybe, when people come across us again, they’ll find a group of people living according to their values and be able to see the good in those values for themselves.”
This isn’t to say that Farcaster is a utopia of crypto camaraderie. In the few days that I’ve played around on the app, I’ve seen my fair share of meaningless airdrop farming and memecoin shilling. And, I hate to say it, but it is still too early to say with certainty if Farcaster is definitely the one that’s going to stick around — no big news sites are on it yet (Bloomberg still posts daily on Bluesky, for comparison), and while the recently launched Frames are a big draw, they’re such a new addition that people haven’t fully figured out all the ways to experiment with them.
However, Farcaster’s current success is taking place in a new crypto climate. Unlike the brief fads of other decentralized social media platforms, crypto’s new obsession with the app takes place with Bitcoin at a high, bitcoin ETFs finally approved and the stigma of big court cases like Sam Bankman-Fried and Changpeng “CZ” Zhao having faded from public consciousness.
This combination of factors may be what’s needed for Farcaster to cement its place as crypto’s new favorite stomping ground. Or maybe I’m just caught up in the hype, and crypto will remember Farcaster with the same fondness that we all remember Clubhouse and BeReal. Nothing more than a brief blip in our continual search for new, better ways to entertain ourselves online.
I don’t care much about tech, I don’t care a whole lot about finance, either. I care about writing stories and watching weird things unfold. And that’s why I’ve ended up in crypto. But because I’m missing that passion for what crypto and blockchain are all about — finance, tech, privacy, yadda yadda — I’m going to write instead about what I am actually interested in. Everything about crypto that has very little to do with crypto. That’s what this column will be about. All the tangential stories that come out of the blockchain and crypto space, what I think about them, and how I navigate it all as a skeptical former Russian literature major. It’s precisely my perch as an outsider that lets me do what I do: Opine on all sides of any crypto issue, no strings attached, no skin in the game. If you want to talk crypto with me, let’s go off topic.
But because I’m missing that passion for what crypto and blockchain are all about — finance, tech, privacy, yadda yadda — I’m going to write instead about what I am actually interested in. Everything about crypto that has very little to do with crypto.
That’s what this column will be about. All the tangential stories that come out of the blockchain and crypto space, what I think about them, and how I navigate it all as a skeptical former Russian literature major.
It’s precisely my perch as an outsider that lets me do what I do: Opine on all sides of any crypto issue, no strings attached, no skin in the game.
If you want to talk crypto with me, let’s go off topic.
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