What are the Top Decentralized Social Media?
Video-streaming Odysee and content sharing forum Steemit are the top decentralized social media platforms in 2023, with 5.30 million and 3.11 million average monthly unique visitors respectively. The other most popular decentralized social media are: Gab, Mastodon, Mirror, DLive, Bluesky, Minds, DTube, HIVE BLOG, PeakD, Lenster, MAIN Community, Snort and Ecency, which have between 0.09 million to 1.25 million average monthly unique visitors so far this year.
These decentralized social media offer alternatives to existing centralized social media, including YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Medium and Substack.
Decentralized social media operate as peer-to-peer networks that are more transparent and censorship-resistant. This is mostly achieved by being based on the blockchain, or on distributed servers run by the community.
The remaining 5 decentralized social networks run on open-source protocols, namely Nostr, AT Protocol and ActivityPub.
Top Centralized vs Decentralized Social Media
Currently, even the most popular decentralized social media have just a fraction of the biggest centralized social networks’ monthly active users.
Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are estimated to have over 2 billion monthly active users each in 2023. Twitter and Reddit have around half a billion monthly active users each, while Medium and Substack monthly active users are in the tens of millions.
YouTube Alternatives: Decentralized Video Sharing
The top YouTube alternatives among decentralized social media in 2023 are Odysee, DLive and DTube. These web3 video streaming platforms currently enjoy the highest popularity, with 43.9% of the user share by average monthly unique visitors, as well as 50.9% of average monthly web traffic market share.
In other words, 2 out of 5 users are on decentralized social media to watch and/or share videos.
Decentralized YouTube alternatives might be enjoying faster adoption because there are lower barriers to entry – content creators are likelier to cross-post videos than text, while viewers are likelier to watch videos with the content they are interested in, regardless of the platform.
YouTube alternatives make up 3 out of the top 15 decentralized social media platforms.
Odysee, DLive and DTube are all blockchain-based YouTube alternatives, on LBRY, TRON and Steem respectively.
Reddit Alternatives: Decentralized Forums
The best Reddit alternatives in 2023 are decentralized forums like Steemit, PeakD, MAIN Community and Ecency, and are based on the blockchain. The biggest Reddit alternative, Steemit, is the flagship application built on Steem. PeakD and Ecency are built on popular scalable blockchain, Hive. MAIN Community, which also has Android and iOS apps, is built on Binance’s BNB Chain.
In total, Reddit alternatives make up 23.7% of average monthly unique visitors to the top decentralized social media, and receive 11.0% of the average monthly web traffic. This points to 1 in 5 using decentralized social networks to participate in discussions and content sharing. With thousands of subreddits going dark in the recent June 12 Reddit Blackout, decentralized Reddit alternatives may potentially see its traffic and users increase, though this remains to be seen.
Of the top 15 decentralized social media, 4 are Reddit alternatives.
Facebook & Twitter Alternatives: Decentralized Social Networking
The top decentralized Facebook and Twitter alternatives in 2023 are: Gab, Mastodon, Bluesky, Minds, Lenster and Snort. The web3 social networking and microblogging platforms account for 23.5% of average monthly unique visitors to the top decentralized social media, and 31.2% of the average monthly web traffic.
This means that at least 1 in 5 decentralized social media users are looking for Facebook or Twitter alternatives.
In fact, Facebook and Twitter alternatives make up almost half of the top decentralized social media, at 6 out of 15 (40.0%).
Facebook & Twitter Alternatives on Decentralized Protocols
5 of the 6 Facebook and Twitter alternatives are decentralized using open-source protocols, compared to the blockchain-based decentralization for the other web3 social media alternatives.
Well-known Twitter alternative Mastodon runs on ActivityPub and uses a fediverse model of 9.4K independent but linked servers. While mastodon.social is by far the largest Mastodon server with 1.19 million monthly users, other large Mastodon servers also have between 0.01 million to 0.02 million monthly users each.
Far-right social media Gab, which has both Facebook and Twitter characteristics, was initially a Mastodon server itself. Gab’s controversies led it to fork off from Mastodon and exit the fediverse model.
Another well-known Twitter alternative is Bluesky, which spun off from the centralized social media company several years ago. Bluesky is now the flagship project using AT Protocol, a protocol that also operates on a fediverse model. Although Bluesky currently has a smaller user base of 0.55 million, the decentralized social network is still in beta on an invite-only basis.
Meanwhile, the Nostr protocol powers Minds and Snort, among other decentralized social media.
Twitter Alternative on the Blockchain
Lenster is the only top decentralized Twitter alternative based on the blockchain. Lenster is the flagship app built using web3 social graph Lens Protocol, which is on Polygon.
While there are more blockchain-based Twitter alternatives, these have a smaller user base. The popularity of existing Facebook and Twitter alternatives on open-source protocols might mean potentially less incentive to adopt blockchain-based decentralization for social networks.
Substack & Medium Alternatives: Decentralized Blogging
The top decentralized Substack and Medium alternatives in 2023 are Mirror and HIVE BLOG. Together, the two web3 blogging platforms have an 8.8% share of the average monthly unique visitors and a 7.0% web traffic share among the top decentralized social media.
Arweave-based Mirror is the 5th most popular decentralized social media with 1.10 million monthly users, even though blogging platforms like Medium and Substack only enjoy moderate popularity in web2 today.
This might partly be due to current blockchain technology being better suited for storing text, rather than images or video, but also parallels the popularity of longform text-based blogs during the early years of the Internet.
Longform text-based blogging platforms have since been eclipsed by other media formats, such as vlogging, microblogging and using images for personal expression. As such, it remains to be seen how the popularity of decentralized Substack and Medium alternatives will be impacted by improvements in blockchain technology.
The study examined decentralized social media by average monthly unique visitors to their websites, based on Similarweb data from January to April 2023. The dataset did not include users that were on mobile or desktop apps, or browser extensions. For social media with multiple servers, only data for the largest server was taken, in order to prevent double counting unique monthly visitors.
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Yuqian is a cryptocurrency writer and marketer who specializes in mainstream cryptocurrency insights. She's especially fascinated by the philosophical and socioeconomic aspects of crypto and also goes by the name of Q. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honors from the National University of Singapore. Follow the author on Twitter @solosbrqt