Farcaster

What is Farcaster?

Farcaster is an Optimism-based protocol for building decentralized social networking applications. As of 5 February 2024, Farcaster is home to more than 20 social applications with over 15,000 users.

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The Farcaster protocol is open-source allowing anyone to join or build applications on top of it. Farcaster’s decentralized nature ensures a censorship-free environment where users control their data, interactions, and audience.

In this article, we explain the meaning of Farcaster and discuss how Farcaster works.

History of Farcaster and the People Behind It

Farcaster was co-founded by Dan Romero and Varun Srinivasan in 2020. Before co-founding Farcaster, Romero and Srinivasan worked together at Coinbase for about five years between 2015 and 2019.

According to Crunchbase, Farcaster received an undisclosed seed round investment from venture firm Archetype on 1 January 2023.

Farcaster was initially built on top of Ethereum, but was later migrated to Layer 2 network Optimism in August 2023. Co-founder Romero reasoned that most of Farcaster’s active users and developers were building on Optimism.

How Does Farcaster Work?

Farcaster uses a hybrid architecture that stores user identity information on-chain while storing data on posts and interactions off-chain.

The protocol’s on-chain system is secured using smart contracts on the Optimism mainnet. The primary actions that are performed on-chain are:

  • Creating an account
  • Paying rent to store data
  • Adding account keys (or giving permission) to connected apps

Farcaster’s off-chain system comprises a peer-to-peer (P2P) network of servers called Hubs that store user data. The user actions that are performed off-chain include:

  • Posting a public message
  • Following another user
  • Reacting to a post
  • Updating your profile picture

Key Elements of Farcaster

Key Elements of Farcaster

To fully understand the definition of Farcaster and its decentralized social ecosystem, let’s read about the key elements that make up the Farcaster ecosystem.

1. Accounts:

Farcaster accounts let users set up their usernames, profile pictures and publish short text messages known as casts. Anyone with an Ethereum wallet can register a Farcaster account.

2. Usernames:

Farcaster uses the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) to manage account usernames.

3. Messages:

Accounts can publish five types of messages on Farcaster:

  • Casts are public messages that anyone can see;
  • Reactions are ‘likes’ on posts;
  • Links refer to following another account;
  • Profile data refers to the profile picture and display name;
  • Verification refers to proof of ownership of your Ethereum address.

4. Connected Apps: These are social apps on Farcaster that let users create accounts and post messages.

How to Use Farcaster?

You will need an Ethereum wallet like MetaMask or Coinbase Wallet to use Farcaster.

Using Ethereum Wallets

Here are important steps to start using Farcaster:

  • You can sign up for Farcaster on any one of its social apps. Find all Farcaster apps here.
  • The account creation page will ask you to create a keypair for your Farcaster account which will be used to sign transactions on your behalf.
  • Farcaster requires users to pay a sign-up fee. According to Farcaster, the sign-up fee is required to prevent network spamming and to pay for storage fees for your posts and messages.
  • As of 5 February 2024, Farcaster charges $7 + gas fee to set up an account. 
  • The fee covers storage fees for 5,000 casts, 2,500 reactions, and 2,500 follows.
  • Users can choose to avail extra storage for higher costs, and the fee is re-calculated periodically to balance network growth.
  • You will need ETH on Optimism to pay for Farcaster sign-up fees.

Using Warpcast

Farcaster recommends users sign up for the platform using its native Warpcast wallet. Here is how you can use Farcaster using Warpcast:

  • Download the Warpcast app on the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Tap “Create account” on the Warpcast app.
  • You will have to secure the secret recovery phrase for your Warpcast wallet. You may need it later to recover your wallet.
  • Enter your email address and verify it.
  • You must pay a $5 per year fee to create your Farcaster account on Warpcast.
  • The sign-up fee will be deducted from your Apple App Store or Google Play Store balance.
Using Warpcast
Source: Warpcast app screenshot

Farcaster Apps Clients

Here are some popular social applications on Farcaster:

  1. Warpcast: Twitter-like social media platform that allows users to post and reply to public messages.
  2. Paragraph: Newsletter publishing platform with features like NFT memberships and token-gating.
  3. Frens: A decentralized messaging app for secure and private on-chain communication.
  4. Ponder: A crypto-incentivized social survey app that rewards users for answering public surveys.
  5. Neynar: A developer-focused social app that offers tools and resources needed to build apps on Farcaster.

Farcaster Alternatives

Here are some decentralized social platform alternatives to Farcaster:

Platform Description
Nostr Nostr (Notes and Other Stuff, Transmitted by Relays) is an open protocol on top of which developers can create censorship-resistant social media applications. Nostr provides the infrastructure needed to create a decentralized social media network. Although there are a lot of similarities between the Nostr protocol and Farcaster, Nostr does not use blockchain technology.
Lens Protocol Lens Protocol is a decentralized social platform on the Polygon proof-of-stake blockchain. Numerous applications are built on the Lens Protocol across various categories, including social media, gaming, music, live streaming, and more.
Mastodon Mastodon is a decentralized social media platform that promises zero ads, zero algorithms, and full user control. The platform is a collection of social media websites. Mastodon is not powered by blockchain technology.

FAQs:

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Mensholong Lepcha

Mensholong Lepcha is a financial journalist specializing in cryptocurrencies and global equity markets. He has worked for reputed firms such as Reuters and Capital.com. Fascinated with blockchain technology, NFTs, and the contrarian school of investing, Mensholong has expertise in analyzing tokenomics, price movement, and technical details of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain networks. He has also written articles on a wide range of financial topics including commodities, forex, central bank monetary policies, and other economic news.