The newest entrant into the decentralized social media (DeSo) landscape, Friend.tech, is facing a storm of criticism following a contentious move to penalize users who choose to explore forks or copycat versions of its tokenized social media platform.
In an unexpected announcement on August 28th, the official friend.tech X account tweeted, “To ensure loyal users are rewarded fairly during our beta, users moving to forks and copies will automatically opt out of earning Points and forfeit existing points.” Though the tweet refrained from mentioning specific competitors, users quickly linked the policy to Shares, a new DeSo application dubbed “SocialFi,” scheduled for a public beta release on August 31st.
Friend.tech has been distributing “reward points” to its beta testers every week, culminating in a total distribution of 100 million points over six months. While the ultimate purpose of these points remains undisclosed, the app’s team hinted at their special significance upon the official release.
Speculations are rife within the community, with some anticipating the points converting into tokens for friend.tech governance, while others speculate they may hold financial value for users. Further speculation has arisen due to the seed round investment from Paradigm, leading many to predict an eventual airdrop of a native token.
However, this announcement sparked a swift and substantial backlash within the crypto community. Within the first hour of posting, the announcement garnered hundreds of negative comments and reposts, vehemently criticizing the app’s anti-competitive stance. CryptoKaleo, a pseudonymous trader, lamented, “Threatening/penalizing users for trialing other platforms is completely against everything this industry stands for.”
The situation escalated rapidly, prompting an apology from “Racer,” the pseudonymous founder of friend.tech, who acknowledged the ill-advised nature of the earlier decision. Racer admitted that the statement was a “stupid” one driven by apprehension over potential competition.
The controversy arose less than three weeks after friend.tech’s public launch on August 11. However, the app’s key metrics, including activity, inflows, and volume, have experienced a notable decline in recent days. Transaction data from Dune Analytics reveals that friend.tech’s transactions have plummeted by over 90% from the peak of nearly 525,000 transactions on August 21 to less than 50,000 cumulative transactions on August 28.
A friend.tech navigates this storm of criticism and reassesses its stance; the DeSo landscape continues to evolve rapidly. The incident highlights the industry’s commitment to openness, innovation, and healthy competition and serves as a reminder that any deviation from these principles can lead to swift and significant consequences.