How a Twitter account suspension prompted a crypto developer to launch a rival platform

When Finn Stani Kulechov tweeted a joke saying he was selected as Twitter’s interim chief executive, the network briefly suspended his account

Stani Kulechov, chief executive of Aave, built a rival social network to Twitter based on blockchain technology. Bloomberg
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After Elon Musk said last month he would acquire Twitter, Finnish cryptocurrency developer Stani Kulechov jokingly tweeted that he had been selected as the social media platform’s interim chief executive.

Subsequently, Twitter briefly suspended his account.

Mr Kulechov delivered his response. He built a rival social network based on blockchain technology, which will become available for anyone to access.

The network, Lens Protocol, allows people to post and follow but differs from Twitter in a big way — each piece of content is associated with non-fungible token, giving the creator ownership over their posts, said Mr Kulechov, the founder and chief executive of the London-based start-up Aave.

Mr Musk and the Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey have expressed interest in creating a more decentralised Twitter and open-sourcing its algorithm.

Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Mr Musk has also raised doubts about whether he will even go through with the acquisition, citing concerns about bots on the network.

Lens Protocol is suited to handling many of the issues that Mr Musk has said he is worried about, Mr Kulechov said.

Blockchain-based tools can help verify identities, prevent spam and present an open system, he said. “Open sourcing comes by default with public blockchains,” Mr Kulechov said.

His own experiences with Twitter, including the temporary ban, helped inform the work on Lens Protocol.

“As a user, you’re very much at the mercy of the platforms,” Mr Kulechov said.

Converting enough people to a different social network is a big challenge, whether for blockchain-based networks or more ideological ones, like Gab or former US President Donald Trump’s Truth Social.

Then there is the flight from cryptocurrencies incited by the recent crash of the TerraUSD stablecoin.

An image of Elon Musk is seen on a smartphone placed on printed Twitter logos. Reuters
Updated: May 19, 2022, 4:30 AM