How Many Users Does Farcaster Actually Have?

A Dune dashboard says 55,000 daily active users (DAU) , but their API says it may be a tenth of that.

By: Pedro Solimano Loading...

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Farcaster is the blockchain-based social media darling of this cycle, enjoying parabolic growth and a billion-dollar valuation, but data show active users may be a fraction of the most widely-cited numbers.

Farcaster has a public API endpoint, which fetches “Power Badge” users, defined as users “who are active, interesting to others and not spammy,” according to the app’s documentation. As social media is overrun by bots, Farcaster’s Power Badge users offer a more reliable way to gauge actual daily active users (DAU).

The Defiant ran the numbers and found there are 4,360 daily Power Badge users, compared with the 55,000 daily active users shown on the most popular Dune Analytics dashboard for the app. The dashboard measures DAUs by users performing some action on the platform, and is often cited by Farcaster co-founder Dan Romero.

"It's Just Bots"

The findings signal crypto-based social media adoption is still a niche use-case, even by crypto standards. For reference, exchanges Coinbase and Uniswap boast about 300,000 DAUs. Activity on crypto-based social media, also known as SocialFi, is negligible compared with web2 social media. X has 250 million DAUs.

The discrepancy between a superficial reading of Farcaster’s user data and the power-user numbers also signal how untrustworthy web3 activity metrics are as bots muddle the data.

“It's quite painful that I see a lot of those decentralized social projects, they try to say, ‘hey, we have this much DAU,’ – No, it's not real.The data is all open,” Suji Yan, the founder of Mask Network, one of the earliest blockchain-based social media networks, said in an interview. “It's an elephant in the room. Everyone should know that it's just bots.”

Entrepreneur Liron Shapira pointed to the relatively low Farcaster DAUs the public API was fetching in a May 23 X post. “I now believe Farcaster has between 50 and 5k DAUs, not 45k as a naive reading of Dune Analytics would suggest,” he wrote. He told The Defiant that the reason is that Dune “counts bots.”

Romero did not publicly reply to Shapira’s claims or to a request for comment from The Defiant.

Activity Slides

But even using Dune Analytics’ data, activity on Farcaster’s has been sliding lately. Reactions and casts–the equivalent of X’s posts or likes– have more than halved to 3.1 million from 6.1 million a month ago.

Farcaster DAUs - Dune Analytics

Farcaster isn’t alone. In recent months, SocialFi has dipped towards its all-time low in activity, with most networks trending downwards with haste. BitClout, which launched in 2021 and is backed by big-name investors including Winklevoss Capital has all but faded out.

Another formerly popular SocialFi app, Friend Tech, showcases a meager 230 DAUs, down 97% from its peak.

Farcaster launched in 2020 with its founding team composed of Dan Romero and Varun Srinivasan. In June the protocol announced its most recent funding round, a $150 million Series A at a valuation of $1 billion, led by Paradigm Capital, a16z, and Huan Ventures among others. Srinivasan said Farcaster is “sufficiently decentralized.

White-Listed Accounts

Other analysts say Farcaster’s active users may be even lower than what the Power Badge user numbers suggest. Geoff Golberg, founder of Social Forensics, which specializes in social media analytics, said of the 4,344 accounts he found using the API on May 9, roughly 21% or 918 accounts didn’t register any activity.

Farcaster documentation shows accounts must be active to earn a Power Badge, which leads to an unsettling implication: A large number of accounts appear to have been white-listed to have Power Badges, Golberg said.

Golberg said he came to this conclusion after digging into the data when he found he had lost his Power Badge after criticizing Farcaster for inflating its metrics.

“It certainly feels as though the Farcaster team is attempting to silence my voice by reducing the visibility of my account,” he wrote in a May 9 post. “Web2 social’s shadowban has evolved to Web3 social’s shadowban.”

Walking the Web3 Talk

The implication that Farcaster is unilaterally and opaquely white-listing or shadow-banning accounts goes directly against the ethos of blockchain-based social media.

Web3 proponents say SocialFi will offer users permissionless access to open source social networks. The web3 ideal is that users will control their data and assets, and share the upside of the platforms’ growth.

Golberg’s analysis is likely not enough to prove that Farcaster is manipulating user engagement in a centralized way.

But the platform’s API does show that so far, a small subset of crypto users are walking the talk when it comes to using SocialFi.