Social Media

This Is What Elon Musk's Blockchain-Based Twitter Could Look Like

Credit: Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Leaked texts show Musk wants to make cryptocurrency and blockchain a key feature of Twitter, turning it into a WeChat-style super app.

By James Edwards

After months of legal drama and mud-slinging from both sides, Elon Musk looks set to finally follow through on his Twitter deal, providing him with a stake of approximately 9% and making him the largest individual shareholder.

While the specifics of the deal are still being worked out, previous reports show that Musk was offered a seat on the board as part of the original offer, and if he can obtain influence over at least 15% of shareholders then the board will be forced to negotiate with him regardless. 

This means that assuming the deal goes through, Musk could start reshaping Twitter in line with his personal vision – one that is likely to be blockchain based and incorporate cryptocurrency front and center.

Recently leaked text messages show Musk has been pursuing the idea of a blockchain-based social media app for some time now, and it was top of his mind just days before he made the offer to purchase Twitter back in April.

"I think a new social media company is needed that is based on a blockchain and includes payments," said Elon in a text to his brother Kimbal on April 9, 2022.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Musk's plans for Twitter go. The text to his brother makes it clear that cryptocurrency will be a core component of a grander and much wider ecosystem that Musk hopes will grow into a WeChat-style super app. 

As for making it all happen, Musk has a powerful ally in Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who has repeatedly advocated for Musk to lead Twitter and laments not making it an open source protocol in the first place.



So, assuming Musk will take over Twitter and transform it into a blockchain-based service (to some degree), let's explore what that could actually look like based on what we already know, and what we can reasonably expect given the current lay of the land.

WeChat-style crypto payments

It’s clear that payments will be central to Musk's version of Twitter, and in a June AMA with Twitter staff he identified them as one of three key pillars alongside news and entertainment.

In the AMA, Musk expressed his desire for the U.S. to have a WeChat-style super app that handles everything from payments to banking and bills. He noted that crypto will be part of this as Twitter already supports Bitcoin tipping officially, with secondary apps supporting Ethereum and other cryptos.

Crypto also provides several advantages over traditional digital payments, such as borderless transactions, automation via smart contracts, composability and even the ability to help combat spam.           

Combating bots with microtransactions

Spam bots have become a dominant narrative surrounding Twitter since Musk’s acquisition attempt began.

Estimates of the number of bots on the platform vary wildly, with Musk’s team claiming it could be as much as 33% of all public accounts, while Twitter itself places it as a more conservative 5% of daily active users. Either way, both sides agree the problem is real, and any existing Crypto Twitter user knows first-hand just how bad the problem is.


An example from my [James Edwards] own Twitter inbox, collected over just a few days.

Musk already has his own solution in mind for the bot problem, which involves microtransactions.

He proposed the following solution to his brother Kimbal on April 9, just days before he made his acquisition bid for Twitter public.

"I have an idea for a blockchain social media system that does both payments and short messages/links like [T]witter. You have to pay a tiny amount to register your message on the chain, which will cut out the vast majority of spam and bots. There is no throat to choke, so free speech is guaranteed."

Microtransactions require an extremely low transaction cost blockchain, though, which means popular networks like Ethereum's layer-1 or Bitcoin wouldn't be suitable. 

Instead, a low-cost chain like Polygon could be a good fit.

Twitter on Polygon?

Polygon (MATIC) is an EVM-compatible blockchain which can work with Ethereum-based applications. Transactions can cost less than a 1,000th of a cent, making it an ideal network for microtransactions.  

Better yet, there is already significant social media work being done on the chain via Lens Protocol, a new project led by Aave founder Stani Kulechov that is developing a series of social media tools and apps for blockchain developers. Lens essentially allows anyone to plug into existing social media tools like social graphs, profiles and posting features to launch their own social media apps easily without needing to redesign the wheel each time.

This idea of plugging into existing blockchain apps is broadly referred to as composability, and is one of the secret weapons of blockchain technology that makes it central to Web3. By porting Twitter over to a blockchain like Polygon and tapping into existing applications – both social media and otherwise – Elon Musk's dream of creating a super app becomes that much easier.

Composability: How Twitter will transform into a super app

Last week Musk mentioned that if he acquired Twitter it would speed up the development of “X” which he describes as a super app. 

Not much is known about this mysterious super app yet, or if it’s anything more than an idea, but it's clear the goal is for it to be analogous in functionality to the way WeChat is used in China. For instance, WeChat can be used for messaging, social networking, peer-to-peer payments, ecommerce shopping, food delivery and transport. 

By taking Twitter on-chain, composability could be used to rapidly speed up the development of X, or any super app. 

Composability builds on the idea of open source software and allows anyone to incorporate the code or features from other decentralized applications into their own software. This means instead of needing to develop their own everyday payments network (i.e. using Twitter to buy a cup of coffee), Twitter could tap into an existing one like Wyre and cut down on development time considerably.

This is why converting Twitter to a blockchain protocol on a network like Polygon makes so much sense. It would allow Twitter devs to tap into existing social network work being done by Lens, integrate Polygon and Ethereum's thousands of existing apps and services, and essentially enable Musk to turn Twitter into his dream super app much faster than if he were to follow a traditional development cycle.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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