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Vitalik Buterin Backs Private Likes and Proposes Zero-Knowledge Technology for Social Media

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin expressed his support for X engineer Haofei’s announcement on the decentralized social media platform Farcaster, where Haofei revealed that X will make “Likes” private.

On May 20, Buterin expanded on this idea, suggesting that Farcaster should implement zero-knowledge (ZK) likes to address preference falsification—misrepresenting true preferences due to social pressure or fear.

Zero-knowledge technology is a privacy-preserving cryptography method that enables one party to prove a statement’s truth to another without revealing confidential information.

Applied to likes, it would allow someone to prove they liked a post without revealing their identity.

Buterin proposed borrowing ZK technology from Zupoll, a tool used within the pop-up city concept he initiated, Zuzalu. Zupoll, focused on decentralization and cryptography, is utilized for anonymous voting and poll decision-making.

Buterin’s suggestion to use ZK technology aligns with Farcaster’s principles: user privacy, censorship resistance, autonomy, and differentiation from centralized social media platforms.

In response to rumors that X might hide users’ likes by default, Haofei confirmed that the platform would make likes private, explaining:

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“Public likes are incentivizing the wrong behavior. For example, many people feel discouraged from liking content that might be ‘edgy’ in fear of retaliation from trolls, or to protect their public image.”

Haofei added that users would soon be able to like posts “without worrying who might see it,” and emphasized that “the more posts you like, the better for you the algorithm will become.”

Community reactions were mixed. Some users suggested extending the idea to other features, stating, “Why stop at likes? Following is the same.”

In contrast, high-profile accounts like Wall Street Silver offered differing opinions.

Beyond ZK cryptography, Buterin has proposed solutions to mitigate the miner extracted value (MEV) issue.

MEV strategies allow validators to profit by arranging transactions within a block to exploit arbitrage opportunities.

However, this practice congests the network, increases trader slippage, and raises gas fees.

To address this, Buterin recommended MEV minimization quarantine techniques, the use of inclusion lists, and reduced requirements to run a node.

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