Social Identity

Whereas most existing identity concepts are either centralized (with a small number of large, institutional credential providers), or individualistic (with self-authentication), Social Identity solutions are aimed at expanding the scope of possible credential verifiers to include a wider variety of authenticators. To that end it can use non-transferable markers of affiliations, memberships, or credentials, such as Soulbound Tokens (SBTs) — which are a bit like NFTs, except that they are not bought, sold, or traded; or Verifiable Credentials (VCs), a tamper-evident credential using cryptography to authenticate its authorship. In doing so, Social Identity better embodies human identities’ social, and multi-dimensional characteristics.

Social Identity solutions are new and the possibilities are still emerging. But they are likely to become an important tool for establishing digital identity and defining community, unlocking important new governance structures. To name a few:

These are still early days for XIDs, and we are excited to help steer them in a productive direction.

Further Reading

Compressed to 0: The Silent Strings of Proof of Personhood - Puja Ohlhaver, Mikhail Nikulin, Paula Berman

Decentralized Society: Finding Web3’s Soul - E. Glen Weyl, Puja Ohlhaver, Vitalik Buterin

How Soulbound Tokens Can Make Gitcoin Grants More Pluralistic - Leon Erichsen

Intersectional Social Data - Lucas Geier, Kaliya Young, E. Glen Weyl

Motivating the Case for Decentralized Social Identity: Part One - E. Glen Weyl, Lucas Geiger, Kaliya Young

Motivating The Case for Decentralized Social Identity. Part Two - E. Glen Weyl, Lucas Geiger, Kaliya Young

Motivating the Case for Decentralized Social Identity: Part Three - E. Glen Weyl, Lucas Geiger, Kaliya Young

Plural Funding - E. Glen Weyl, Leon Erichsen

Soulbound - Vitalik Buterin

Verifying Identity as a Social Intersection - Nicole Immorlica, Matthew O. Jackson, E. Glen Weyl

Who Watches the Watchmen? A Review of Subjective Approaches for Sybil-Resistance in Proof of Personhood Protocols - Divya Siddarth, Sergey Ivliev, Santiago Siri, Paula Berman


BrightID - BrightID is a social identity network that allows people to prove to applications that they aren’t using multiple accounts. It solves the unique identity problem through the creation and analysis of a social graph.

Equality Protocol / Democracy Earth - Equality Protocol is a probabilistic score for human identity on Ethereum. The score results from a subjective (deliberative process) and an objective (Gini coefficients) input. Certain scores give you the right to participate in e.g. universal basic incomes or elections.

Goldfinch - Goldfinch is a decentralized credit protocol with a mission to expand access to capital and foster financial inclusion. The protocol makes crypto loans without crypto collateral.

Idena - Idena is a proof-of-person blockchain that proves the humanness and uniqueness of its participants by running AI-hard Turing tests around the globe at the same time. Every node in the network is linked to one cryptoidentity, one single person, and has equal voting power.

Optimism - The Optimism Collective is a new model for properly rewarding those who create or sustain public goods.

Sismo - Sismo issues ZK badges for reputation aggregation and privacy preserving access control.

Relation - With the awakening of data sovereignty, Relation is reconfiguring the social relations of individuals in a decentralized way. We make it possible for every Soul to mint readable, understandable, programmable SBTs to represent proofs of their friendships, affiliations, membership certificate qualifications, commitments, etc., on the chain.