The shifting dynamic of social media: how Web3 aims to overcome Web2’s shortcomings
Unlike Web2, Web3 is more inclusive and empowers end-users by creating censorship-resistant ecosystem that benefits all participants.
Social media has changed the way we interact with others. It has also changed the way we think about ourselves.
The internet was only becoming popular when social media emerged, and these two platforms have profoundly affected one another.
These days, social media platforms are being increasingly used to express individual opinions and ideas to a broader audience.
This leads to increased online activism, which has positive and negative effects on society.
Likewise, there has been an increase in social media platforms for communication between content creators and their fans. This paved the way for social media influencers and new verticals for marketing companies and ad agencies.
Becoming the hottest marketing spots, social media platforms have adapted to position themselves as integral parts of our lives.
Now, with Web3 – the decentralized internet – around the horizon, social media platforms get an upgrade that would obliterate the shortcomings of the Web2 ecosystem (the current version of the internet), and the platforms built atop it.
The origin story
The origins of digital communication goes back to the 1840s. But the inception of the modern internet and social media was way back in 1969.
That was when the United States Department of Defense started using the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).
At that time, ARPANET allowed scientists from four interconnected universities to share software alongside data and resources via its digital network.
Almost two decades later, the National Science Foundation unveiled a nationwide digital network, NSFNET, which is said to be the direct predecessor to today’s internet infrastructure.
Between the late 80s and 90s, the number of internet users started to increase substantially, thus leading to a wave of online communication services.
Platforms such as CompuServe, Prodigy, and America Online played vital roles in introducing end-users to digital communication, including emails, messaging via bulletin boards, and real-time online chats.
Just as the internet was garnering more mainstream adoption, Six Degrees, one of the earliest social media platforms, was launched in 1997.
Though short-lived, Six Degrees was the first successful attempt at creating a profile photo uploading service. Soon after, in 2001, another social media platform called Friendster entered the nascent Web2 ecosystem.
Then came blogs, unlocking a new form of digital communication via comments and replies.
Platforms like LiveJournal and Blogger started gaining popularity during this period. Cumulatively, these rudimentary platforms amassed millions of active users.
Other well-known social networking platforms that emerged in the early days of the internet include MySpace and Google+. Launched in 2003, MySpace was the most-visited website worldwide by 2006.
Users could share updates on their profile pages, connect, and chat with friends through this platform.
However, after the initial spike in popularity, MySpace faded as new-age social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn entered the scene.
Google’s attempt at breaking into the social networking market through Google+, too, didn’t achieve much success and finally came to an end in 2018.
The current scenario
Web2, the version of the internet that we know and use now, has no shortage of social media networking services.
Some of the most prominent players include Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and the more recent additions of Snapchat and TikTok.
Launched in 2004, Facebook has more than 2.9 billion active users, making it the most popular social networking site.
Facebook-owned Instagram also has a massive user base, which continues to grow as the platform expands into Web3 primitives like NFTs.
Reddit, launched in 2005, is a community-driven platform commanding thousands of communities (subreddits) and more than 300 million users, sharing news and interacting with each other through comments and replies.
Likewise, Twitter, launched in 2006, features more than 300 million global daily active users.
Even short video content sharing platforms like TikTok have risen to popularity in recent years, boasting billions of daily active users worldwide.
Other platforms like Pinterest and Snapchat also have their respective communities, each seeing a surge in monthly active users.
While these numbers sound promising, the Web2 ecosystem has a few shortcomings.
For instance, the increasing dependence on centralized service providers that run and manage these multi-billion-dollar platforms has led to a scenario where users no longer control their online data.
Large corporations are harvesting user data and monetizing it, while end-users get nothing despite being bombarded with advertising and spam.
On top of that, most of this data is stored in third-party servers and data warehouses. Most of which are vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Over the years, reports related to identity theft, unauthorized use of PII (Personal Identifiable Information), frauds, and hacks have increased. This indicates that the Web2 ecosystem needs upgraded protection.
Adding to the above, the over-dependence on centralization has also impacted the core fundamentals of social media networking.
The access to free speech is increasingly controlled by centralized organizations, which, according to their bias (and profits), spare no second thought in implementing unwarranted censorship.
Moreover, content creators on existing Web2 platforms entirely rely on centralized organizations for monetization.
The biggest drawback of social media platforms is the end-user gets nothing even after helping content creators generate revenue.
The way forward
Web3 promises a decentralized internet without any centralized authorities. It will be a peer-to-peer ecosystem where users will fully control their data and how they want to use it.
Unlike Web2, Web3 is more inclusive and focuses on empowering content creators and end-users by creating a censorship-resistant, crypto-powered ecosystem that benefits all participants.
Although still in the early stages, Web3 projects are laying the groundwork for a new era of social media networking.
Take, for instance, Taki. As a blockchain-powered social network, Taki aims to build a community-focused ecosystem via its engage-to-earn mechanism. This is to reward users with a stake in the network.
Taki presents itself as a global social network where every user can earn the platform-native $TAKI token by actively participating in the community.
The platform rewards users with $TAKI for creating and engaging with content, such as liking and commenting on other posts.
It is built on the Solana blockchain and has crossed over 600,000 sign-ups since its invite-only launch in February 2022.
Another blockchain-powered platform, PIP, aims to complement existing social media networks. This enables users to connect highly scalable blockchains like Solana with Web2 platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Via this undertaking, PIP empowers users to send and receive digital assets without any centralized control or high fee.
PIP connects the Web2 ecosystem with Web3 while seamlessly linking social identity to crypto ownership.
Not only does this help Web2 creators to monetize their content without having to deal with the whims and fancies of centralized organizations, but it also lays the bridge that connects billions of social media users to the crypto and Web3 ecosystems.
Users become increasingly aware of data ownership and privacy as the underlying technology evolves.
The emergence of blockchain technology has unlocked tools that were previously unavailable to build a new era of social networking.
The technical innovations, paired with the changing consumer behavior, will lead to a new wave of social media and content-sharing platforms focusing on building circular and sustainable economies, benefiting all participating stakeholders.
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