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Web3 in Social Networking: A Gateway to Decentralized Social Communication

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There is no denying that web 2.0 has made connecting with family, friends and colleagues a child’s play. Social media networks like Facebook, WhatsApp and more, built on web 2.0, are helping geographically dispersed family members and others to interact and share regular updates about themselves through texts, calls and even video calls. Many statistics show that almost half of the world’s population uses social media platforms. It is assisting many users in building a name for themselves. Since its inception, social media has helped many users promote their businesses, interact with a wide range of people, gain popularity, get rich and whatnot. However, all the benefits are at the cost of something great.

Traditional social networking sites are all centralized, having their fair share of problems like data breaches, censorship, privacy violations, server outages, de-platforming and much more. For all the free services they offer, they are causing far greater trouble. Thus, many developers and businesses are shifting to web3 social media platforms to combat these problems, considering their advantages over traditional social media. This article will shed light on the benefits and use cases of web3 in social networking and their advantages over web 2.0 social media platforms.

What is social networking? How is it different from social media?

Although social media and social networking are often used interchangeably, both are different at their core. Social networking is connecting and interacting with friends, colleagues, family, customers or anyone through internet-based social media sites. It refers to building an interactive environment for personal and organizational relationships to create a network.

Social media is, however, a tool or medium for social networking. The most prominent social media of web 2.0 include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Discord, LinkedIn, Telegram, WhatsApp and more, which help users to connect and interact through texts, posts, comments and other means. Users can access social media through computers, phones and tablets on web-based applications or software.

Social networking serves the following four objectives:

  • Sharing – Geographically dispersed family or friends can interact and share information, photos, videos and other updates via social media sites.
  • Interacting – Social networking promotes an interactive community by breaking the barriers of distance and time. Users can communicate with each other not only through messages but also via video communication technologies like WhatsApp.
  • Learning – Social networking helps users receive the latest news and regular updates from friends and family and share information about their studies or work that promote learning.
  • Marketing – Social networking allows businesses to build brand awareness through advertisements and reach out to new and existing clients.

What is web3 in social networking?

Web 2.0 social networking is centralized, with little to no privacy for users and their data. It is dominated by tech giants with complete power and authority over user information. Users who create content in web 2.0 social media platforms have no control over their own content. The tech giants who own such social media platforms can delete any content without the users’ permission.

Web3 in social networking is a paradigm shift from this traditional web 2.0 social network. It aims to build a decentralized social networking ecosystem where users own and control their own data. Currently, users spend much time watching videos, reading blogs, or just scrolling through their feeds. Although these platforms generate large revenue from users, most users get no monetary benefits out of them. Web3 can incentivize users and do a lot more for them.

How do web3 social networks work?

Web3 social networks are built on the technology that powers Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies- blockchain, which is a transparent digital ledger that can store immutable data. Being built on blockchain, web3 social networks are decentralized and are thus a class of decentralized applications(dApps).

dApps are powered by smart contracts that serve as a social media application’s backend and define their business logic. These dApps exist on a peer-to-peer network that involves thousands of nodes worldwide. Even if certain nodes malfunction, it cannot affect the entire network. As such, the network will perform unimpeded, promoting failure-resistant applications.

Currently, several blockchain-powered web3 platforms like blogging platforms, web browsers, video-sharing platforms, social networking platforms and more reward both creators and consumers. Each of these web3 platforms is powered by their native tokens, where each user benefits instead of a set group of people enjoying the benefits. Users can also purchase these tokens to access specific features, tip their favorite content creators, or complete in-app purchases.

Why web3 social media platforms?

Web 2.0 social networking puts many users at stake, and web3 in social networking can radically change how people connect and interact. Let us see how web3 social networks are beneficial over web 2.0 social networks.

Open source

In web3, data lives on the open, decentralized and permissionless blockchain. No gatekeepers or censors exist that can change the API or block your access. It also eradicates project risks as developers do not have to depend on other protocols but can clone functionalities. However, this is different with web 2.0 applications. Twitter, for instance, once shut down its API to prevent developers from building similar apps.

The open-source nature of web3 allows developers to fork the codebase of any social media platform and build another with much better functionalities and user experience. As it is open source, web3 can be considered composable, and anyone can re-use the freely accessible on-chain code and speed up the development process.

Interoperability

Although at present, web3 is only partially interoperable, it is gradually approaching true interoperability. Web3 aims to connect each siloed blockchain environment to connect and communicate with each other. It allows users of a specific social media to share content, data, assets and more with another social media platform and facilitate better collaboration.

Free of bots and spammers

Web 2.0 social media platforms have millions of accounts, and not all of them are real. A considerable number of those accounts are fake, bots or spammers. Many trick you into clicking the wrong link so they can access your information to rob your money or sell the information for a hefty profit. Web3 can protect your data safely where you own it, and no one else can access it until you give permission. Moreover, blockchain technology promotes direct verification of identities and data, making it harder for fake accounts to exist.

User-owned content

In a web 2.0 social media platform, when a user generates content, it is not truly owned by the users. The entire ownership of the content lies with the platform owners. As such, your posts and content on traditional social media can be taken down for any reason. Web3 social media platforms are censorship-resistant, and no one but you own your content that lives on the blockchain. If you want to leave a specific platform, you can take your content with you to plug into another interface that benefits you more.

Benefits of web3 in social networking

Web3 in social media can help remove the current social networking issues and establish a new ecosystem. It has the following benefits:

Benefits of web3 in social networking

Eliminates the trend of viewing users as products

Social media platforms like Facebook are far from merely social networking platforms. Most existing social media platforms take advantage of the trust users have in them. It misuses the data and information we share while registering on the platform and sells it to third-party advertisers to gain a hefty profit. Facebook, for instance, gained an average revenue of 50.25 U.S. dollars per user in the United States of America and Canadian market during the second quarter of 2022. Most free social media platforms monopolize user data and incentivize them without regard for user privacy.

Web3 ends this social networking platform using users as a product. It prioritizes the safety and privacy of users by eliminating centralized overseers and replacing them with decentralized nodes and distributed data storage networks.

Better security

Since traditional social media sites have started collecting the social graph of each user, user privacy has been at risk. Each individual’s information received at the time of registration and other details like their friend list, posts they like, or groups they follow are all recorded to make a customized feed for them. These details are stored in centralized storage, prone to security risks. Any cyber criminal can break into the system and steal any amount of data to sell it to third-party advertisers. Cambridge Analytics Scandal is one of the most infamous data breaches where millions of Facebook users’ personal data were used for advertising during elections. Additionally, there are allegations of our phone calls being tapped and messages being recorded, to which no proof exists. But the possibilities exist as we often give several apps permission to access our phone calls and gallery.

Although web3 is not the remedy for all web 2.0 issues, it provides great relief from cyber-attacks and data breaches. Many solutions are being built on web3 to tackle data vulnerability issues. Any service backed by blockchain technology guarantees a minimum amount of security as the data it stores is immutable and cannot be manipulated. Moreover, obscuring and securing data through data encryption in blockchain makes it difficult for unauthorized parties to gain access to the server.

Improved control over the content

Owners of traditional social media platforms control social graphs curated by their platforms. They track down each user’s likes, comments, friends list, groups they follow and even their message in some cases. These details are then added to their social graph to give them a personalized user experience so that they remain inseparable from the platform and come back more often.

Even the advertisements you see on social media are meant specifically for you. Unfortunately, you have no right to own your data and social graph as you agree to the “Privacy Policy” and “User Service Agreement” of that specific platform while registering and logging in to your account. It also means that you give the power to the platform owners to delete any of your content or even your account if your content is found inappropriate.

Web3 gives the power of controlling their data and content back to the users rather than the platform owners. You own your content and social graph, and only you can grant access to anyone you wish; as such, no one but you can benefit from your social graph.

In-app payments

The majority of web 2.0 social networking platforms spare no effort to keep users from discontinuing their accounts. Introducing an in-app payment feature was one such way to enhance user experience. Most social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp have introduced this feature so that users can pay their friends, shop online, and order food without leaving the platform. Although most of these in-app payment systems promise security by issuing a PIN, the question is: To what extent? Considering all the data scandals and security breaches surrounding the existing social networking applications, many users are concerned about entering their financial details into these platforms.

Introduced primarily for cryptocurrency transactions, blockchain technology is the perfect option to integrate in-app payments. Web3 in social networking can seamlessly promote in-app payments with maximum protection and ease of use. Smart contracts can further boost peer-to-peer payments without the need for a third party.

Verifying content legitimacy

Not everything we see on the internet is true. Much fake news disguised as the truth appears daily in our social media feed, making us question the credibility of each social media post. According to data collected from the Center Statistics Office (CSO), almost 62% of the information on the internet is untrustworthy. The same is the case with social media. If more than half of the information provided by the internet is fake and untrustworthy, people become skeptical about believing a piece of news or content, even if it is true.

Web3 can offer valuable solutions to prevent the spread of illegitimate content. Some web3 platforms utilize algorithms built on the blockchain to validate the authenticity of user-generated content and videos. Although it could be more flawless, it is proving effective in curbing the rise of unreliable and malicious content. Another solution is offering blockchain-linked payments to users to trade for ranking the authenticity of the content.

Compensation for famous posts and influencers

Out of all the web 2.0 social media applications, YouTube remains the most beloved among influencers and content creators, thanks to the fact that it remunerates its most popular influencers based on the number of interactions their content witnesses. Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok follow on this list. Although other social media platforms like Instagram compensate their influencers, the model they follow differs from YouTube. Moreover, traditional social media platforms limit monetization opportunities for influencers.

In a web3 social media platform, user interactions are given preference over gaining followers. An influencer’s followers in a web 2.0 social media platform may not always be genuine, as many use bot accounts to increase their follower count. However, in web3 social media applications, the user interactions are tracked using blockchain ledgers that offer stronger metrics for fair compensation. Additionally, smart contracts can initiate automatic payment for influencers based on the metrics.

Online identity verification

Nowadays, fake accounts and bots populate social media platforms more than genuine users. Most fake news, scams, inappropriate content and illegal activities are done under these pretenses, fooling numerous innocent users. Many influencers pay for these accounts, mostly run by bots, to increase their followers’ count, likes, comments and shares. It has reached a point where users and even the platform owners cannot distinguish between genuine and fake accounts run by bots. Although all social media platforms are adopting measures to deal with this issue, no satisfactory solutions exist today.

Web3 in social networking can address this problem. It implements identity authentication techniques to remove the possibility of bots and fake accounts. With web3, you can enter your details in a blockchain from where any web3 services or social media platforms you access can cross-check your information to verify that you are a genuine person and not a bot.

Conclusion

Web3 in social networking can be considered a gateway to the decentralized future. It removes the power tech giants of web 2.0 have on our content and data and gives the control back to the rightful owners, that is, users. With web3, users are no longer a product. But they possess the right to own, control and monitor their data and help contribute to the social media platform. Incorporating several web3 components like the digital ledger, NFTs, cryptocurrencies, metaverse and more, it opens wider opportunities for content creators and users, expanding the scope of social media.

If you want to build a web3 social media platform, contact LeewayHertz today. Our expert developers can turn your dream project into reality.

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Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar

Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. The experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprises allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash’s ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s.
Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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