What Web5 means for social media?

The war between Web3 and Web5 has already broken out. It officially began on June 10 this year with the announcement of the bitcoin-powered Web5 platform by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who had previously faced conflicts of interest with Web3 advocates such as Marc Andreesen, an investor of Web3 projects. The Web5 platform intends to provide decentralized identification and data storage within social media apps, “returning ownership of data and identification to individuals,” — the company states.

In this chaotic world, it is almost impossible to adjust to changes. No sooner had the world been tossed around by the Web3 wave than the second one, Web5, a merger of Web2 + Web3 swooped in. The concept of Web5 combining the best Web2 and Web3 have to offer their users has arisen as the idea of a fully decentralized Web3 is hard to implement.

Despite the differences in the decentralization approach (see below for details), both directions are similar in one thing — to unite the silos of user data on social networks for their secure storage and operation. After all, as Tim Berners Lee noted, “transformation is hampered by different parts of one’s life being managed by different silos”.

OneArt has taken a look at Web5 and its main features to share its view on another buzzword (spoiler: probably future reality). But first, let’s answer the question: why do we need this Web5? Are things so deplorable with current social media?

Managing your social media data is not your burden

Web5 intends to plug the “lack of identification” hole of the modern Internet. By registering on another site and making up a password for the hundredth time (or entering a password you have long known), you open a gateway for third parties to manage your identity and personal data. You are the property of tech giant companies. There’s hardly anything good to be found in this, unless it’s just another cat meme shown to you based on an analysis of your browsing history.

Although phone numbers, passwords, biometrics, and scanned images of identity documents look like a reliable way of identification, in practice they can be even more damaging to privacy and intensify surveillance. Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and other social networks are no longer just companies selling their services, but mini governments that have taken users under their thumb and do not allow them to get out from under their power easily. If you decide that you don’t like Twitter’s policy, your only way out is to give up your audience and the content you so reverently generated. When you delete your Twitter account, you delete everything and start from scratch when you move to another platform.

Remember when Facebook bought WhatsApp and users forever forgot about the level of data security that WhatsApp offered? Users faced a choice: give their data to Facebook for control or forget to talk “about everything” with their best friends.

Source: Privacy International

With Web5, managing your data is now your prerogative. You are in control of your social media accounts. “Self-sovereign identity requires that users be the rulers of their own identity.” — Christopher Allen said back in 2015.

Web5 focuses on identity, rather than tokenomics

While Web3 initiatives are built mostly on Ethereum, which supports the creation of a tokenized economy, Dorsey’s project and its components assume a foundation in the form of the Bitcoin network. Since Web5 is more focused on identity rather than a tokenized economy, the choice of such a foundation is explained.

What will Web5 be in a technical sense?

Imagine one Decentralized Web Platform on which developers could build Decentralized Web Apps with Decentralized Identifiers at the core supported by Decentralized Web Nodes. It is a would-be tech picture of the social media future.

The interaction of all these components can spawn a system that provides:

  • Identity control by a user

With the help of a digital wallet, which contains the necessary data for authorization in the application. I.e. with a wallet you will be able to enter a social application without constantly creating a profile or entering a username and password. Moreover, you can seamlessly switch between applications while keeping all your data (subscriptions, messages, saved items, etc.) stored on the nodes. You will also be able to delete an account from, say, Twitter without losing any of your data.

  • Secure data storage and management

Take your music playlist. When you move from one music provider to another, all of your preferences, favorites, and playlists (aka your data) will be saved. You simply can grant access to your data node to a new application and continue to enjoy your favorite music.

Wait, that reminds me of Web3, you say! And you would be somewhat right. Secure data storage, user data management, and creating one’s own digital identity are not the hallmarks of the centralized Web2, but of the one after it. While Web3 adherents believe in the feasibility of decentralization, Web5 proponents are striving to stand out with extra decentralization. People will be the main engine of the ecosystem, — Dorsey said when asked about the differences between Web3 and Web5.

However, Bitcoin, the network on which Web5 is supposed to be built, is not exactly decentralized per se. Indeed, 2% of accounts own 95% of bitcoin while 0.1% of bitcoin miners are responsible for about 50% of mining.

Given that this whole Web5 story is only in its infancy, it is difficult to predict what will be viable and what degree of decentralization awaits us.

Web5 and social media: what are the odds of a perfect merger?

Theoretically, the chances are quite high, since the potentially fake-free and user-centric field is a great probability to bring about fair and more interactive social networks without violating personal boundaries (only if with the permission of the user). Hence Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter (already a failure today) would prove to be a flop in the long run. Twitter may simply lose social influence and its main goal of gathering and controlling individuals’ data can be a thing of the past.

What is really important is that the compatibility of the current widespread Internet and social networks is increasingly being challenged. The issue of confidentiality and independence from someone at the top is still a pressing one. With a new generation of Internet coming to all of us, addressing this issue is a high priority. Only time can determine whether Web5 and social media become the perfect fusion. But until then, there are still many things to solve, such as building a reliable infrastructure. Big things always start small. OneArt has already plunged headlong into building that very foundation: you can start with the OneArt wallet to make the transition to the post-Web2 social world more seamless.

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