As ubiquitous as social media may be these days, it’s not exactly all that trustworthy. More and more, we’re realizing just how unsafe and unsecure the Facebook and Twitters of the world truly are. Take the September 2018 catastrophe, for example, where Facebook admitted a data breach had possibly compromised the private information of up to 50 million accounts.
Even before that, social media had been fast developing a bad reputation. Between ads designed to target you based on web searches that shouldn’t be anyone’s business but your own, to downright creepy facial recognition software that automatically identifies and tags people, it seems like Mark Zuckerberg holds the keys to all our lives. It’s the kind of thing that would make anyone consider deleting all their accounts and going back to physical photo albums and actually calling people on the phone.
Thankfully, as the Internet evolves, so too can social media. Web 3.0 technology, particularly blockchain, will make the next Facebook smarter, more secure, and more personalized to your needs, rather than some faceless advertisers’ (or worse, some faceless trolls’).
Securing your data
Your data and personal information is getting sold and exploited to untold numbers of shady companies and advertisers, and that’s not cool. It’s your identity, and your information. You should be able to keep it private and decide who you want to see it. In the Web 3.0 world, you will. Blockchain technology will allow users to control their data, and decide for themselves who gets access to it, if anyone. If any outsider tries to nab this info, the nodes in the chain can work together to refuse verification and ensure they walk away with nothing.
Developers are making decentralized apps (Dapps) available that make it easier for users to decide where their personal info goes and who has access to it. Look into dapps like Skycoin for this purpose. Just don’t get confused and download Skynet instead, unless you want to accidentally launch Judgment Day.
Even better, Web 3.0 can help you profit off your own information. You own it, it’s yours, and if an advertiser wants to use it to help sell their product, they will have to negotiate with you directly. That means possibly paying you the coin of your choice for access to your data. Doesn’t that sound better than their paying some billionaire CEO whom you’ll never meet?
There are billions of social media accounts out there, and not all of them are real. Sadly, a good number of accounts are trolls, bots, and spammers. They exist for several reasons, many of which boil down to money. Either they want to trick you into clicking the wrong link so they can access your information for the sake of stealing your money, or they take your info and sell it for a hefty profit. Either way, it’s a plague that Web 3.0 can help eradicate.
We mentioned earlier about how blockchain technology will protect your data and keep it yours. But can it curtail bogus accounts altogether? Why, certainly. This technology is going to make it harder for fake accounts to exist, period. It will allow for local, decentralized, direct verification of identities and data, by yourself and other users in the blockchain. No more will you need to trust the anonymous keyboards at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to hunt down every less-than-authentic account out there. Instead, your digital neighbors will have your back.
This goes for companies as well. Not every business is as reputable and legit as, say, Starbucks or Target. Some are fronts for spammers, or simply bad businesses that misrepresent what they sell for the sake of clicks. Direct verification of a company’s data via the blockchain will make sure that nonsense stops, and that way you’ll know that if you choose to deal with a business, they’re reputable and worthy of your time and funds.
Curbing fake news
Regardless of your political stance, it’s clear that social media was affected greatly by “fake news.” Fabricated news stories from troll/bot accounts influenced personal opinions and voting habits, and social media’s poor handling of the issue damaged its reputation severely during the Web 2.0. It’s going to take an evolution to restore social media’s good name, and luckily Web 3.0 is just that.
It all comes down to that direct, decentralized user verification that gives the power back to the people. Shady accounts and questionable news stories will no longer have to be verified through third-party sources like PolitiWatch or Snopes, nor will we need to trust Facebook to accurately weed out what’s fake and what’s not. Instead, those within a blockchain will all communicate to rank content based on trustworthiness and accuracy. If the community downvotes a garbage user or link enough, it doesn’t spread all over social media feeds, period.
It’s not just text data, either. Expert trolls are sophisticated enough to fake anything, including videos. Back in 2017, University of Washington researchers were able to successfully create a President Obama speech that never actually happened. They took video footage of the President talking, and spliced together unrelated audio from various other speeches. They synced the two together perfectly, making it seem as if Obama was giving one big, coherent speech. This kind of expert cut-and-paste job, in the wrong hands, could make anyone look like they were saying anything some troll wants them to.
Enter Web 3.0. Dapps and platforms such as Prover enable users on a blockchain to accurately verify a video’s realisticness, or lack thereof. If enough nodes realize a video is pure junk, it doesn’t get past them and thus doesn’t spread throughout social media. All this will work to ensure that social media during the Web 3.0 era is honest, safe, and actually social.