In recent years, along with the advancement of blockchain technology, “Web3” has become an increasingly popular concept. However, what exactly does Web3 mean, and what impact will it have on our digital lives? Today, we will explore the main characteristics of Web3, starting from the status quo of Web2.
Why Do We Need Web3?
As the Internet has kept evolving since the early 21st century, Internet access has become almost universally available. In the meantime, the boom of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook means that people have moved beyond Web1’s “read-only” service model and ushered into Web2, which is read-write. Simply put, in the Web2 era we are currently in, users can not only browse news websites but also produce their own content, such as posting images and text on social media. Today, users are not just visitors to information posted on the Internet but also content creators.
Although Web2 has significantly enriched our digital experiences, its flaws have become increasingly apparent over time. From the ever-stringent content censorship on social media platforms to frequent data breaches and to the power grab by giants like Meta and Google, Web2 struggles with many challenges, and users long for a free and secure online environment, which has triggered the appearance of Web3.
Characteristics of Web3
Unlike the centralized Web2, Web3 is decentralized and will address the hidden troubles and pain points of Web2. Web3’s most prominent features can be summarized by three keywords: freedom, privacy & security, and anti-monopoly.
In the Web2 era, users often face restrictions, which can be platform censorship or community governance. Almost all centralized social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, review the content posted by users. Platforms have the power to delete posts and ban or even permanently suspend user accounts, which means that the content that we worked so hard to produce may disappear in an instant.
As we mentioned earlier, Web3 is a decentralized world that relies heavily on blockchain networks. As secure, immutable distributed ledgers, blockchains can be used to store all kinds of information, which cannot be deleted or modified arbitrarily. This also means that users own and control all the content they created in Web3. In other words, Web3 provides an environment where Internet users could enjoy genuine freedom of speech and creation, without having to worry about censorship by centralized platforms or institutions.
Privacy & Security
In Web2, user information and data are stored on centralized servers run by platforms. That is to say, data is owned and controlled by platforms running all the servers, rather than individual users. The centralized storage of data makes personal information easily accessible. For example, user data can be compromised due to various reasons such as data breaches caused by server attacks or companies selling user information. Moreover, plenty of platforms seek profits using user data. For instance, some access our browsing history to generate personalized ads, leaving us with virtually no privacy.
We often say that Web2 is read-write. By that logic, Web3 would be read-write-own. Privacy protection has always been a priority during the development of Web3. At its core, Web3 emphasizes data sovereignty, allowing users to truly own their data.
With blockchain technology and cryptographic algorithms, users need to provide encrypted verification of their digital identity to access their data, which safeguards information security. Apart from that, Web3 uses distributed storage to store user data on multiple nodes, instead of a centralized server. Such a distributed structure not only prevents security breaches caused by server attacks but also protects user data from unauthorized access and disclosure by centralized platforms.
Today, even though users can generate content and become content creators, platforms still hold all the power and exercise absolute control. For instance, tens of thousands of YouTubers earn revenue from their videos, but it is YouTube that controls user traffic and revenue distribution. This is why platforms are in charge: they can publish new rules or adjust the flow of user traffic at their discretion.
Unlike Web2, Web3 is governed by decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), enabling autonomy by users and communities. In a DAO, every member who has contributed to the community will have voting rights and can participate in the organization’s decision-making process. DAOs use smart contracts to execute decisions, automate management, ensure fairness and transparency, and prevent the centralization of power.
Imagine a digital life enabled by Web3: In that truly free and decentralized cyberspace, users own their data, fundamentally changing the way we interact with the Internet. Although Web3 remains in its infancy, the market has seen a growing number of Web3-based applications. We are confident that Web3 will capture the Internet spotlight in the coming decades.