The internet is no longer just a server-based platform with static web pages that users access for information. Indeed, the internet in its original form was truly just "Read Only". With the advancements of html and other programming languages, the internet has expanded and become more interactive over the years. New, more advanced internet-based services created the current version of the Internet, also known as "Web2".
Web2 refers to the second generation of internet services, which is primarily centered on providing users with the ability to interact with content that is hosted on the web. Alongside improvements in interoperability and usability for end users, the Web2 revolution has fostered the growth of user-generated content. When it comes to Web2, changes to the underlying technical infrastructure of the internet have not been a priority. Instead, it places an emphasis on modifying the layout of websites as well as ways to improve the user experience. Because Web2 encourages users to collaborate and communicate with one another through P2P transactions, it has paved the way for the development of e-commerce and social media platforms.
Big tech companies like Meta, Google, Amazon, etc., are the pioneers of Web2 and have dominated the internet we currently use, enabling unprecedented levels of global connectivity – but the underlying algorithm that fuels this iteration can be problematic.
In Web2, trusted intermediaries make it particularly easy for large institutions to gain control over the data of individual users. In the event that two parties wish to carry out a transaction but do not know or trust one another, the only option available to them is to rely on third parties who are recognized and trustworthy. When we surf through these websites, they are continuously monitoring user activity and developing their algorithms in a way that strengthens their hold on users.
Now that we’ve taken a look at how Web2 works, let’s dive into the next iteration of the internet, also known as “Web3”.
Web3 is going to change the way we interact with each other online. When compared to Web2, Web3 shows promise as an enhancement, particularly in light of the significant changes it brings to the underlying technical infrastructure. The third generation of the web makes use of an advanced metadata system. This version is also referred to as the semantic web. The metadata system provides assistance in gathering and organizing diverse types of data in order to render it understandable for both humans and machines.
This change in infrastructure also promises a different experience for users as a whole. Instead of trusting a third party with control over user data, the approach for Web3 would be an amalgamation of various blockchain-based applications that run independently, without going through any central party like Google or Amazon. This creates a whole new experience for users, as they will be able to access services on the internet without completely disclosing their data. Web3 focuses on a decentralized internet where users are the sole owners of their data.
Another important innovation that could shape the future of the internet is the Metaverse. With Web3 as the basis for everything, the Metaverse will also play a key role in bringing together immersive virtual world experiences where people can get together and interact. Experts say that the Metaverse is going to have a huge impact on various sectors, especially gaming, social media, retail, and more.
Following the recent announcement by Mark Zuckerberg officially declaring "Meta" as the parent company that intends to build the Metaverse in coming years, Microsoft has also dipped its toes into developing a Metaverse of its own. It may only be a matter of time until we see all the metaverses coming together in an interoperable manner, with users able to jump from one virtual reality to another. This will probably be facilitated by a decentralized wallet that can store their identity credentials.
Social networking and making friends on Web2 sites continue to rise in popularity, but these platforms are also an accessible target for spyware. With Web2 apps, such as social networks and blogs, hackers tend to be on the tails of the increasing number of people using them.
Social networking platforms represent two main types of danger: technological and social. Basically, millions of people can upload content on Web2 sites, and criminal users are continuously attempting to post malware on these sites. An increasing number of people are disclosing sensitive personal information on social networking sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Because of this, they are more likely to fall for phishing attacks, which appear more genuine because of the information they have collected.
Added to that, when you sign in to your Google or Facebook account, your identity is checked through a central server. Even though it may seem convenient to use these already-set-up accounts to log in, it raises privacy concerns. As you use your account, these big intermediaries will gather metadata, such as when and for how long you used the service, where you were, and what other online activities you did during that time. Often, this information is used to make ads that are more relevant to you. It can be surprising how quickly you start seeing ads for something you looked up while your activity was being tracked. And ads seem pretty harmless compared to other things that could be realized with this metadata, such as building political ad profiles to target with specific content during elections.
Either way, the only remedy for the problems for centralized data control is providing users with custody of their own data.
A decentralized identity system lies at the core of Web 3. Users in this system are expected to own their own digital identity as credentials in their wallet. This allows users to have full custody over their digital identity rather than depending on a centralized server login, which would require them to enter a username and password to gain access.
A centralized login system presents a variety of problems that tend to go unnoticed in our daily internet usage. One example of this are spam profiles. Almost everyone who has been using any sort of social media is aware of spammers or automated messages delivered through fake profiles.
The silent creeping of bot accounts masquerading as real people might not seem to affect you and me on a personal level, but when considered on a larger scale, it can make a big difference. These profiles are code-generated fake IDs that are used for various, often nefarious reasons.
The current digital identity infrastructure is incapable of identifying if a profile is created by a real human or a bot. One possible solution to this can be using a decentralized identity management system – which establishes authentication using credentials attached to a wallet – as a requirement for creating a profile. These credentials are unique and cannot be duplicated. Each credential can be used to create one account only. They are designed for Web3 applications and help in identifying real users from fake bots.
Living Avatar NFTs can be used by real users to prove they are not bots and verify their identities on-chain. This brings in a new way to create a digital profile, one in which verified credentials act as a proof mechanism for the identity holder.
Elon Musk recently made an offer to buy Twitter. However, he claims that he ultimately decided against the move because the company was unable to provide him with an accurate figure of how many bot accounts were active on the platform. This can be an alarming problem because bot accounts are almost indistinguishable from real profiles, making their impact hard to assess or quantify.
With the evolution of Web3 and the Metaverse, it is very important that we keep a check on bots so that they do not go on to dominate and compromise the integrity of Web3 platforms. A decentralized identity system is extremely important for implementing a secured identity-owned infrastructure.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have the potential to play an important role in the development of a decentralized infrastructure due to their technical and fundamental properties. Every NFT contains a one-of-a-kind digital signature that cannot be replicated by any other NFT. With the help of NFTs, digital identity credentials can be established that are non-fungible in nature, and therefore cannot be duplicated. These NFT-based credentials can now be used to create profiles and transact with others.
The concept of the Living Avatar NFT brings together the ideas of identity verification and NFTs. Participants on the MetaProof Platform (previously POI platform) can custom mint their NFTs, which can then be used as an avatar that is unique and cannot be duplicated.
Living Avatar NFTs, on the other hand, are more than just one-of-a-kind avatars. Users also have the ability to insert extra personalized information on these NFTs, which helps to further distinguish them. Therefore, a participant on the MetaProof Platform who possesses a unique Living Avatar NFT will have the ability to use it to prove specific characteristics about themselves. The proposed concept has the potential to alter the way in which identity is managed in Web2.
With the fast advancements being made on the internet’s infrastructure, digital identity will be one of the areas where major changes will take place in the coming future. A semantic web and the Metaverse need a decentralized identity management system that limits the number of fake IDs created.
The number of bot accounts currently out there is just a taste of what could eventually evolve into a major problem. If the right steps aren't taken, it won't be long before these fake IDs make it very hard for real people to join any network. Spamming and running automated campaigns can ruin the user experience in ways we haven't even thought of yet.
SelfKey is helping to create a new generation digital identity system for Web3 and the Metaverse. SelfKey's vision for digital identity is built into its very foundations. The project’s living avatar NFTs will be secured by cryptography with verified credentials attached, in order to check the validity of the Identifiers. This adds an extra protective layer to the digital identities stored as living avatar NFTs in the SelfKey wallet.
Users will have full control over, access to, and ownership of their digital identities. SelfKey is designed to be censorship-proof, fair, inclusive, agile, and lean. It has a well-established open-source technology stack and a clear legal and governance architecture that are delineated by the SelfKey Foundation with the help of the SelfKey community. SelfKey can adapt to meet the needs of modern societies and the global Internet by protecting basic identity freedoms through decentralized identity verification.