The Main Issues with Web2

The Main Issues with Web2

Before Web2

At the beginning, there was just the Web, a primitive, yet revolutionary conglomerate of grey pages that anyone in the world could view, provided they had a PC and the page’s address.

These pages soon became known as “web-sites”. They could display different kinds of content, but for most part they acted as digital brochures for businesses or individuals.

There was no interaction between the viewer and the website owner. It was a passive exchange of information, just like TV.

That was the 1990s. Jumping to the 2000s and something radically changed. The viewers became “users”. They could actively interact with the websites and they could even contribute to create content on them. Websites began to be called “platforms”. These platforms could offer different “editable” or “uploadable” content.

  • Wikipedia gave users the chance to create and edit topics on what was aiming to become the biggest encyclopaedia ever.

  • YouTube gave users the power to become broadcasters of their own personal TV channels.

  • Blogging platforms gave people a voice to spread their views and to offer information built from bottom-up rather than down-to-bottom like done by traditional news outlets.

This was Web2. It turned the classic web into a two-way street. The producer and the consumer blended until becoming one.

This story sounds beautiful and fascinating, but like every story, even the rise of web2 comes with dark shades.

Web2 fostered monopolies

Though web2 had the potential to decentralize the internet, unfortunately, it went into the opposite direction. Web2 allowed the formation of big monopolies that made people reliant on the same 3-4 companies.

These companies (above all Google, Meta, X) own most of the internet usage data. Combined, they own 99% of what people search online, of what they post and the profiles of whom they interact with. These companies know what and how people think. But mostly, these companies know what people like, dislike, what makes them happy, sad, scared, and even and especially, what makes them angry. Anger is the most addictive emotion, the one that creates the highest level of engagement, and it does that very fast. It can take several positive videos to make a user happy, but it takes just one short video with a shocking headline to make a user angry and ready to debate in the comments section.

Web2 is built to be addictive

There are many products that are addictive. We can think of video games, TV series, football games and ect. However, web2 social media are also designed to manipulate users into consuming more and more content. And one of the easiest ways to ignite this cycle is to drive users into arguing. This will generate that strong drive to win a discussion which will make the users glued to the platform, where they will consume more content that will generate more usage data.

And where does this usage data go? To the company managing the social media service. This company will aggregate this usage data, will pack it and will sell it to the advertisers who buy ad spaces on its platform. All without you being aware of it.

Even if you don’t buy anything from these advertisers, you’re still going to generate more precious data that will help them to get a yes from someone else. If you are not the consumer, you are the product. You are the good to sell.

You are the most valuable product of Facebook

Do you know how much revenue each user produces for Facebook? In 2023, each user generates on average 39.60 USD. If you multiply this number for the 3 billion of users this platform has, the number is staggering!

The biggest issue with all of this is that you won’t get any share of these huge profits. Facebook doesn’t give you a service for free. You give data to Facebook for free! Data is the new oil. It’s like you go every day to an oil well, you work hard to extract that oil from earth, and then you give it all to Exxon for free.

In a nutshell, this is how the usual web2 social media business model works:

Have you noticed something here? When you take the first step the first time, using Facebook for free seems harmless. However, when you go back to that first step (Consume content on the platform for FREE) it turns out for what it really is: you generate precious data that can be sold to advertisers and you do this hard work for FREE!

This process is reiterated indefinitely, to become better and better at profiling you and everybody else.

They say that without this mechanism, it would be impossible to have services like Google or Facebook for free, but what if that was false?

Products like Ecosia or DuckGoGo showed you can have effective search engines for free, without giving up your data.

The same can be said of YouTube’s alternatives such as or Odyssey, which are even built on the blockchain (we’ll cover them in a future article).

These services are called “privacy-friendly”.

Why is online privacy important?

Online privacy assures you that you will not be spied on by companies without your consent. This allows you to have a healthier experience on the internet, where you won’t be targeted with tailored ads and destructive content that grabs all of your attention and gives you nothing in return.

But most of all, Web2 demonstrated how centralized services are prone to get hacked. Almost all the biggest online companies experienced some kind of data leak, such as:

  • Twitter API Leak (2022): 5.4 million users’ emails and passwords were stolen and sold on the dark web.

  • Quora Data Breach (2018): 100 million users’ emails and passwords stolen as well as possible third party accounts linked to the Quora account.

  • Cambridge Analytica Scandal (2018): The consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to millions of Facebook users’ private data without their consent, through a vulnerability in Facebook’s API system.

  • Facebook Data Breach (2019): And again Facebook saw 533 million of its users’ data being exposed and sold on the dark web. The data exposed this time included phone numbers, GPS locations and even names. When data of this kind is exposed, it can even pose physical harm risks for the users affected, like assault and kidnapping.

These episodes happen because centralized services have a single point of failure. When instead you rely on a decentralized infrastructure, hackers have no central target to attack, and it becomes extremely difficult (if not impossible) for them to penetrate a system and steal your data.

Online privacy—including the security and fairness that come with it—represent the mission that Web2 failed big time and that Web3 promises to accomplish.

Privacy is a fundamental right and an essential feature of a healthy, safe and fair society. Some influential voices, such as Jaron Lanier, go as far as stating that the issues with the current social media business model can jeopardize our existence as a species!

“We cannot have a society where, if two people wish to communicate, the only way it can happen if it's financed by a third party in the middle which wishes to manipulate them."

Jaron Lanier

How can we eliminate these third parties which manipulate us every day and give us nothing in return, while violating our privacy at every step we take? The next article will discuss the solutions that Web3 and SiBorg promise to offer in order to fix the cracks created by Web2.


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