The founder of Telegram has announced that the company is exploring introducing elements of Web3, and would consider using smart contracts to auction usernames.
In Web3, you can own your own identity
One of the problems with Web2 is the centralisation of data. Facebook stores all their customers’ data, and their customers have little to no input as to how that data is used.
People who use Web2 platforms lose all rights to privacy and have very little control with regard to what their centralised overlords may dictate.
One only has to look at past political events such as Cambridge Analytica’s overt involvement in the Brexit campaign, and realise that handing over one’s data makes them vulnerable to being manipulated.
Not only this, but Facebook creates shadow profiles for people who don’t use their site: with cookies, Facebook can build up profiles to understand and better tailor their algorithms even for people who don’t have an account.
Telegram pushing for greater user sovereignty
Privacy and autonomy has always been at the heard of Telegram’s mission, and is one of the reasons that the application is so popular.
It is because of how antithetical Telegram is when compared to its competitors, such as WhatsApp (now owned by Meta), that Telegram has been gaining so much popularity in the past few years – messages on Telegram are encrypted by default.
Creating an opportunity cost for spam
At the moment, it is very difficult to verify whether or not a particular user is a bot, and this opens the door to a lot of spam.
At the moment there is a lot of spam on social media, and Twitter and Telegram are some of the worst examples of it.
The reason that there is so much is because it isn’t difficult to make an account and the rewards for doing so can potentially be quite high.
All it takes to make a Telegram account is a phone number. Given the technology that’s currently available, and Russian markets where phone numbers can be “rented” specifically for this purpose, the cost of making new accounts and creating spam is almost nil.
The same applies to Twitter, who have their own method of verification that clearly doesn’t work very well: spam on Twitter appears to have exploded in recent months, and Musk’s challenges to the company that only 5% of their users are bots has not yet been answered satisfactorily.
Bitcoin advocates such as Michael Saylor have discussed a potential use case of Bitcoin on lightning to be authenticating oneself to use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and for the company to take an account’s pledged BTC if they send too much spam.
This is a solution in that it creates an opportunity cost for spam, but it doesn’t fully traverse the void between Web2 and Web3: higher property rights can be granted to users if they can own their own NFTs and all the benefits that come with that, rather than simply pledging BTC to authenticate themselves on a platform that remains overly centralised.
Improving the user experience – an interoperable social media
One of the other reasons that Telegram has become so popular recently is thanks to the proliferation of group chats, telegram bots and communities that choose to communicate on the app.
Crypto communities, whistleblower communities, news channels, and many others have sought to make Telegram a home for their communities. The user interface allows for seamless and easy interaction, without all the frills that other platforms have.
A marketplace for names would ensure that people can trust the people who are messaging them on Telegram, and are less likely to fall victim to scams if they know that the sender has spent money on authenticating themselves.
Not only this, but the marketplace would be a brilliant source of revenue for Telegram, which currently does not generate revenue. By offering this service to their users they would solve a lot of problems with their current business model and start generating revenue whilst also improving the user experience.
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