Elon Musk has taken over Twitter and has often tweeted about a swarming bot problem. While he struggles to make the company profitable, there could be a new way to solve old problems using Web3, says Matthew Gould, the CEO of Unstoppable Domains.
Web3 domains have the power to eliminate Twitter’s bot army and return ownership and autonomy to the citizens of the internet.
Twitter has wrestled with its bot problem for years and new owner Elon Musk is the latest in a long line of (admittedly, less well-known) people to propose a solution to this issue.
The problem with bots is that they skew our picture of reality. They leave us clueless as to what’s real and what’s not; who’s human, and who’s just an algorithm.
Bots and their purpose
On the internet, bots are deployed to influence our online browsing activity, such as what we see and when. But also, they are used to launch denial-of-service attacks that overload a server’s resources, causing websites to falter and crash under the weight of fake usage.
On Twitter, between (allegedly) swinging election results, spreading political propaganda, and providing fake clout for influencers, bots present a more specific problem. They make it difficult for advertisers to know how many real humans they actually reach, and subsequently, how much to pay Twitter for its advertising real estate.
We know the abundance of bots was behind Musk’s hesitation in taking over the social media giant, but it still hasn’t been resolved yet.
Hey Elon, Here are some bot solutions
Musk proclaimed his $8 Twitter verification fee would be the solution – the theory being that, by paying for verification, more people have the opportunity to confirm their identity rather than try (and likely fail) to apply organically for a blue tick from Twitter Verified.
But the plan to charge people $8 a month for Twitter Blue status appears to have already failed. The assumption that malicious actors won’t fork out $8 a month to continue their nefarious schemes is hopeful at best.
In fact, the plan has already been put on hold after a mass of fake accounts imitating major brands and public figures emerged just hours after it was launched.
All of this matters because, if Twitter fails to solve its bot problem, its utility as a global force for free and open discussion will disappear.
No representation without authentication
Twitter’s bot problem won’t be solved overnight. Anyone who is itching to point and laugh at the platform’s new owner for failing to do so should step away from their phone.
If they do, they may realise how this latest social media storm is part of the bigger debate about digital identity that swirls around the internet and never seems to settle. It’s a topic that needs to be taken more seriously though because of how hard it is to control your online identity and to prove it when prompted.
Self-sovereign digital identities, which give people and businesses control over what information they use to prove who they are, eliminate the need for identity services controlled by big tech companies. They not only provide the solution to how Twitter can tackle its bot problem now but also show how all identity verification should be done from now on.
The power of this approach is seen most clearly in Web3 domains. These were first popularised as human-readable domains to replace crypto wallet addresses. This made it easier to send and receive digital assets, but they have even greater potential when it comes to verifying digital identities and logging into applications.
Self-sovereign digital identities and Twitter
Twitter could issue their own Web3 domains, such as matt.twitter.crypto as a verifiable identity linked to your Twitter profile, removing the need for paid verification options. The platform could operate an identity verification process when joining the platform, but it would put control back in the hands of people and businesses who choose what data to share.
In this way, Web3 logins offer a clear choice – you own the data attached to your Web3 domain and you choose whether to share it with an application. By adopting this approach, people and businesses remain in control, while applications like Twitter are able to quickly and efficiently verify who their users are. This differs markedly from the existing login and identity solutions offered by big tech, as Web3 domains are owned entirely by the people who create them.
For Twitter, the benefits of Web3 domains are clear. They allow the application to verify that a person or business is genuine across applications. This solves the problem of bots being used to impersonate others in order to scam unsuspecting victims. It also allows advertisers to identify whether their content is being viewed by real people, rather than manipulated by bot traffic.
Crucially though, it does not eliminate the opportunity for those who want to remain anonymous to do so. Instead, it is about empowering those who want to prove their digital identity is linked to their real-world one, so as to ensure no one else can impersonate them.
The internet reimagined
Self-sovereign digital identities, such as those created through Web3 domains, have the potential to re-architect the internet and remove many of the traps that rob people of their autonomy, their data and their money.
Eliminating bot accounts on Twitter is a topical taster of their potential. What really matters is the full menu of equity, privacy and empowerment opportunities that Web3 domains make possible.