Remember the birth and subsequent explosion of Facebook Connect, and how prevalent it became with countless websites offering it as a quick & easy alternative to logging in and creating an account with them? Today it's Twitter and Google that are often the primary options laid before us if we'd rather not create a new username and password for every third-party platform we use.
And yet with this convenience comes a price. It's the entanglement of our online presence and subsequent data that is then forever associated with our social connection of choice. It's the level of trust we must have that this data won't be mishandled, or used for their own gains. And should the social account be compromised, hacked, or simply deleted/deactivated, it's the painful, laborious process of trying to disassociate it from all your connected sites one by one.
It's only when you have to embark on such a process that you realize just how grand a reach, how tight a grip, and a monopoly on cross-connectivity these "household" media corporations have. Leaving a platform like Twitter can be like trying to evict a shitty housemate who's befriended the rest of the flat.
In the case of my experience with Web3 platforms relying on Web2 socials for identity verification, it's their later disassociation that has proven to be impossible for at least two leading NFT marketplaces. Which I find highly troubling and a real detriment to an artist's brand and perceived security.
Let Me Explain Why...
In many corners of our lives, strong relationships are built on trust, and on honesty. This cannot be more true for web 3 and blockchain. With all the scams and rug pulls, Ponzi schemes, and crashes, people are more hesitant than ever when it comes to investing in a project or an artist. They will look for any sign that the person or team behind it is verified, authentic, and trustworthy. A tick, a checkmark.. a signal.
However almost all of the options available to verify your web3 / NFT accounts, from Foundation and Knownorigin to Opensea, Rarible, and even Objkt are web2, the usual candidates being Instagram & Twitter. Don't have these? Then you ain't verified, and don't get a nice little tick to say "I is legit". For all that Blockchain technology claims to be advanced, decentralized, dynamic, and the next step in the evolution of the internet, its systems still depend greatly on older centralized web2 social protocols for proof of identity.
Which becomes an issue when you decide you've had enough of web2. Social Media is as social as Reality TV is real.
Last year I gave up on Instagram as a shallow and vacuous experience, and in November I left Twitter. As I've written before, I was fed up with the platform and found the time invested in it from a marketing and artist perspective was not providing the relevant return, and also exposed its users to meaningless, clickbaity, and reactionary "doom news". I decided there had to be better alternatives for both productivity and state of mind and went off to explore. I found Post. I found Warpcast, a flourishing web 3 social platform built on the Farcaster ecosystem. I joined Tumblr. The change in my mental well-being and general online experience was a resoundingly positive one. However, I still had to cleanse all of my connected verifications. Which in the case of Opensea and Rarible is still ongoing and nowhere fast.
If you visit my old, deleted Instagram account, it simply says...
Which is what I would expect. A simple, concise response. However, if you visit my deleted Twitter account, you'll see...
Not good. It's hardly ideal as it suggests that the account was compromised, or something nefarious or possibly offensive was afoot. Not so the case, but despite following the correct channels to deactivate the account and leaving it to expire, Twitter allows old inactive usernames to be chosen by new members once available again. So this "suspension" can also be the result of impersonation by a new user, or something they have done that Twitter felt violated their TOS.
In any case, it's a primary reason to no longer have the account associated with my platforms and profiles elsewhere. I don't want to redirect someone to a profile that's no longer my own.
But what has this meant?
By no longer having a Twitter account, whilst my work is as freely accessible as before, I no longer have a "verified" profile on Foundation. I'm not "verified" on KnownOrigin anymore. Even with Objkt, many new collectors will trust an artist's profile less without a connected Twitter profile or social account, even if Tz Profiles allows Discord and Websites as proof of identity.
But what's more frustrating is that there does not seem to be ANY way to disassociate Twitter or Instagram from Opensea or Rarible, arguably two of, if not THE biggest NFT marketplaces. And in my efforts to reach out to both platforms, Rarible has flat-out told me its impossible to remove Twitter once connected (my only option would be to replace it with another Twitter account handle!), whilst Opensea's support staff claim their engineers are still quote-unquote "looking into this". Meanwhile, both are sending me emails asking to rate how successful their customer support was. Hmm.
In the case of Opensea, if you visit my profile you will see that both social sites are still publicly shown as links, even after I have desperately tried to disconnect them.
In the case of Rarible, with there being no clear alternative and a potential risk that people could be redirected to an active social account no longer owned by myself, I took the decision to ask them to delete my Rarible account. (I never really used it anyway if I'm honest). The result?
RESTRICTED. Not deleted, restricted. Oh that just looks DANDY, doesn't it?
FML. Still, worth it tho...
There HAS to be a better alternative for web3 if the blockchain is to thrive and evolve. Sites like NF.TD (where you mint your all-in-one profile on the blockchain) and ETH.CO & Butiq.art are doing their part to push things forward with pretty seamless execution, but more needs to be done, either through like likes of ens, wallet connections, or a similar universal web3 protocol.
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Dan | Digitalgyoza
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