How will the metaverse and web3 influence social media?

September 8, 2022

In the long run, social media as we know it might not only come to fragment, but radically evolve as it becomes integrated in today’s tech trends such as web3 and the metaverse. Meta has positioned itself as the spearhead of this revolution and its strategy to move from 2D to 3D is as risky as it is ambitious. Last month, the tech giant reported it lost $2.8 billion on its metaverse project, while everyone made fun of Zuckerberg’s avatar. Meta may have popularized “Metaverse” as a concept, but the race to embed social media in new technologies is not limited to Meta as a contender. Some companies, like new startups Niche and DSCVR, are building social platforms on blockchain technology to let users monetize communities themselves. By the end of this decade, the 2D newsfeeds gracing our screens might have become internet history.

Nevertheless, it remains uncertain whether social media users will be as eager to adopt the metaverse and web3—and if so, when they will do so. Furthermore, the adoption will likely look different across the world. While the Western world may be reluctant, one of the most digitalized societies in the world, South Korea, will be more inclined to embrace the metaverse. Our preoccupation with making fun of Zuckerberg’s attempts in the West is creating a blind spot for Southeast Asia. Perhaps more growth can be expected there as these countries are both culturally and economically willing to take the lead in building the Metaverse.

Burning questions:
  • How will existing business models change if users are encouraged to monetize their own communities with blockchain technology?
  • Although the Zuckerberg avatar made everybody laugh, we do not have any clue how the aesthetics of the identity layer will eventually turn out. Will we prefer ultra-realistic photo avatars or game-like cartoons?
  • Will the future Metaverse truly increase social interaction or eventually lead to new forms of social media “voyeurism”?

About the author(s)

Economist and philosopher Sebastiaan Crul writes articles on a wide range of topics, including rule of law in digital societies, the virtualization of the lifeworld and internet culture. He is currently working on his doctoral degree on the influence of digitalization on mental health and virtue ethics, having previously published dissertations on the philosophy of play and systemic risks in the finance industry.

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