Last month, an anonymous Q&A app called NGL topped the free download list in the United States in less than a week, and then NGL has been on the APP download list in North America, South Asia, Europe, Latin America and other regions and countries. Top of the list, the popularity swept the world.
However, the good times did not last long. The popularity of NGL only lasted for a month, and then quickly fell from the top of the list by more than 200. Anonymous social networking has reappeared in people’s field of vision. Is this a flash in the pan or another spring for anonymous social networking?
Data source: NGL’s ranking trend of the US Apple Store free list in the past two months
What kind of social app is NGL?
NGL is an anonymous Q&A app powered by Instagram.
From the appearance of the product, NGL mainly uses the main color of Ins pink and orange to emphasize the attachment relationship with Instagram. Relying on Ins is also one of the key factors for traffic acquisition through Ins-based platform design. The functional design of NGL products is also very simple. Currently, there are only two first-level menus, “Play” and “Inbox”. Users can ask questions on Ins through the Play menu, and can view the questions asked through the Inbox menu. The platform system is set with a random question bank, and the preset questions are more inclined to young users. The questioner can customize the question, or select the question that interests him from the random question bank to ask.
Although NGL’s product functions and design styles have certain characteristics, it is not easy to break out of the crowded social arena. In addition to the advantages of being attached to Instagram, NGL also captures the general need for anonymity in the Internet age.
In recent years, people’s strong appeal for online social networking has led to the frequent emergence of various social media platforms. The pan-socialized ecology spawned by this phenomenon has caused some users to transfer to anonymous social networking based on weak ties.
The origin and development of anonymous social software
The explosion of anonymous social software is not accidental. The earliest anonymous social software can be traced back to 2012.
As early as 2012, Michael Hayward and Brad Bruce jointly developed an anonymous social software called Whisper in Los Angeles, USA. This is a mobile phone application that uses an anonymous method to tell the heart in the form of postcards, trying to build a safe and private online space, allowing users to communicate with the world with their true self, and connect with resonating strangers. In 2014, the mobile application software Secret enabled users to anonymously share information with friends and acquaintances. In mid-2014, Secret had 15 million users and became one of the mainstream anonymous social software.
The successful development of Secret once led the global trend of anonymous social software, and soon in the Chinese market it also spawned many testers of the same anonymous model, including the previous Secret, Anonymous and Beep. There are also many popular ones, such as the anonymous question Tape question box that is very similar to NGL. With this platform, users can create a personal question box link and share it on social platforms, and friends can ask questions anonymously. Tape question box has set off a screen-swiping upsurge on mainstream social platforms such as WeChat and QQ, and has become one of the daily social activities of young people.
Another popular anonymous social software in China is Soul, which was established in 2016. Soul is a product design based on interest graphs and gamified gameplay, and belongs to a virtual social network for a new generation of young people. In Soul, users can express themselves without worries, get to know others, exchange interests and opinions, and get high-quality social connections.
The fundamental problem of the unsustainable involution development of the Web2 Internet platform
From Secret to Tape to now NGL, anonymous social networking seems to usher in a bright moment every once in a while, but in most cases, when the heat dissipates, it is short-lived, which is related to the limitations of Web2 development. The in-roll development of the Web2 Internet platform is becoming more and more difficult to continue, mainly because the following three fundamental problems cannot be solved.
- As one of the most important production factors of the digital economy, if data does not belong to the producers and lacks a clear and definite property rights mechanism, it is actually difficult to fully exert the functions of its production factors.
- The Internet not only monopolizes business scenarios, but also monopolizes information, logic and value. Most users do not have the ability to think independently and are trapped in the information cocoon.
- The Internet is not interconnected, and there is a tendency to be even more disconnected. Every digital platform constitutes a relatively fragmented ecology.
When we log in to most social platforms, the most relevant information that we need to submit to the personal interests of users has been collected by the platform. Before using the platform, it is usually required to sign a user agreement, and the operator obtains the user’s personal information, photo album information, mobile phone contact information, geographic location information and other sensitive or important information. What’s more, the platform shares the collected personal information with third parties, increasing the privacy and security risks of users. On June 4, 2018, The New York Times said that in the past decade, at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung, have entered into agreements with Facebook to obtain users’ private information.
Taking NGL as an example, NGL’s current charging model is to pay $9.99 per week to activate the perspective mirror function. Paying users will see the other party’s prompt information than ordinary users, and formulate membership rights according to different labels. It is obvious that NGL’s profit model is taking advantage of users’ privacy for profit. Although the official promises to only send some general reminders to member users to keep the anonymous parties in a mutually hazy state, when users recognize each other through information, or users receive a lot of reminder information but cannot achieve recognition When the purpose of the other party is deceived, the subscription model will be abandoned by the user.
The business model based on the utilization of user data and privacy is a routine operation in the Web2 era. The Internet platform monopolizes the data belonging to users, and the misallocation of productivity and production factors is also the main bottleneck in the development of the Web2 platform. Breaking through the bottleneck of Web2, how to give full play to the value of data, and returning the ownership of data to users are also a major driving force for the development of Web3.
Technological Support and Paradigm Shift to Unleash Productivity in the Web3 Era
Technical Support: Transfer of Ownership and Value of User Data
In the era of Web 3.0, users will protect the privacy of personal data in a more thorough way, which will lead to the transfer of data ownership and value. By introducing privacy computing, the use of homomorphic encryption, multi-party secure computing, trusted execution environment and other technologies to ensure the anonymity of data in the process of use. The user will have absolute control over the data, and the user will have the right to decide how to process the data, ensure the attribution of the data and prevent the platform from unauthorized operations on the data.
For example, in the Web3 era, users will use wallets to master multiple digital identities, participate in the Web3 network ecosystem to interact through blockchain technology, and achieve anonymous social functions. The digital identity will become the user identity, which is truly owned and mastered by the user, and is also called a decentralized identity DID. As a collection of user identities, DID is completely in the hands of users, and is not completely controlled by any institution. The authentication of user identity by any institution is only one element in the set. The user sends each application information to his own identity authentication information, which is stored on the blockchain address completely controlled by the user. This blockchain address is often the user’s wallet address. The login of each application on Web3 through the wallet is similar to that of Web2.0 user login. The difference is that the DID is owned and controlled by the user, while the Web2 user login account is restricted by the platform.
Organizational paradigm shift: from separating platforms and users to relying on DAO-based co-construction and co-governance organizations
In the Web3.0 era, content and applications will be created and dominated by users, fully realizing the co-construction and co-governance of users based on Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), and users will share the value of the platform (protocol). Human resources are no longer made by the company as the main coordination mechanism, but operate in the form of DAO through smart contracts.
DAO revolves around the organization of individuals, releases individual creativity, and rewards content community contributors more fairly. As a new organizational form of content platforms, DAO’s primary advantage is a flat and fair structure, which delegates decision-making power to content creators and content consumers, and acts as a digital publishing agency that provides transparency and scale. It is spawning a new creator economy and bringing together artists, lawyers, developers and creators around the world to create and monetize ideas in a crypto-economic system built on blockchain and Web3 technologies .
Business Model: Creator Economy Built on Distributed Storage
The creator economy will be built on distributed storage. At the creator’s economic layer, NFT represents the author’s ownership of their creative content, and truly returns the rights to the creator. The creator economy forms a closed loop mainly in four ways:
- Introduce digital scarcity and restore the pricing and trading power of the creator market;
- It supports the creator’s creation as an investment behavior, not just an altruistic behavior; supports the reader’s reading as a behavioral consumption behavior;
- is the introduction of a new programmable economic model that spreads wealth across the creator realm;
- By creating a way for creators, creators not only own the content they create, but also become the co-owner of their creation platform.
In the Age of Web3 Voyage, Several Kinds of Web3 Social Attempts Worthy of Attention
The development of the Web 3.0 social platform is still in its early stages, but there are already noteworthy products and community forms in the market.
FaceDAO, a Web3 decentralized social platform built on Ethereum
FaceDAO is built on a decentralized blockchain, all data is unique and immutable, and users will have absolute control over the data. FaceDAO uses face recognition as the login threshold, and uses the private key and DID as the data carrier. It gives value to users’ actions, allows users to receive rewards in the form of tokens from their content, attention and dwell time, incentivizes users to keep posting, likes and comments, etc., and actively maintains the ecological development of the platform. FaceDAO takes decentralized autonomy as its organizational operation mode, allowing users to participate in platform governance decisions.
FaceDAO has already had more than 500,000 real community members in less than three months since its establishment. According to official data, the top three countries with the largest number of FaceDAO users are Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India, accounting for 80% of the platform’s users. At the same time, a large number of people from underdeveloped countries such as Nigeria, Vietnam, and the Philippines are also joining FaceDAO.
Lens Protocol, a decentralized transaction graph protocol built on Polygon
The user social graph data in Lens Protocol is composed of a Profile NFT, which owns all the content created by the user. Users can edit homepage information and set privacy settings. If the holder of Profile NFT is a DAO, users who hold relevant Follower NFTs can also participate in governance. Lens Protocol enables data to be personally controlled and mastered by users, and supports functions such as content publishing, forwarding, commenting, and NFT sales through modular settings.
Atem Network, a Web3 social platform focusing on community chat and transactions
On the Atem Network, users can create, connect and own their own communities through NFTs, as well as chat and trade with their Web3 friends. Atem Network will identify users who hold a certain token or NFT, and then automatically classify them into groups. Users classified into these groups can set up chat channels by themselves. Atem uses the RSA 2048 algorithm to completely encrypt the information in the chat channels. Seamlessly connect social networks and crypto trading without leaving the chat room and trading on another trading platform. Both groups and channels are governed by DAOs and owned by users.
Mirror, a Web3 content platform built on the creator economy
Mirror.xyz is a fast-growing Web3.0 native text creator community. Its slogan is: Build and connect your world on Web3. Mirror provides creators with 6 basic capability tools, including article publishing (Entries), funding-related crowdfunding (Crowdfunds) and cooperative contribution splits (Splits), NFT (Editions) and auctions (Auctions), and governance community voting (Token Race).
- From personal influence radiation to NFT commodities, fundraising, etc., this is the exploration of Web3.0.
- From a fundraising perspective, unlike traditional crowdfunding platforms, Mirror can quickly launch a DAO: supporters earn some kind of virtual token by supporting content on a Mirror, which represents membership in the project community; Mirror also supports the Made as an NFT, a digital native collection can be used to encourage supporters to collect an article.
- From the perspective of content writing: Mirror integrates the decentralized domain name service ENS to realize creator rights. Each author’s blog domain name needs to bind its own ENS domain name, and generate a Mirror subdomain as the home page of the content publishing platform. When registering, the owner needs to destroy an invitation token $WRITE to claim ownership of the domain name.
Imagine Metaverse Social: An Extension of Web3 Social
If Web3 social emphasizes data ownership and decentralized governance model, then the Metaverse will be a future social scene based on Web3 social. In the three-dimensional virtual space constructed by the true Internet, you can experience the infinite scenes in science fiction movies.
The Metaverse is the digital space for human entertainment, social interaction and even work in the future, the main carrier of future lifestyles, and a new digital world that everyone can participate in. In essence, Metaverse is a full-sensory and human-computer interaction full-real Internet system supported by four important elements of blockchain, games, networks, and virtual devices. The Internet at this stage will be three-dimensional, and people will no longer browse the web through the display screen, but shuttle in the Internet universe. The impact of games has satisfied human fantasy, allowing humans to try things that cannot be done in reality, and the Metaverse will further meet and expand this need. The concept of time and space in the real world can be broken in the Metaverse, and every scene that appears in science fiction movies can be reproduced in the Metaverse.
Designing your own digital image is often the first thing people do when they enter the Metaverse. The digital image comprehensively reflects a person’s interests, aesthetics, feelings, dreams and many other psychological factors. It can reflect a person’s ideal self-image more than the actual appearance in the physical world. Projection in the digital world. A digital image is just an external manifestation of a digital identity in the Metaverse. Digital identity is the cornerstone of all digital activities in the Metaverse, and everyone will have a digital identity with universality, independence and privacy.
The explosion of NGL confirms that people have a strong demand for anonymous social networking, but it also proves that the soil of Web2 is difficult to breed towering trees in this field.
Fortunately, Web3 offers a whole new kind of testing ground. Web3 social networking has also not achieved brilliant results in previous experiments, but what if it is Web3 anonymous social networking? Can a new model of integrating digital identities and co-constructing and sharing these magical elements become a breakthrough? We will wait and see.
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“Exploring the Problems of Social Media Application in the Background of Web3.0”
“Research on the Form of Creator Platform in WEB3.0 Era”
“Seeing the Crime and Punishment of Anonymous Social Software Communication Mode from the Closing of Social Networking Site Secret”
“Research on Interactive Behavior in Internet Anonymous Social Software from the Perspective of Interactive Ritual Chain——Taking Tape Question Box as an Example”
“Research on Comprehensive Evaluation of Service Quality of Anonymous Social Platforms Based on FAHP——Taking “Soul App” as an Example
“On User Rights Protection of China Mobile Social Program User Agreement”
“Metaverse” Zhao Guodong et al.
“The Metaverse: Six Trends That Open the Future World” Yu Jianing et al.
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