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Pseudonymous Web

Last updated February 15, 2022

“Despite my suburban liberal upbringing in Canada, on VRChat, I have listened to people who want gun rights, who refuse vaccination, and who reject taxation. My worldview has become more open to every strand of human experience.” On Life in the Metaverse

Source: The Future of Social Media is Pseudonymous by Kyle Qian

An identity-based social graph is fundamentally limited. Your Facebook identity and social graph are mere digital shadows of their physical counterparts, and little more.

By attaching our real-world identities to everything we do, these platforms feel suffocating and unsafe. Is there any way we can construct fully virtual worlds not tethered to reality? I’m not sure we can.

“In real life and on Facebook, you’re always signaling information about yourself which may not have anything to do with the context you’re in.” -> context-collapse

In this sense, Facebook’s social graph is a crutch that imitates real-world relationships. Platforms which 1) require or encourage using your real identity or 2) rely on existing social graphs (contacts, classmates, mutuals) merely imitate “being there.” By mirroring the real world, platforms like Facebook are ultimately limited by the very physical connections they seek to transcend.

Together, these platforms form digitally native social graphs based on what people choose to emphasize about themselves, rather than on legal identity or physical proximity. These social graphs are difficult to create on identity-based platforms, as well as in real life, and are the result of meaningful connections between people who otherwise would never have met.

# Decentralized Identities

Source: How Identity Emerges in Crypto Networks by Graeme

Is it possible to have pseudonymous identities in decentralized web3 systems? Or does it rely purely on natural human recognition of user handles? What about wallet addresses?

Web3 promises participants ‘persistant pseudonyms’ that have protective functions (e.g. not revealing offline identities, but also allows holders to participate in economic activity and hold goods while allowing them to hide undesirable traits that may lead to oppression)

We can then use on-chain transactions to hypothesize and analyze possible affiiliations and cultural attitudes. For example, owning an NFT whose profits will go towards a charity may signal values similar to that charity/cause.

Can we use these web3 packed pseudonymous identities as a tool for social liberation?

Interactive Graph