A war rips off the fig leaf for Web 3 and NFTs

On February 24, the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine officially broke out. In the past week, in addition to the military and financial pressures in the real world, Russia has also faced “artillery fire” from the Internet world.

Meta and Google, which used to see each other as enemies, suddenly moved in tandem, announcing a ban on Russian state media from advertising on their platforms.

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It is reported on the Internet that Moscow is inconvenient to travel due to the suspension of Apple Pay. However, some Russian netizens say that this is just a daily routine in Moscow’s morning rush hour.

Apple Pay and Google Pay online payment services have been announced to be suspended in Russia in an attempt to discourage Russians from going to work.

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EA, which thinks it can’t sit back and watch the situation, also followed the pace of FIFA’s removal of Russia, removing the Russian national team and all Russian clubs from FIFA series games including FIFA 22 and FIFA Online.

Will the imposition of sanctions on most innocent people have a real impact on the outcome of the war? No one knows the answer, but in the Web 2 world where data lives and dies, it is justifiable to hold data by the throat.

It stands to reason that the decentralized Web 3 should be more secure than the Web 2 world at this time to ensure user data security, but judging from the recent sanctions announcement by the virtual trading market Dmarket, everything will only get worse.

This is a robbery

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Perhaps worried that Russia will use cryptocurrencies to circumvent financial sanctions, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digitalization Mykhailo tweeted on Twitter, calling on major cryptocurrency exchanges to block accounts of Russian users.

Mykhailo’s “request” was not supported by major exchanges including Binance, Coinbase , and others.

 

In an interview with CNBC, a Binance spokesperson said they would freeze the accounts of sanctioned Russian individuals, but would not unilaterally block the accounts of millions of innocent users.

It would be a blatant challenge to the meaning of encryption if it unilaterally banned people from accessing their crypto databases.

However, Dmarket, which was born in Ukraine, does not think so.

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Shortly after Mykhailo’s distress call was sent, Dmarket quickly posted an announcement on Twitter that it would freeze Crypto assets from users in Russia and Belarus, suspend new user registrations in those regions, and remove Russian rubles from the platform.

This means that some Russian users’ expensive boring ape NFT will become a JPG picture that temporarily loses its transaction value, like a sunk pirate treasure, sealed in an invisible Crypto cage.

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Mykhailo was quick to praise Dmarket’s move on Twitter, saying the funds would likely be used for military spending, which Mykhailo described as “a modern-day Rubin Hood.”

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However, this tweet has received criticism and accusations from a large number of netizens. Many netizens believe that the funds frozen by Dmarket are stolen from many innocent people who are unable to participate in politics, which is a blatant violation of the decentralized spirit of Web 3.

Soon Dmarket issued a new announcement to clarify that all assets and skins of the frozen account will still be retained, and Dmarket will not harm anyone’s property.

Still, this hasn’t reversed the anger and disappointment with Dmarket.

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Dmarket mainly provides game accessories trading and NFT trading services. At present, a total of more than 10 million transactions have been completed. In terms of volume, Dmarket is not a particularly large trading platform.

But the actions of Dmarket have reminded the followers of Web 3 who are longing for decentralization – the virtual assets that you can hold forever, really belong to you?

Decentralization, or just hiding centralization?

Moxie Marlinspike, founder of crypto messaging app Signal, believes that despite the development of encryption technology over the past decade, the so-called Web 3 is still in its early stages and cannot save people from centralized platforms now.

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In Moxie’s view, the centralized platforms we live on today came about because people don’t want to pay for their own servers, and an end-to-end protocol runs much slower than a platform.

Will Web 3 change the status quo? Moxie found that Web 3, which is committed to decentralization, has not gotten rid of its reliance on servers.

Although the blockchain is designed to be a peer-to-peer network, this does not mean that every device participating in Web 3 is one of the nodes. The operation of Web 3 still needs to be built between billions of clients and servers. Instead, There may be a crisis of centralization.

In order to prove its point, Moxie has made an NFT project. Different from the traditional impression of “NFT is a picture/video/audio”, Moxie’s NFT will display different patterns according to your different platforms.

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For example, on platform A, it is an analog clock, but on platform B, it is a ripple, and when viewed in the crypto wallet, it is actually a “poo” emoji.

Although the three pictures are different, they are indeed the same NFT, because the NFT is actually just a URL that points to the data. It does not store data on the blockchain itself. As long as the data pointing to the server can be adjusted, the NFT can display anything.

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It sounds like NFT is actually not safe, but Moxie has no intention of discussing security issues. He found a more interesting phenomenon-one of the trading platforms he uploaded, OpenSea , deleted this NFT a few days later, and then this NFT was disappeared from his crypto wallet MetaMask, which was supposed to be separate from each other.

In the decentralized world envisaged by Web 3, unlike game equipment that can be arbitrarily deleted by game companies, virtual objects such as NFTs cast on the blockchain should be indelible, just like deregistering a car at the DMV. License plate, the car is still real.

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The reason why Moxie’s NFT disappeared from the crypto wallet MetaMask is actually because MetaMask is not directly associated with the blockchain, but indirectly displays data by calling API interfaces of different companies.

Since MetaMask’s NFT display calls OpenSea’s API interface, when this NFT is deleted by OpenSea, it will naturally “disappear” on MetaMask, even if it is recorded on the blockchain.

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Therefore, Moxie believes that there are still many traps in front of Web 3 technology. If you are not careful, you will fall into the centralized framework and become “Web 2 × 2” – just a Web 2 that pays more attention to privacy, and still cannot get rid of the centralized framework. ending.

In this regard, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has a different view.

Vitalik said that in the early days of Web 3 development, in order to allow more people to accept encryption technology, people will inevitably adopt some centralized construction methods to carry out projects.

But there are already many advanced authenticated encryption technologies out there, and a world of decentralized blockchains that can be properly authenticated will soon arrive, so there should be confidence in the future of Web 3.

But for now, this “future” is still far away.

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The craze for the metaverse exploded markets like NFTs last year, and the rush of investors overshadowed a potential crisis for Web 3. The outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is the catalyst for Dmarket to turn to centralization. When the next “catalyst” emerges, who can guarantee that platforms such as OpenSea will not follow the example of Dmarket?

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