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Facebook's Missteps Should Be a Lesson for Web3


A pair of feet faces directional arrows on the ground, representing choices.

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In 2011, the company then known as Facebook launched Open Graph to allow users to carry their Facebook identities from app to app, thereby enabling developers to give them a personalized experience wherever they went. In that way, the goals of Open Graph and Web3 are shockingly similar. Both Open Graph and the decentralized web aim to enable portable identity across digital ecosystems, including data, assets, and relationships. Even the idea of personal data sovereignty that is so central to the crypto world was baked into the Open Graph vision.

Despite its high-minded aspirations, and for a handful of reasons, Open Graph did not work. Some of those reasons could have been anticipated while others were more subtle, but none had to do with the fact that Facebook was a centralized entity. That is not to say that the difference between a single company providing this cross-platform service versus a decentralized, blockchain-based approach is not consequential—just that it is not determinative on its own. The technologists building Web3 can still learn a lot from Open Graph's problems.

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