When Daveed Benjamin co-founded The Overweb with Joshua Armah, he knew that his clients needed an added layer of protection and support that most web browsers, at the time, couldn’t provide.
“At the time that we first came up with The Overweb, we only had computer-based sites to work with,” he told AfroTech. “Now, of course, with more and more people using mobile web services — sometimes, almost exclusively — we realize that we needed to add different types of services, too. But our commitment to protection remains unchanged.”
The Internet as we know it is facing a critical challenge, with “fake news” being one of the most debated socio-political topics of recent years (thanks, Trump). According to one study, there’s a 52% perceived frequency of online news websites reporting “fake news” stories in the United States, and 96% of U.S. adults say they distrust what they read on social media.
But that’s where The Overweb comes in. It leverages collaborative annotation: a process where users are able to create connections between ideas online in the form of added commentary and information, such as adding a link to supporting or contradictory information. And its proprietary browser overlay allows users the ability to annotate and see others’ annotations wherever they are on the web.
Consider the program, says Benjamin, as a real-time Wikipedia of sorts: it provides an additional layer on the web that supports annotations and allows users to layer knowledge on top of web pages. Powered by the Overchain blockchain network that aims to bring back real people and real information on the web, The Overweb is an open-source application that protects both the user and the contributor.
And, says Benjamin, it creates a platform of trust — a hyperdimensional webspace, if you prefer — which can be used by both companies and private individuals.
“Best of all,” he said, “you can take comfort in knowing that all the people who use us are 100% real people. We don’t allow people to register with “throwaway” accounts — we use genuine biometric identifiers to make sure the people who use us are real people, not bots and not people hiding behind fake accounts.”
And those who share their genuine information with The Overweb not only don’t have to worry about whether their information will be sold or not (don’t worry, it won’t) — but they also get rewarded for their efforts. The company’s website makes clear that by providing biometric data, NFT (non-fungible token) data, and even just basic information, users can receive “bounties” for their efforts.
So, you might say that they’re incentivizing people to participate in the web more ethically and responsibly, while also taking the extra step of combating “fake news” (and fake websites) on the web.
“Ultimately, we are building a trust layer over webpages, enabling people to have layers of knowledge and interactions on them,” he said. “And that’s a way to ensure a level of safety we’d never been able to ensure before.”
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.