Web 2.0 refers to World Wide Web websites that emphasize user-generated content, usability (ease of use, even by non-experts), and interoperability (this means that a website can work well with other products, systems, and devices) for end users.
Web 2.0 is used by companies, non-profit organizations and governments for interactive marketing. A growing number of marketers are using Web 2.0 tools to collaborate with consumers on product development, customer service enhancement, product or service improvement and promotion. Companies can use Web 2.0 tools to improve collaboration with both its business partners and consumers. Among other things, company employees have created wikis—Web sites that allow users to add, delete, and edit content — to list answers to frequently asked questions about each product, and consumers have added significant contributions. Another marketing Web 2.0 lure is to make sure consumers can use the online community to network among themselves on topics of their own choosing. Mainstream media usage of Web 2.0 is increasing. Saturating media hubs—like The New York Times, PC Magazine and Business Week — with links to popular new Web sites and services, is critical to achieving the threshold for mass adoption of those services. User web content can be used to gauge consumer satisfaction. In a recent article for Bank Technology News, Shane Kite describes how Citigroup's Global Transaction Services unit monitors social media outlets to address customer issues and improve products. According to Google Timeline, the term Web 2.0 was discussed and indexed most frequently in 2005, 2007 and 2008. Its average use is continuously declining by 2–4% per quarter since April 2008.
Other critics labeled Web 2.0 "a second bubble" (referring to the Dot-com bubble of 1997–2000), suggesting that too many Web 2.0 companies attempt to develop the same product with a lack of business models. For example, The Economist has dubbed the mid- to late-2000s focus on Web companies as "Bubble 2.0".
In terms of Web 2.0's social impact, critics such as Andrew Keen argue that Web 2.0 has created a cult of digital narcissism and amateurism, which undermines the notion of expertise by allowing anybody, anywhere to share and place undue value upon their own opinions about any subject and post any kind of content, regardless of their actual talent, knowledge, credentials, biases or possible hidden agendas. Keen's 2007 book, Cult of the Amateur, argues that the core assumption of Web 2.0, that all opinions and user-generated content are equally valuable and relevant, is misguided. Additionally, Sunday Times reviewer John Flintoff has characterized Web 2.0 as "creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity: uninformed political commentary, unseemly home videos, embarrassingly amateurish music, unreadable poems, essays and novels... [and that Wikipedia is full of] mistakes, half truths and misunderstandings". In a 1994 Wired interview, Steve Jobs, forecasting the future development of the web for personal publishing, said "The Web is great because that person can't foist anything on you – you have to go get it. They can make themselves available, but if nobody wants to look at their site, that's fine. To be honest, most people who have something to say get published now."
There is also a growing body of critique of Web 2.0 from the perspective of political economy. Since, as Tim O'Reilly and John Batelle put it, Web 2.0 is based on the "customers... building your business for you," critics have argued that sites such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are exploiting the "free labor" of user-created content. Web 2.0 sites use Terms of Service agreements to claim perpetual licenses to user-generated content, and they use that content to create profiles of users to sell to marketers. This is part of increased surveillance of user activity happening within Web 2.0 sites. Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet and Society argues that such data can be used by governments who want to monitor dissident citizens.
Others have noted that Web 2.0 technologies are tied to particular political ideologies. "Web 2.0 discourse is a conduit for the materialization of neoliberal ideology." The technologies of Web 2.0 may also "function as a disciplining technology within the framework of a neoliberal political economy."