I Don't Want To Be On Your Uncensored Social Media

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Avatar for dave_gutteridge
2 years ago

Just as his presidency was drawing to a close, Donald Trump was banned from Twitter. This moment added fuel to a frequent discussion among many BCH supporters about building "censorship resistant" social media platforms. The discussion had nothing to do with Trump's politics, which I'm not going to talk about here. People in the BCH community generally seem to lean toward the idea that no one should have their voice muted, regardless of whether or not anyone agrees or disagrees with the content of what's being said.

Many Bitcoin Cash supporters, want to use the BCH blockchain to create clones of Twitter or Reddit where every post is permanently stored and unalterable. The idea being that once something is said, no one can take it down again. No one's voice can be muted.

It's an issue of particular importance among the BCH community because most of them feel that BCH adoption is artificially suppressed by BTC supporters actively blocking open discussion in major community forums, such as r/bitcoin. And I would generally agree that BTC would not have the market share it currently enjoys were it not for the aggressive tactics by BTC supporters to shape how people see Bitcoin.

There's a whole discussion to be had about what exactly "censorship" is, because I am not sure that Twitter banning Trump is genuine censorship. As a private business trying to foster the community that brings in the most advertising revenue, Twitter kicking Trump out isn't much different from a restaurant kicking out a customer that is bothering other customers.

That's where I stand, just so you know my particular biases. But I'm not going to go down the semantic well of trying to build consensus on what censorship really, really, really is, because it's kind of a distraction from the issue I want to look at, which is whether or not building a blockchain based "censorship resistant" form of social networking service would achieve the goals people have for it.

The idea, as I understand it, is that by writing every post, every "tweet", to a blockchain, no one, can remove it. Most importantly, not even the people who built the interface that allows you to make those posts could reverse them. The blockchain is outside of anyone's control.

Memo.cash is an example of such a service. Memo.cash is essentially just an interface, or a gateway, for storing data on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain. Even if Memo.cash as an organization or service were to go down, the "tweets" they helped you place on the blockchain will continue to exist, forever.

Which sounds unappealing to me. I'm somewhat glad that services like Facebook and Instagram and others became a part of daily life some time after I had grown up enough to have a sense of identity and how to present myself. There are a lot of things best left private that I might very well have made public when I was a dumb teenager. I wouldn't have wanted them preserved even as quasi-permanent as posting them to Facebook would have been.

Even as an adult, I've sometimes changed my mind about how I want my persona to come across on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere, and I've removed past posts. Sure, those posts might still exist deep down in some backup drive somewhere. But they're buried enough that they won't come up in a search, and that's good enough for me.

There are also cases where people have perfectly good reasons to want data removed, or limited. For instance, what if someone is accused of rape, and is later exonerated? Right now it's unlikely someone could get that initial connection between their name and a rape allegation completely wiped from Google. But, in principle, it seems like a good thing that they could potentially turn to an entity like Google, or Twitter, or Facebook, and have mention of the wrongful accusation scrubbed so that it's not the default that the allegation is the first thing that comes up in a search.

This is exacerbated by the fact that it happens all the time in the world of media that people run wild with half baked perceptions of some event or statement, potentially causing someone social ruin. A person is accused of of something, and by the time the truth comes out, the fact checked reality is barely reported, and the world has moved on. There are a thousand search hits that lead to the wrong information for each truthful search hit. Just because the truth is there for all to see doesn't mean people will find it.

I think the people who want to believe that in a BCH based social network believe that the mere existence of the factual post will undo the damage of the lie. But I don't see any evidence of that, because you can already see this kind of situation in action. There are sites that save and preserve every post made to Reddit, so that people can see what posts might have been removed by moderators, but that doesn't seem to have done much to sway the control moderators have over their communities on Reddit.

Also, just because no one has control over a blockchain, that doesn't mean that people can't edit how they retrieve information from it. Memo.cash might choose to simply show every post stored on the blockchain. But someone else can come along and build an interface that filters out objectionable content, like racism and child pornography.

Or at least, that's what they claim. Whether or not they're removing other content to shape a specific message about other topics is just a matter of tweaking algorithms.

If that second site becomes more popular for whatever reason, and reasons for sites becoming popular are finicky and beyond anyone's control, then you're back to square one. You've got people screaming that the truth is being shown over on one website than no one looks at, while everyone is over at the more popular site, doing whatever it is they're doing.

There is nothing about a blockchain based social media system that is going to solve problems of censorship, perception, and open dialogue just by virtue of it's immutable preservation of data.

Maybe more importantly, I don't even think it's really that appealing as a sales point to tell people that nothing you can post can ever be deleted. It's the kind of constraint we want for everyone else, but not for ourselves.

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+ 1
Avatar for dave_gutteridge
2 years ago


I think you are wrong. Being a private water company for example, does not means that you can, close down the water supply of someone because he is insert whatever reason.

Freedom of speech is just as a basic human right as accessing water, air, education, transportation, and so on. Corporations like twitter, facebook, google abused people. These corporations are not just bad platforms, they are a threat for the national security. And now it seems the time is coming for them, to pay for this stupidity.

Platforms like memo.cash ARE the solution. Its certainly making more problems (any sort of illegal activity is permanent, not deleteable) than what it solves. But what it is intended to solve, it solves it once and for all.

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2 years ago

I totally agree with you that services like water, education, transportation, and more, should be universally guaranteed to all in any well functioning society. I also agree that everyone should have a right to freedom of speech.

However, freedom of speech does not equal having the right to insist anyone transmit your message further than you can achieve on your own. I can not insist you tell all your friends what I told you.

In any case, the philosophical boundaries of freedom of speech is a big topic, and not really what this article is about. This article only addresses that blockchain technology does not create a more transparent and truthful world because of its inherent trait of permanent data storage.

I think the goal of reducing censorship is good. I just don't think blockchain technology will achieve it.

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2 years ago

No one appreciates the new users of this platform. We are lying forlorn and everyone is awarding those who are already full of credits. Let's be a good family. Stay happy. Visit me please.

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2 years ago

I agree 100%.

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2 years ago