Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin thinks that blockchain could be the next big thing in censorship-free communications.
The events in the American Capitol have resulted in a mass exodus of Facebook and Twitter users as a result of their decision to ban President trump and several “fringe” groups.
Most Twitter exiles looked at Parler as the best platform to move to due to its approach to free speech and anti-censorship.
Ethereum Founder Sees Blockchain as Solution
However, companies like Amazon Web Services immediately cracked their own on the site for what they claimed was an inability to effectively moderate its platform.
This forced Parler to take down its service, preventing thousands of users from using the social media platform and drawing criticism from free speech advocates around the globe.
One of such speakers is Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, who expressed his ideas on the dangers of censorship publicly.
These concerns have been shared by multiple activists who believe that these private company’s abilities could become a bigger problem in the long term, even when recognizing the difficulties they experience when moderating content in their platforms.
Buterin commented that,
“the fact that so many people who would normally never support such corporate power are now cheering tech CEOs running roughshod over democratically elected officials deserves some introspection”.
The Start of a Digital Exodus
If recent events have proven something is that no centralized platform can remain neutral to the political and social context, which is exactly what prevents the creation of a trustless system when it relies on a central authority.
Hudson Jameson, also a co-founder of Ethereum, said in an interview with Decrypt that these recent events “absolutely heightens the need for decentralized, censorship-resistant systems”.
While these decentralized social media platforms already exist, attracting new users has proven to be difficult in an ecosystem ruled by a few players.
In fact, companies like Facebook have been under scrutiny during the last month as the US Government launched an antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant.
But not only the government is starting to consider the negative impact big tech could have in the future of society, but also users around the world who have started looking for alternatives to traditional applications like WhatsApp in recent days.
An Opportunity for Blockchain Social Media Platforms
These growing concerns around privacy and the monopolization of social platforms may be the fertile soil blockchain platforms have been waiting for, allowing them to capture some of the users who decided to leave their previous platforms as a result of recent events.
Mr. Buterin referred to the role blockchain technology could plate in the creation of a global communication medium by tweeting:
7. The attempts at bringing down Parler are very worrying. Apple, Google, AWS are much more like "common infrastructure providers" than a social media site is. Parler has a right to exist, full stop.
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) January 12, 2021
The decentralized nature of blockchain networks such as Ethereum would not allow for a single entity or individual to silence speech from any side of the political specter, as this would be nearly impossible and against the ideals of the network.
This, however, creates a thin line on how hate speech or illegal activities could be moderated, but it would be over to the decentralized governance and community, in general, to reach such decisions and mechanism without having to deal with the pressure a private company can experience.
New Need for Open Communication
It is clear that large tech companies are shifting gears. No longer content to allow divergent views on developed platforms, a new era in social media development appears to be here.
While this movement away from established platforms is very new, the magnitude of the purge by existing platforms will spur the development of systems that have far more openness, even if that comes with the risk of unpopular ideas being protected (free speech laws have always done this, by the way…).
In a world where ideas are becoming totally unacceptable, people are losing their ability to talk about a number of topics, many of which are important to the public discourse. It is likely that decentralization has found a new area to grow into.