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“There are few times in history where a piece of technology can materially improve the way of life for a large percentage of the global population — fortunately, blockchain has that chance.” Anthony Pompliano
After several golden decades where the right to freedom of opinion and access to information was accepted as our democratic right, the tables seem to be turning.
It only takes a quick online search to find loads of examples of modern-day censorship, from China to your own home computer under the control of major media corporations. Some of the most common perpetrators are the very social media companies that claim to facilitate the communication of ‘a variety of viewpoints’.
Have you experienced online censorship or financial censorship? Please leave a comment on our social media channels and share your experience.
Most nations have laws guaranteeing some type of freedom of expression and to receive and impart information and ideas (See Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights). And yet, the many exceptions and restrictions imposed on this liberty, as well as the numerous examples of criminal investigation and even prosecution of people who dare to speak their minds, prove that we are dealing with a real and growing threat.
According to the Human Rights Foundation, more than 50% of the world’s population lives under authoritarian regimes. If you live in China, for example, the information you have access to will first have to pass the review of more than a dozen government watchdogs, and any content that contains words and phrases on their ‘blacklist’ will disappear into the abyss. To venture a guess, if you were in China right now you’d probably only have access to our blog through a VPN!
And if Communist China seems a long distance away, don’t make the mistake of assuming that your life in England, Australia or America is free from censorship.
Do you ever use YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Google? If so, the rap sheets of these tech giants mean that information has been withheld from you, whether you realise it or not. You might even have experienced your own account, posts or videos suppressed or shut down for no legitimate reason.
YouTube is known for banning users and removing unedited reporting using alleged “hate speech” as a pretence, typically to discriminate against conservative reporters and thinkers such as Alex Jones, Gavin McGinnis and Dr Jordan Peterson.
Are you one of the 1.49 billion people that log onto Facebook daily? “Bad news: Facebook is censoring the internet every day, warping your understanding of the world around you to benefit its corporate interests, and fundamentally changing the media landscape in a potentially apocalyptic fashion.”
Former bastion of free speech, Twitter itself has become a paradise for censorship campaigns:
Any organised group can now make Twitter work for them censoring the people they target, to make it label their tweets as "sensitive" or "potentially offensive", to delete all of them, to hide, suspend, and close the accounts they may see fit. It's enough to launch an organised attack to denounce the targeted accounts as "sensitive", "offensive", "harming", "spam", and Twitter will obligingly censor it. Owing to the secrecy surrounding Twitter's criteria and algorithms; the gnomic vague published rules, so loosely worded that allow to punish anybody at any time for anything…
And, if you’ve been involved in the cryptocurrency for a while as we have at Bitstocks, chances are that you’ve experienced the censorship of your financial sovereignty. Just like hundreds of cryptocurrency supporters globally (read the Stache’s story, reports relating to Barclays and HSBC, and this one by Martin Armstrong), Bitstocks has had to navigate a number of credit card payment failures and bank account closures simply because we offer cryptocurrency investment services. (Fear not, we’ve found our way to higher ground every single time!)
Knowledge is power, and an attempt to control access to knowledge is like a covert type of warfare - fought not on the battlefield with guns and tanks, but through censorship of our thoughts and communication.
Our ancestors regarded their sovereignty of belief worth shedding blood over, as hundreds of historical battles illustrate. In modern times, we are fortunate enough to have alternative methods available to us for fighting the oppression.
As a first step, one of the best ways of protesting is to boycott entities that are known for discriminatory censorship. Dave Rubin and Dr Peterson, along with a host other popular thought leaders, gave us a prime example this January when they announced their departure from the crowd-funding platform Patreon, in protest against the company’s increasing discrimination and censorship. This ethical stance does not come without a price, as Dr Peterson alone had been receiving approximately $80,000 per month through Patreon from supporters of his work, including the free content he regularly publishes on YouTube.
As a second step, creating and supporting alternative media channels are potent ways to challenge the oppressors of opinion and bringing about change. For Dave Rubin and us, cryptocurrency is the answer to censorship.
“Whether it is money or information, every human deserves to live in a world free of censorship and oppression.” Anthony Pompliano
Genuinely decentralised cryptocurrencies (unlike the Gemini dollar system where the custodian can alter or reverse transactions) provides us with one of the best ways to actively influence the world by supporting the businesses and projects we believe in.
Credit card transactions and bank transfers are subject to the biases and whims of national authorities and financial corporations, and in places like India cash bills can be declared useless overnight. When you make a payment with Paypal, it has to pass through a channel of several financial intermediaries, each making a couple of Bob in profits, and yet maintaining the right to refuse to complete your transaction.
For the first time in history, cryptocurrency gives us an alternative monetary system and currencies. If you choose to transact with Bitcoin, you won’t require anyone’s permission, national borders become irrelevant, nobody can reverse your payment, and your assets remain free from the threat of restriction or seizure.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire, French Philosopher, 1694 - 1778
Although the primary utility of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV is to function as cash, these cryptos and many others let you send a message along with a transaction or even to publish a comment to the blockchain. As long as the specific blockchain is truly decentralised and permissionless, nobody can censor your message.
The value of such a channel of free speech was successfully tested last year on two occasions, both taking place within the Chinese censorship model.
The first incident involved a Chinese university’s attempt to silence a student activist protesting sexual harassment and threatening to expose a two decades old alleged rape-suicide case involving a former professor. The censorship authority soon banned any posts referring to the case, but students stood their ground by archiving the story on the Ethereum blockchain.
The second case took place in July when Chinese government inspectors found that Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology, the country’s second-largest maker of rabies vaccines, had forged reports and violated regulations while producing 250,000 doses of rabies vaccines for humans. As the word ‘vaccine’ is one of the terms that the censorship authorities automatically suppress from the media, coverage of the incident was soon banned (South China Morning Post).
In response, one social media user took to the Ethereum Blockchain to publish his deleted post about the Changsheng case where the whole world could see, and national authorities had no reach.
Have you experienced censorship of your opinions or financial transactions? Perhaps you have already taken to crypto social media platforms to exercise freedom of speech and economic sovereignty. Please leave a comment on our social media channels to share your experiences of censorship and the solutions you’ve found.