Previous articles on the use of blockchains have discussed the practicality of their use in certain situations. The business models for most ICOs are flawed because their business plans don’t actually need to be decentralised. In short, Blockchains provide decentralisation and are ideal in circumventing censorship and providing immutability.
Blockchains can be used to bypass government censorship, or as in Bitcoin’s case, the combination of government censorship working together with blockades from financial institutions. Most cryptocurrencies serve no purpose because decentralisation and censorship resistance is completely unnecessary to the problems they claim to solve. Decentralising dental records or tokenising the ownership to bananas in a plantation are stupid uses for blockchain. In the technology and media space, for the most part, decentralising apps are also inefficient and unnecessary. That is of course, until major centralised companies all collude to censor free speech. This topic is incredibly relevant due to some worrying recent events in the US.
Shock jock gets banned
Last week, US media behemoths Facebook, Youtube, Spotify, Vimeo and Apple’s iTunes store all removed the media content of controversial radio host Alex Jones, in what was blatantly a co-ordinated effort to silence the high profile celebrity. For readers who aren’t aware of his work, Alex Jones is a very popular radio announcer, podcast host and media personality who’s questionable views on events such as the September 11 terrorist attacks or the numerous mass school shootings have led him to be labelled a conspiracy theorist and a right wing lunatic. Despite these labels being slapped on him by the mainstream media, Jones’ Infowars channel is amongst the highest rated shows on national radio and online platforms. His podcasts attract over 20 million listeners monthly, and over the years has featured many prominent guests including President Trump himself. Despite his controversial views, his passion and larger than life personality can be wildly entertaining.
So why is Jones’ deactivation from the various online media channels relevant to blockchains? Well simply because this is a classic example of a popular voice in the alternative media being censored. Blockchains are commonly used as a way to circumvent financial censorship, but they can also be used to bypass censorship in other vital areas of life, in this instance, the freedom of speech.
Whatever your thoughts are on Alex Jones and his controversial opinions, the co-ordinated action by the numerous online media outlets should be disconcerting for all of us. But the censorship of free speech and ideas in this particular situation doesn’t stop with Infowars. Conservative commentator Gavin McInnes was recently banned from Twitter, and in an act akin to Soviet style tactics, Youtube and Facebook have started to remove some videos which simply discuss the banning of Alex Jones from their platforms. In a move which makes this situation even more Orwellian, Jones’ Infowars website was also temporarily taken down by its hosting company, although the site has since been reactivated.
The principle behind the silencing of Alex Jones is downright scary. You may think that the media’s ban on Infowars only affects one right wing conspiracy theorist, but this event reveals the centralised power that large online media platforms actually have on society.
Suppose next time, the ban isn’t on a right wing personality, but on a whistle blower trying to expose government corruption. Or perhaps the next ban will be the marginalising of a presidential candidate whose ideas are censored due to them not being palatable to the powers that be. It’s now apparent that online media platforms are able to collude in promoting a certain information agenda while silencing unpopular ideas.
The blockchain solution
This is why the use of a blockchain, along with decentralised media apps which allow for the uncensorable sharing of ideas is so important for freedom. The decentralisation of money allows individuals the freedom to transact economically in a voluntary manner without the force of government or intimidation of the financial institutions. The blacklisting of Infowars has laid out a case for the importance of decentralised social media platforms which will promote free speech, freedom of expression, and the freedom of ideas.
In a free society, it is not popular speech that must be protected, but unpopular speech. Blockchain and decentralised media platforms offer to bypass the silencers of speech. So contrary to the thoughts and actions of financial speculators and outright gamblers trying to make a quick buck in the crypto space, the ideals of economic freedom, the principles of free speech, and the expansion of individual liberty is what the cryptocurrency ecosystem is actually trying to offer.