Online censorship has played a pivotal role since former US President Donald Trump was banned from all social institutions in which he was involved. Other high-profile acts of censorship such as Amazon, which is removing the alt-right social network Parler from its servers, and Michael Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, who has been banned from Twitter, have introduced a new paradigm of online censorship.
Decentralized database service Bluzelle has decided to defend itself, so to speak. It has announced a $ 500,000 grant for censorship-resistant applications in what appears to be a direct response to Big Tech’s recent online censorship files.
Bluzelle’s CTO Neeraj Murarka has told news.Bitcoin.com his view of the ongoing debate over online censorship and Bluzelle’s strong pressure against it.
Bitcoin.com (BC): What is the motivation for Bluzelle to deal with this issue right now, as major tech brands are currently in hot water with the federal government on censorship issues?
Neeraj Muraka: The vast majority of people don’t want hate speech. However, history has shown that something that is banned usually creates more interest and the opposite is achieved. The censored or banned product will only collect more steam. On the other hand, the topic can be debated if left open and most of the time it gets stamped by the public. Basically, the public will ultimately reject hate speech, so it is best to leave the public eye to do so.
BC: Do you have an example in mind?
Muraka: I know the following are examples of products, but human psychology is still applicable. When the first Air Jordan came out, the NBA banned them because there weren’t enough white colors on them. What did Nike do? Threw a campaign called “Banned by the NBA” on it. The sale went over the roof. Rap artists like NWA and 2 Live Crew have been banned. What did it do I got my friends to do this and I listen to them more.
Start censoring certain groups, picking them out, and it will likely just attract more people. People who feel disenfranchised and marginalized are looking for something to attach themselves to. I think total censorship would have the opposite effect – make these very negative elements more attractive.
How do you decide what to censor? Is it based on Jack Dorsey’s values? If Jack is vegan and believes that people who eat meat are not suitable for the planet or for animals and his colleagues agree with him, does he forbid any speech about eating meat? It’s a slippery slope.
BC: Do you think that censorship laws in Congress should remain in the hands of the federal legislature?
Muraka: As a seasoned tech entrepreneur as well as being involved in multiple elections in Canadian politics, I generally don’t have the greatest appreciation for most elected lawmakers. They tend towards populism, which ultimately tyrannizes the minority.
Censorship laws should be minimized as much as possible, and if such laws need to exist, they should be in the hands of the legislature closest to the people they are applying to.
In terms of the US, this would mean that these laws are in the hands of the governor or district officials. Decentralization is efficient and ensures that the laws comply with the population.
BC: Obviously, censorship is a sensitive issue. How do your partners like Polkadot, Elrond, Matic etc. feel about your initiative?
Muraka: I cannot speak for you.
BC: Why didn’t you just use the money to keep investing in existing apps instead of waiting for developers to create something from scratch?
Muraka: It is rationally unlikely that most established application developers would take the risk of moving to a new platform unless there is a very strong reason to do so. On the other hand, promoting new applications that have been developed from the ground up and offer strong freedom of speech is an effort that we can push deterministically with real results.
BC: What do you want developers to see in your program?
With values such as freedom of speech, censorship resistance and freedom, we are giving a strong boost. I want developers to create applications that not only support large groups with established performance, but also smaller groups that may have exciting new ideas.
Based on the focus areas I’ve shared with the community, I envision that we’ll see applications that empower freedom. Freedom not only in information but also in finance, where people can be responsible for their money and move power away from the big banks and Wall Street.
BC: Do you fear that the developed applications will become nests of hate speech?
Muraka: I’m not worried about this – I expect hate speech to come up. It’s inevitable on any platform. Regardless, don’t suppress a platform because some bad apples are showing up. Any medium (telegraph, telephone, email, etc.) allows hatred to be spread, but of course we don’t close them down, do we? The vision I have for apps and platforms to address this problem is very democratic in nature. It is important to empower the public to suppress hatred.
BC: What is your plan to address this issue, if and when it should arise?
Muraka: I would never take a direct step and clean up Bob’s hate speech. Rather, I allow the public to vote on its messages. What happens? His messages aren’t deleted, but they get so much negative feedback that they almost never show up on someone’s “feeds”. Bob has been censored in every way, yet no great power (including myself) has taken a unilateral move to do so.
BC: Is there anything else you want to add?
Muraka: Freedom of expression and the ideas that come with it are vital to the development of society. We have seen “unpopular” ideas (like abolitionism in the US before the Declaration of Emancipation) that ultimately turned the tide and made the world a much better place. If such ideas had been silenced, the improvements would not have occurred.
It is bold to assume that unpopular ideas should be silenced and therefore censored.
I’m not saying that every unpopular idea is a good one, but I’m saying that as a progressive society we cannot afford to silence unpopularity. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
What do you think of Big Tech’s role in online free speech? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo credit: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, Bluzelle
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