Can Blockchain help keep Big Tech's social media power in check?

Originally published at: Can Blockchain help keep Big Tech's social media power in check? | Boing Boing

Can Blockchain help keep Big Tech’s social media power in check?



because that’s how free technology works

I thought that meant its first use would be porn?


Almost nothing requires all the affordances of blockchain simultaneously. And if you don’t need all the affordances of blockchain there are better, cheaper, more vetted approaches that can get the job done more easily and more reliably. There’s a great talk by Eric Hellman from a few years ago that goes into detail about this (at saved timestamp in video below):


“Need immutability? Use a cryptographic hash-chain and publish hashes in the New York Times” like Surety does.

“Need transparency? Use append-only, cryptographically assured, publicly-autidtable log servers with auditors and monitors” a la certificate transparency.

“Need automated consensus? Are you sure? Instead, make it easy for people to communicate and exchange information in cryptographically signed blocks. Make it easy to fork their mods, and to merge them when consensus is reached.” In other words, use Git.

“Need decentralized? Use LOCKSS.”

And so on.

I’m not a blockchain expert or a crypto expert, so I’m genuinely interested to hear criticisms of his position, which seems compelling and well thought out.


Blockchain is wrong tool!


I totally agree. Blockchain is fine for retaining records but to keep the channels open for communication you need a way to distribute those channels in the first place. Right now, the core of the internet is basically owned by a handful of corporations which is a disaster waiting to happen. We think of China’s “Great Firewall” as a huge effort but in practice it’s pretty simple to implement and I expect in a decade the US will have its own version for “security reasons” or some other nonsense excuse they’ll cook up. In the end, the Internet we know today will become far more walled off than it is now. And by then it might be impossible to even use something like Tor to get around it.




Distributed messaging is good, but with blockchains, if I want to be part of it, it’s take-it-or-leave-it. I have to also distribute all the Nazi shitposts, child porn, etc.

I want complete control over what my node distributes. Other nodes can carry the traffic that I don’t want, and they can talk with their friends, if they have any.

This is the freeze peach that gives a Nazi a megaphone in my living room at 3am. Nope.




Heh. If it was really about that, then how would Twitter’s business model operate in a world where Jack Dorsey has no control over the social media content?


In other words, it’s about de-centralizing power. Ideally, anyway.

Yes, but that’s only part of the equation and it isn’t a great use case for blockchain technology (especially since social media is almost the exact opposite of a “low-trust” scenario)*. It’s also about denying violent extremists and bigots a mainstream mass-media platform to spread their poison, something Dorsey and Zuckerberg have failed at miserably.

There is a balance to be found. For example, when the fascist-friendly social network Gab moved to the de-centralised and federated Mastadon service, their instance and its users were immediately banned by just about every other instance (the developers of the FOSS also denied them support services) because most of the fediverse didn’t like Nazis and white supremacists. They could still use the technology to publish their garbage, unencrypted, but it didn’t travel outside their little cesspool.

[* also, let’s be clear, Dorsey does not want to see a rise in truly de-centralised social networks – not great for profits]


This is why I prefer federated solutions. Not just because of not wanting to distribute Nazi content but also that you can avoid distributing content that’s not relevant to your interests. Federating/peering knocks out spam and nazis in one go.


Can Blockchain help…?

Ummm…when you start a question with that, the answer is always “No”. @wazroth said it better.

but then how else will we use up all the electricity in the world


Bitcoin uses as much power as Chile so half a million people can move money around. It’s not a viable technology for something on the scale of Facebook (let alone something on the scale of Bitcoin, which should be outlawed because of it’s insane climate externalities).


So do bogus “blockchain” articles bubble up whenever Bitcoin surges in the crypto market?



1 Like

Yeah, BB has been falling into this habit quite a bit lately.

Betteridge's law of headlines - Wikipedia.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.