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

After the Great Trump Twitter Ban and Parler Shut Down of 2021, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey alluded to ways in which the Blockchain technology that facilitates and regulates Bitcoin could also be used for social media. Writer Nathaniel Popper followed up on this in an article for The New York Times, looking into companies that are actively looking into this kind of collective digital ledger-keeping methodology as a means to counter-act the power of Big Tech companies.

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

Which means it can be used for righteous purposes:

Last year, Arweave, a blockchain-based project for permanently storing and displaying websites, created an archive of sites and documents from the protests in Hong Kong that angered the Chinese government.

But it can also be used to empower some less-than-savory perspectives as well, because that's how free technology works:

Minds, a blockchain-based replacement for Facebook founded in 2015, also became an online home to some of the right-wing personalities and neo-Nazis who were booted from mainstream social networks, along with fringe groups, in other countries, that have been targeted by their governments. Minds and other similar start-ups are funded by prominent venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures.


At LBRY, the blockchain-based alternative to YouTube, the number of people signing up daily has surged 250 percent from December, the company said. The newcomers appear to have largely been a motley crew of Trump fans, white supremacists and gun rights advocates who violated YouTube's rules.

When YouTube removed the latest videos from the white supremacist video blogger Way of the World last week, he tweeted: "Why do we waste our time on this globalist scum? Come to LBRY for all my videos in HD quality, censorship free!"

There's definitely some interesting potential there, regardless of how it's mostly being used right now.

They Found a Way to Limit Big Tech's Power: Using the Design of Bitcoin [Nathaniel Popper / New York Times]

Image: Public Domain via Public Domain Pictures

(Full Disclosure: I also write for Wirecutter, which is part of the New York Times Company, which also owns the New York Times.)