After modifying a tweet of the President of the United States to then censor another one by hiding it behind a warning, Twitter has done what you would think is the unthinkable.
When visiting a statement by the Whitehouse, instead of being presented with what the office of the most powerful government on earth has stated, you are presented with this statement:
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible. Learn more.”
We would like to learn more indeed, especially whether any Twitter employee has participated in the Talent program, but what is even more interesting is that the previously archived page on archive.org does not show this warning.
At the time of writing the tweet is still live and the warning is shown, yet when we tried to newly archive it, we get this:
We have forgotten through all these years that archive.org is of course just a database, fully manipulatable, censorable, even changeable by the employees of archive.org.
Until now we have considered archive.org as some sort of physical reality, something objective, a bit like old papyruses.
Yet here we have a very forceful reminder that nothing on the internet is rigid, that all of it can easily be changed.
Nothing except for the blockchain of course, where instead of having some admins or employees deciding how to modify anything they please, including very old archived pages, nothing can be modified on the blockchain unless all agree to modify it.
Importantly, even if all agree, we can all see that a modification was made and what was the modification and we can disagree with the modification by chain-splitting. While with an old archived page, we wouldn’t even be aware that it has been changed.
We’ve all heard those stories about close friends of Stalin or whatever other dictator being removed from old pictures after they fall out of favor.
Well online you can do that at a grand scale and very unnoticeably unless you store it on a blockchain.
Minds, which we have used before, is one such blockchain based social media that feels and looks pretty much like Twitter, but has some tokenization aspects which are not intrusive and are not even necessary, and claims to run on the blockchain although their site seems too fast so we’re not too sure about just how much of it does really utilize the blockchain.
Arguably you could have some sort of social media blockchain with potentially a token that acts a bit like Twitter’s falling stock shares, whereby you need to only store the hashes on participating computers and thus make modification very difficult if you want to still present the overall interface.
Akasha kind of tries to do so with its own node software where as you’d expect for a decentralized network at this stage, surfing is a bit slow and sometime glitchy, but they have a website interface where it’s like a normal website.
If Minds suffers from a terrible name however in as far as we can’t even find it on Google or when searching in other places where you can’t expect any potential suppression of the network because it’s such a generic name, then Akasha suffers from maybe a bit too much experimentation.
That’s because Akasha is not quite Twitter or Facebook or Medium or a combination, but more sort of its own thing, a new way to do social, which of course can be interesting and useful but maybe not if perhaps even the president himself is to lead an exodus.
Such platform would most certainly have been here by now if Jay Clayton, the Chief of the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) did not kill so many innovative projects. Enforcing in the process the monopoly of Twitter et al.
If Trump is really for freedom therefore, and now that it is biting him he may well be, he should start by firing Jay Clayton to open the opportunity to engage in competitive capitalism to so many extremely smart entrepreneurs.
There should of course still be some quality controls perhaps by setting up an industry derived crypto semi-governmental body, but the principle of innocent until proven guilty should be returned, with all free to fundraise generally under the subject of punishing prison terms for fraudsters and scammers.
For otherwise unless we open the capital raising markets there can’t quite be bottom up innovation. The smart ones can’t take on these monopolies, because they would have to go to raise money to the venture capitalists that set up these monopolies in the first place.
This is a wake up call for these platforms were designed, envisioned, and seen until now as like cables where electricity passes through, with electricity in this case being the people who voluntarily give them all this vast content with Twitter, Google, Facebook, et al, creating no content themselves at any scale relatively speaking.
Now however they have become more governors, private governments dictating hugely important matters, including what the Whitehouse can say:
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
That is the censored Tweet and we have our own opinions on it but for Twitter to interfere in this most sensitive situation where there are riots going on in Minneapolis is astonishing to a speechless degree.
These are life and death matters. The president commands the greatest army on earth. Would Twitter have censored Churchill when calling to fight them on the beaches if say the Chamberlain crowd had by stealth or even openly taken control of Twitter’s board or shareholdings?
The comparison is not apt you can rightly say, those men rioting are expressing perhaps even righteous anger, but you do that by protesting peacefully and maybe even angrily, but not by terrorizing your own neighborhood and setting it on fire and destroying the shops of completely innocent people.
In that extremely dangerous situation, to interfere with the words of the President is more than dangerous. It is treason, bought maybe for just $1 billion.
So you should expect political answers and of course those political answers have a role to play, but we also need technological answers where such interference is not possible and for now the only such technological answer is the blockchain.