Throughout the early 2000’s websites began to emerge that we now know as “social media” platforms; tools to connect with others and exchange ideas and thoughts. We came to use and love those tools so much that we have turned ourselves into being spied on voluntarily. We sold our right to privacy and anonymity just to keep on using a “free” website. But is that the only choice we have?
Fast forward almost two decades and we’re standing on the edge of a digital revolution. Blockchain technology has come a long way from being confused with being just another name for Bitcoin and is now ready to serve the world with a decentralized network of nodes that no single authority holds domain over. We have created a censorship resistant network that we own instead of having it own us and selling our personalized data to advertising companies.
Where are we now?
The current situation is still one of centralized services, but users are becoming weary of them and their constant change in policies. Take Reddit for example: what was once lauded for being an open platform to freely discuss whatever was on your mind in your own subreddits, has turned into a soggy mess of shadowbanning content and outright deleting certain subreddits. While you may agree with the content that was banned now, who can assure you that you’ll always be on the right side of the law? Like Martin Niemöller said in his “First they came…” poem, at some point you’ll probably end up being targeted despite not doing anything different than usual.
Or what about facebook? A service that began as a simple tool to connect to your college buddies turned into a massive complex of personalized data up for sale to the highest bidder.
And what about YouTube? Originally warning you about giving away any personal information and after being acquired by Google basically forcing you to give up your identity if you want to register an account as well as demonitizing content creators for no apparent reason other than not fitting a current narrative.
The reason this is happening in the first place is the simple need to generate any kind of revenue to pay the hosting services or maybe pay salary to the website’s operators. A business model needs to be created out of thin air, or maybe the plan was there all along.
Whatever the case, deplatforming, censorship and sales of personalized profiles is the current default for any “free” website or service that we’re using.
Let’s change that!
A chain of blocks
The decentralized nature of some blockchain networks allows us to build truly immutable and censorship resistant services that don’t necessarily need a business model — and by that extent doesn’t have to please any advertisers or other agencies by censoring or hiding their content.
By introducing incentivized models and game theory to a service that users can participate with through the use of cryptocurrencies and by deducting a small fee each time a user has to pay we’d create a system where low effort posts are discouraged and the service becomes self sustainable as long as there are users using it. We’d never have to rely on advertisers purchasing ad-spaces on our website anymore or data-mining our users for monetary gain.
The “D” in discussion stands for “decentralized”
By leveraging already available technologies and tools we aim to create a decentralized, immutable and censorship resistant platform that we call 0xchan; loosely based on what image- and messageboards on the internet currently have to offer we took the core components and found useful ways and methods of decentralizing any current social media platform.
On 0xchan, no single authority tells you what you can’t talk about; the community governs itself by a Proof of Stake based voting system to keep universally unacceptable material out. That way, we don’t run the risk of becoming the next BitcoinSV. Still, to be able to exercise free speech and discuss your ideas freely without the fear of being silenced is the goal of 0xchan.
Large chunks of data like messages and media files will be stored on IPFS and a smart contract will serve as a ledger to keep track of what needs to go where. Users can roll their own frontends and access both the smart contract and the IPFS node by themselves. Even running a clone of the IPFS node is possible and will introduce a level of redundancy to the data storage layer — something that is impossible with current websites.
Storage on IPFS is not eternal; if it is not requested anymore it will be “unpinned”, which means that it’ll be cleared for the next garbage collection and then removed from the node. This removes the need to add more storage space to the node because old space can be freed which in turn means no additional cost that needs to be covered for new hardware.
We are currently running a fundraiser over on our website 0xchan.net to collect funds that help us pay our bills so we can dedicate our time to make this important step happen.
Decentralized and censorship resistant platforms need to happen. Why not help us build them?
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it
~ Evelyn Beatrice Hall
I’ll be covering the development process of 0xchan through a series of Medium posts. If you want to keep updated or interact with our growing community, feel free to follow my Medium account, follow our Twitter or join our Discord.