LBRY Network: A Censorship Resistant Media Platform
Whether you like it or not, censorship has become part of the daily life of almost every person on Earth no matter what country you reside in. Of course, there are varying degrees of censorship depending on where you live, but thanks to various governments it’s almost impossible to get uncensored information regardless of your location.
First it was the ICO deranking on Google, then it was widespread censorship on YouTube, and now Facebook won’t show you articles which have been deemed to contain possible false information. No matter how you look at it, censorship in the United States is at an all-time high, and it is increasing every day. Obtaining unbiased information is nearly impossible unless you check foreign news sites, and there are other censorship/bias issues there as well. And all of this above doesn’t mention the fact that the US government can (and will) take down any site it chooses if it believes the site is conducting illegal activity. A prime example is the Silk Road marketplace which was shut down by the FBI in 2013.
Thanks to a new invention known as the LBRY network, there is now a network built on the blockchain which claims to be censorship proof. The way the LBRY network works is that it stores data in a decentralized fashion across a number of nodes thus if the information is deleted from one node, it still exists across all the others. LBRY is a competitor of YouTube, Amazon, and basically any online market place or content sharing platform you can think of. The LBRY network is committed to remaining censorship free, and although it’s possible that the government could try and censor it, the way it is designed would make it nearly impossible for them to keep up because as they deleted data off one node, (or tried to block the website) it would just pop up on another.
Now this doesn’t mean you can post things such as child porn to the LBRY network. In fact, according to the CEO Jeremy Kauffman, any content posted to the network must be legal in the USA. Not only that, but the network is a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) compliant company, meaning if any content posted is registered with a copyright, it will be subject to removal. Kauffman claims there will be no automated bots patrolling the LBRY network looking for content to remove, but just how is he planning to abide with the laws without it? And where does abiding with the law end and censorship start? Even Kauffman acknowledges it will be a very fine line to walk.
So, what makes LBRY so special? Well in recent years you may not have noticed, but all social media platforms have become extremely left wing. This means right wing content is de-ranked and often impossible to find. LBRY is free of political bias, in fact the only politics they believe in is the freedom of speech for everyone. But although there isn’t political censorship, this doesn’t mean that certain content won’t be removed due to illegality, which could, to some people, seem a bit like censorship.
How LBRY Works
LBRY, like most blockchains, uses a proof of work algorithm and runs on their own cryptocurrency known as LBRY credits (LBC). Users then use these credits to pay, or tip for, specified premium content. Just like any other cryptocurrency, LBC is mined by miners using GPUs or FPGA’s.
To upload content to LBRY, the owner of the content must download the software to their computer (the CEO says mobile/easier access will be around the corner!) and then submit their content with a bid (or deposit) in order to reserve their space on the blockchain. The upload is then verified by miners and posted. Content providers can choose to offer their content for a fee, or for free and accept tips. As a LBRY user, you may also want to download the software to your computer (but you can just use their website) and you would need to exchange some of your currency for LBC tokens. Then you could pay to watch content that interests you, or watch as much free content as you want (but it is recommended to show your appreciation by tipping!).
Surprisingly, there are already a number of big name youtubers whom have moved from the YouTube platform to LBRY recently. Most notably you can now find Jordan Peterson and Veritasium on LBRY. As of March of 2019, the LBRY network was seeing about 40,000 unique users a week and the user base is always growing so it is most likely a much higher number now.
Of course, all of this technology doesn’t come without various concerns from interested parties. The number one concern from supporters of the network is that LBRY is based on a proof of work algorithm, rather than a proof of stake consensus, which many networks such as Ethereum are switching over to. In an interview, Kauffman addressed this by saying he believed that proof of work is a more tested and secure system, but he also says that there is a possibility LBRY would switch to a proof of stake consensus in the far future.
Another accusation facing the company, is that some of the die-hard cryptocurrency enthusiasts believe that LBRY is too centralized. The fact that it is owned, and therefore can be controlled, by a single company bothers them. Although blockchain is forever (so items uploaded are difficult to take down and remove) there are those that are afraid they will build a following on the platform only to watch the company go under or be shut down by the US government. Kauffman addressed this in the interview as well by stating that the US government could indeed shut down his company. But even if that were to happen (which he believes it won’t) the technology would still be there, and he believes that with miners located all over the world it would be very simple and easy for someone to set up a new branch of the company outside of the US.
Overall, despite all the current concerns surrounding the LBRY network, many blockchain companies think it truly has the future potential to rival centralized companies like YouTube and Amazon. And if you’re a content maker and currently battling the unconquerable world of YouTube, it might be time to head over and upload your content on a network where you won’t be delisted just because of your content.
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