Can Blockchain Save the Internet from Censorship? Substratum, Brave, IPFS and Flixxo
The internet is dying, a slow painful and bloody death. The internet isn’t dying from natural causes though, oh no, it’s being strangled and choked out by bureaucratic governments and massive multi-national companies desperate to control what you and I access and put online. If it isn’t the Russians ruining their fun its internet trolls with subversive dangerous content like grumpy cat memes.
This week the European Union approved legislation to be voted on that would change the face of the internet forever and more importantly will mess with our memes. This new legislation will require all websites to filter uploads for copyright material rejecting anything that breaches ‘copyright’ laws. This would put an end to fair use and more importantly memes. The other thing that article 13 will do is ‘tax’ anyone who even links to other sites content. With the open free internet being destroyed bit by bit in front of our very eyes can Blockchain save it, can it become Web 3.0 and if so which Blockchain companies are leading the way and should you invest in them?
The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market was approved by the EU last week and while the clowns in parliament cheered it on everyone else was given a gut punch by the news.
The controversial law is set to update copyright laws for the digital age, protecting the rights of peoples work online. Only it doesn’t just do that, hidden in the behemoth of legislation are articles 11 and 13 lovingly called the Link Tax and the Meme Ban.
Service providers such as Youtube, Facebook and Instagram should scan all uploads for copyright material and block such uploads automatically. Such a system is hardly going to distinguish between blatant copyright infringement, educational fair use, and parody and as a result internet memes will inevitably be caught up in the crossfire.
Agregators like google news will pay publishers for using snippets of articles and linking to them from their own platforms or sites. While the rule states private individuals sharing links on social media won’t be expected to pay the ‘link tax’ make no mistake this rule is being pushed to shut down alternative news media online and will also affect sites like Cryptopanic whose only purpose is to share bitcoin and crypto news links. If Cryptopanic isn’t in your bookmarks it should be and of course, so should Cryptopig.com.
Internet Memes are funny/sarcastic and at times ironic, they resonate with people and real memes go viral very quickly.
So a little history lesson: The definition of a meme came from the famously intelligent Richard Dawkins back in the 70’s plenty of time before the internet in a book called The Selfish Gene. Back then it was in hardback but don’t worry people, I know books are far too old school so if you’re interested it’s available on audible.
The meme as he described it was meant to represent the spreading of an element of culture such as ideas, behaviors, practices even art, music and communication from one person to another through imitation.
In order for something to be considered a true meme, it has to have three core elements. It has to be copied accurately, replicated with speed and has to have staying power. So you can see how Article 13 will destroy Memes completely.
But memes aren’t the only thing at risk these days on the internet. Silicon Valley is allegedly shadow banning people from both the Right and the Left on Twitter. Amazon is doing the modern day equivalent of book burning and is removing ‘problematic’ books from the store.
In what looked like a coordinated effort Facebook, Apple, Twitter and now Paypal have all banned Alex Jones. No matter what you think of his politics or theories the unpersoning of Jones should be a concern for everyone who expects the internet to be free and open. It also happens to be exactly the sort of behavior that makes Jones look less like a tin foil hat wearing lunatic and like someone who was right about the media and government silencing people they disagree with. Is that really the effect they were hoping to have? When such a small number of large companies can practically erase someone from the internet isn’t it time to ask do they have too much power? What can be done about it and can Blockchain fix the Internet?
Of all the ICO’s that we saw over the last year, there was a number that looked to change the way that we use and see the internet. From Substratum, Brave, IPFS to Flixxo and D-tube there have been plenty of competitors looking to solve the issues.
Substratum was one of the most exciting looking projects of last year and touted itself as the solution to internet censorship. Even now during this incredibly long crypto winter it still sounds like a great investment on paper. Substratum will effectively allow users to bypass the restrictions imposed by their isp’s. Users can set up their own Substratum nodes that would act as decentralized servers for the internet. The problem is it’s not yet near a fully working product. It is beginning its open beta and is also developing a cryptopay portal that will allow for payments to be made on sites in any cryptocurrency and even fiat. This almost sounds as exciting as the original project. The problem there is it’s a second ICO and a separate token so it’s of no benefit directly to sub-token holders. Right now they’re not close enough to a working product to be a substantial investment but at just 11 cents a token down from their high of $2.88 it could be a good speculative purchase if made with caution. The risk being that Substratum could be losing focus to develop Cryptopay.
Brave browser has a working product now, it’s meant to be a competitor to google chrome and using their BAT tokens you could donate crypto to your favorite websites for visiting them instead of seeing their ads, Braves built-in ad blocker makes sure of that. It’s available but it’s not really ready yet. It has glitches and isn’t that smooth of a user experience. Setting up crypto payments is a nightmare for noncrypto enthusiasts and that’s where the browser really fails. If the crypto shy masses aren’t able to easily install, set up and use Brave browser its adoption won’t be successful and for an ICO that raised $35 million in 20 seconds, the resulting product is a bit meh. Brave browser also doesn’t resolve the censorship issues and doesn’t provide the fix to the internet we need but their mobile browser is a lot more usable and is perhaps where most of that budget is focused right now.
Flixxo is a media sharing platform which is supposed to decentralize video content across the blockchain similar to D-tube but unlike D-tube it doesn’t have a fully functioning product. The last video update by the Flixxo team was over 10 months ago and the website is devoid of information. Their twitter account announced this month that private beta testing is beginning now but their general radio silence is not a good sign for the startup.
Of all the projects out there though IPFS is probably the closest to reaching web 3.0. They have a working product in testing at the moment but it’s currently very much geared towards backend developers and is nowhere near a user-friendly version. The protocol allows for literal peer to peer distributed internet and the technology demoed by IPFS is very compelling. At some point these guys could be the saviors the internet needs but looking at the various offerings out there we may be waiting some time. Until then we have to pray and hope that the EU fails to pass Articles 11 and 13 because I don’t know how we’ll survive without our memes.
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Disclaimer: CryptoPig content is written by a team of blockchain passionate people. We are not registered as investment advisors. Don’t take the information in this post as investment advice and make sure you do your own research before investing. Cryptocurrencies are a very risky investment, never invest more money than you can afford to lose.