Steemit, one of the publishing apps available as a “censorship-resistant” alternative to heavily moderated platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even Reddit, has taken a step into content moderation. It recently banned The Dark Overlord from operating on their platform. The Dark Overlord used the platform to communicate with users about their latest hack that promised to release 9/11 related documents in exchange for bitcoin.
Steemit Exerts Censorship
Steemit was conceived as a free, censorship-resistant alternative to the more popular publishing mainstream sites that have tight moderating policies. Aided by blockchain tech, the Steem network, the backend that is leveraged by the Steemit website, has every post saved on the blockchain to be accessed, protected from deletion.
However, the original interface and the one principally built to enable users to interact with the Steem network, has apparently banned the account of The Dark Overlord, the hacking group which took some insurance files from UK firms and announced they would be releasing keys to decrypt these documents in exchange for bitcoin. Steemit seems to have relegated the hackers to a file of users who supposed breach their Terms of Service (ToS). Such a file or list has been heavily criticized in the platform’s Github comment section.
Despite presumably having taken this action to avoid any further problems with law enforcement agencies, this has ignited a debate in social networks, discussing the hacking action and if it was or not “ethical”, and the validity and correctness of this action taken by Steemit.
For crypto enthusiasts, the claim has been blockchain-aided social media platforms will be different from their more centralized counterparts, and especially in the area of censorship. Others argue Steemit made no such claims, and law-breaking activity was strictly forbidden. It’s a debate the ecosystem seems willing to have as content hosting sites such Patreon and YouTube come under similar criticism. At the very least, it is apparent blockchain social media can have similar censoring mechanisms baked-in, for better or worse.
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