Examining Cryptocurrency Censorship

Strap in folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Crypto-censorship is a difficult topic to dive into – it riles feathers, it creates troubling debates, and it pits the libertarian roots of the blockchain against the modern realities of digital finance and global power distribution. Some of the things you’re going to read in this article will make you shake your head, whilst others may cause you to slam your fist on the table, because if you care about the crypto-world as much as us here at CryptoMood, you’ll see there some things just aren’t right.

Let’s start by explaining where the most notable censorship exists, and ironically, it’s probably through the same place that many of you found this article. Google.

Google’s Censorship of cryptocurrency

For several years, Google and YouTube (which is owned by Google) have waged a silent but effective war of censorship against the entire crypto-world. This is not a war of words, it is not a war of violence, slander, or destruction, but rather it is a passive war, in which Google and YouTube suppress the growth of Bitcoin, the blockchain, and the crypto-world.

How have they done it?

  • Continually removing crypto-related apps from the app store (including CoinTelegraph)
  • Blocking ad campaigns for crypto-companies
  • Deleting, restricting, or limiting video information about Bitcoin and the blockchain as well as purging hundreds of videos and view counts
  • Pursuing a hostile information policy with regard to cryptocurrency projects

If you look again, you’ll see that we’ve quoted someone above. But it’s not a who, it’s a what, it’s a movement known as #ForkGoogle. Their aim is to convince crypto-enthusiasts and others who want a more liberal internet to move some of their activities over to Steemit and Brave, and to rely less on Google. They powerfully state:

“We deem these actions anti-market behavior, digital militarism, and informational discrimination. We shall actively engage in community events, pursuing the goal of ending Google’s pressure on the industry.”

“At this time, we are organizing protests in Kyiv, Odesa, Tel Aviv, and New York. We will announce dates and further details in the near future.”

“We believe that the U.S. Senate should subpoena Google representatives to testify on the corporation’s hostile actions targeting industry members. The same initiative should be followed by competent institutions and agencies across the globe. We urge those concerned to sign a petition in support of our demands.”

If you think this is old news, you’d be wrong, after years of crypto-suppression, this movement was launched in March 2020. The campaign to improve universal access to cryptocurrency information as a basic human right is well underway.

Is Google acting alone?

Whilst it could be easy to point the finger at Google and YouTube and get irate at the situation, you have to ask yourself, ‘why would they suppress information when it goes against their business model?’. The answer is that Google was pressured by the FBI and the Binary Options Task Force in Canada. The suppression goes higher, and it’s not only Google they targeted. Facebook bowed to their commands too.

Facebook vs Crypto

Back in January 2018, after the great bull run that left a lot of crypto-traders fabulously wealthy and many more investors scratching their heads at their epic losses, Facebook decided to ban crypto-ads on the basis of ‘deceptive promotional practices’. Perhaps they were justified in doing so, but, how is it any different from those involved in fitness pill pyramid schemes and clueless people getting swept up in forex auto-trader scams? Where does Facebook draw the line on what is ethical, or is the line being drawn for them by more powerful forces? Who has the most to lose here?

A lot of ambiguity surrounds this decision, especially when we weigh up the things we now know or suspect:

  • The FBI pressured Facebook to suppress crypto
  • Zuckerberg was concerned that cryptocurrencies “take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands” (this sounds great to the common man, but it’s probably terrifying for a multi-billionaire to think about)
  • Zuck claimed he personally wanted to study the Blockchain and crypto-sphere more closely
  • Facebook has been working on a crypto and blockchain initiative since as early as 2017, with rumours emerging in May 2018 that a coin was being developed, just months after the platform banned ICO and crypto adverts
  • Facebook Libra was announced in June 2019 – this is Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency

Whilst we are not investigative journalists and don’t wish to get drawn into speculation, perhaps you the reader are coming to a similar conclusion here. Is Facebook suppressing the industry and manipulating the market in order to control their own position within it? Or are they simply late adopters who have been backed into a corner? Alternatively, are they choosing to join the cryptocurrency game because they couldn’t truly defeat or suppress it? There is some potentially good news that comes attached to these questions, in that Facebook launched quite a broad censorship, with the intention to repeal aspects of it in order to envision a future without censorship. Ties may improve as a result of this.

Viewers of popular US show ‘Mr Robot’ may see some striking similarities between Facebook Libra and E-Coin, but of course, that show is fictional. Wikipedia states: “In a meeting with top Senate Democratic leaders on September 18, 2019, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers that Libra would not be launched anywhere in the world without first obtaining approval from United States regulators.” Mr Robot fans, doesn’t that sound familiar?

Censorship on Reddit

Google and Facebook’s censorship could be understood or justified, but what about Reddit? You’d think that Reddit, one of the greatest social forums in history could be free from censorship and allow for freedom of speech and all sorts of crypto-discussions. Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong – Reddit is experiencing its own sort of crypto-censorship campaign, and it’s got users worried. 

Reddit users in /bitcoin and other similar threads have experienced:

  • Comments that go against moderators opinions being deleted
  • Comments being silenced
  • Bans being handed out to various crypto-commenters
  • In another example, a user posted a video ‘What is blockchain?’ in r/bitcoin and it was deleted for irrelevance (truth can be stranger than fiction)
  • Censoring discussion of certain coins

Finding answers as to why, who, and where is quite difficult. This censorship is different from Facebook and Google, who openly admit that it’s policy. On Reddit, it could be something deeper than that.

Should cryptocurrency be censored?

Perhaps the previous sections lack impartiality, so it’s only fair to present an argument that goes the other way.

There are certain metrics or KPIs (both good and bad) that would give cause to concern for the powerful elites (governments, financial conglomerates, banks) who might want to do their best to stop it in its tracks. They include:

  • Whether a currency can be used to break laws or censor illegal transactions (pay a sex worker, buy drugs, launder money etc)
  • Whether it actually solves real mainstream problems (perhaps better than a mainstream financial institution, which might then deem it a rival)

There’s a little fact about cryptocurrencies that might not surprise you, but is useful to know: countries with higher financial restrictions (think Iran, Venezuela, Cuba) use cryptocurrency more than other countries with fewer financial restrictions. If people in these countries are using crypto as a tool for financial freedom and to break social constructs (as it was intentionally designed for by Satoshi Nakamoto), that’s obviously a good thing, right? Well, not if you’re the one implementing censorship and restrictions. 

So, should cryptocurrency be censored? No. It should not. Read more on this theme.

Is cryptocurrency itself a tool of anti-censorship?

Well, you can better your bottom dollar it is! Cryptocurrencies were designed to give autonomy, freedom, and adaptability to people, allowing them more control over their finances and transactions, without being watched or restricted. Cryptocurrency is to money what Bittorrent is to file sharing, what Tor is to internet browsing, and what Signal is for messaging. Now, some people misuse these platforms and do illegal things on them, that’s a given, but ultimately that is because they had the free will and choice to do so. 

Remove these platforms and they’d find another way because these platforms were not designed for mainstream use, they were designed for the use of the censored. In effect, there is a causal loop going on here, in that the more people are censored, the harder they must work to design systems that cannot be censored, and the censoring authorities must then work smarter in order to censor them. This game could simply go on indefinitely. 

Cryptocurrency offers a side-exit, a trap door, a zip line to another way. Whether you choose to take that path is up to you, but once you cross over to the other side and see what it can do for you, you may well agree with us that censorship of this movement is immoral.

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