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Hackernoon logoYou Censor One of Us, You Censor Us All by@jeffrey-neijenhuis

You Censor One of Us, You Censor Us All

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@jeffrey-neijenhuisJeffrey Neijenhuis

Your life is a decentralized blockchain, except nobody but you has the full copy of events.

Censorship is on the rise as technology gets more advanced. We’re going to explore some key areas where censorship exists today, how censorship impacts everyone, and the domino effects that occur. We’re also taking a look at technology based solutions enabling powerful - not perfect - anti censorship tools for citizens. 

You can use a knife to cut your steak, or you can use a knife to harm someone. You can use dollars to pay your taxes, or to launder money. The same is happening with telecommunications by governments and big tech. 

Freedom and truth for all is within reach, but the current establishment is too scared, centralized, and in complete control to write history their way. 

Definition of censorship

Censorship limits what someone may think, say, show, or do. Thoughts, words, visuals, and actions are suppressed because they are considered ‘offensive’ by the government, policy makers, algorithms, religions, and other bodies with (self-proclaimed) authority. 

What is censorship

Censorship reduces someone’s freedom to move outside of boundaries other people decided upon. This is not limited to governments, but also to programmers writing software or algorithms, and policy makers hired by social media platforms. Even pressure in your own social environment can lead to self censorship. Out of fear, rejection, or worse. This self censoring can affect someone on a personal level. 

Companies experience self censorship as well. Examples of this include not publishing - or redacting - parts of a book, news story, or a movie due to political or commercial pressure. The full truth or original story is never shared with society, with you. Therefore you are not able to weigh your own opinions or actions based on all the facts and considerations, or even potential consequences. The opposite happens too, when big tech companies in the United States continue to censor despite an Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship. 

Censorship on a government level

Governments are most well known for censoring or limiting the freedom of the people. Apart from the debate on whether or not governments should limit movements and social interactions due to covid-19. Governments should be in service of all their citizens, regardless of their origins, sexual orientation, class. Their duty is to lead a country to safety, prosperity, and health, to the best of their knowledge and the common good. Not to the best of their own personal or commercial interests. 

China censorship

China is completely controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the founding and sole governing political party of the People's Republic of China. They didn’t invent censorship, but certainly aren’t shy to use it wherever possible or ‘needed’. This leads to Hong Kong no longer being a democracy, Uyghurs being detained by large numbers to ‘rehabilitate’, and Chinese citizens not being able to freely debate or express - both offline and online - their concerns regarding Xi Jinping’s arm and the CCP. 

Do your own research, start here.

China’s Global Reach: Surveillance and Censorship Beyond the Great Firewall

North Korea censorship

North Korea citizens are completely cut off from the internet we know and use in the Western world. In comparison to the censorship in North Korea, the censorship in China can be mistakenly seen as relatively small. Though the smallest form of censorship leads to greater damage, so comparisons shouldn’t be made. Living in North Korea is the worst version of Elon Musk’s simulation we all live in. History is rewritten, propaganda is the only accessible source of information, and there is no freedom of speech. 

Do your own research, start here.

Fake News in North Korea: Censorship, Propaganda, and the Rewriting of History

United States censorship

Land of the free, home of the brave. The United States of America. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the freedom of speech and expression against all levels of government censorship. Read that again, because it does not include restrictions imposed by private individuals or businesses unless they are acting on behalf of the government. In the United States, censorship is deeply anchored in constitutions. From violence in comic books to prevent children from becoming delinquents, to live censorship of the Super Bowl halftime show so we never see Janet Jackson’s right breast again. The truth is that we already live in a censored simulation far away from reality. 

Do your own research, start here.

The dangerous liberal ideas for censorship in the United States

The history and consequences of censorship in the United States

Internet censorship

The last couple of months - and for many months to come - we mostly affiliate censorship with the elections in the United States. How important that might be, censorship is not limited to elections. There is a lot more censorship hidden in smaller pains carried by individuals, that doesn’t make global headlines. Directly impacting all of us, even when an individual might think censorship doesn’t impact his or her daily life. Unlike China - where the world can simply look up a list of all the websites blocked by the great firewall - in the Western world - for the largest part - they don’t ban access to full domains. Instead, censorship happens more subtle and on a more personal level. 

Social media censorship

From global scandals where Twitter bans sharing a link to a specific news article, to more personal debacles such as deplatforming individual user accounts or entire YouTube channels. The main focus and the first thing we think of when it comes to censorship currently is politics. But ask around or look around, and everyone knows someone who either was censored recently or decided to self censor out of fear of… censorship. (or even worse) 

Facebook censorship

Do your own research, start here.

Here’s What Facebook Won’t Let You Post

YouTube censorship

Do your own research, start here.

A global look at YouTube and its censorship policies

Twitter censorship

Do your own research, start here.

Censorship Epidemic on Facebook, Google, Twitter Drives Users to Alternatives

TikTok censorship

Do your own research, start here.

TikTok Admits It Suppressed Videos by Disabled, Queer, and Fat Creators

Censorship in the entertainment industry

From publishers to media conglomerates to journalists and state television. The amount of censorship is shocking, and that is only that of what we know of. Some of the largest companies self censoring their core business, creative art and freedom of expression, include Disney and Netflix. It’s considered the most visible form of censorship, yet ironically we don’t really get to see it. 

Disney Plus Censorship

Do your own research, start here.

Disney Plus Censorship: All the Movies and TV Shows Edited and Censored on the Streaming Service

Netflix censorship

Do your own research, start here.

Here are the 9 titles Netflix purged due to government censorship

Comic books censorship

Do your own research, start here.

The insane history of how American paranoia ruined and censored comic books

Censorship by media and journalists

Do your own research, start here.

The fear factor – why journalists censor themselves

How Media Censorship Affects the News You See

Censorship driven by religious motives

In religion, we also find a combination of both censorship and self censorship. I’m definitely censoring myself in this article from depicting an image of Prophet Muhammad. Out of respect and understanding for Muslims, or out of fear of repercussions? When is censorship truly censorship, and when is it balancing between the borders of mutual respect and freedom of speech? 

Prophet Muhammad depictions

Do your own research, start here.

South Park censored after threat of fatwa over Muhammad episode

LGBTQIA+ rights

Do your own research, start here.

Religious School Censors All References To Homosexuality In Textbook

Art & Creativity

Do your own research, start here

Religious censorship crushes creativity. So is it ever right to ban art?

What are the benefits of censorship?

Under some circumstances, there are benefits to controlled censorship. From unquestioned illegal and unwanted content, to dismanteling actual terrorism communication channels. Though the danger with governments and big tech, is that they will abuse the right reasons to censor something evil, to censor something inherently not evil for their own political or commercial gains and/or protection. 

Powerful - not perfect - anti censorship applications

There is only so much we can do to protect ourselves from censorship. Bitcoin can’t be taken down, it’s decentralized and distributed across the world. But if you live in an area of Myanmar where internet access is completely cut off by the government, and you have no satellite connection, there’s nothing you can do. No way to exchange Bitcoin with your neighbours, even though Bitcoin is still running. And no way to communicate with friends and family on alternative platforms to big tech, even though those platforms aren’t really down. Still, if you had a choice today, there are reasons enough to consider alternative applications who are not controlled by governments or big tech companies. 

Decentralized video platforms 

Library and DTube are alternatives to YouTube, who’s censorship and ever growing hunger to deplatform users completely is growing by the day. 

Do your own research, start here.

Best YouTube Alternatives: The Future Decentralized Video Platforms

Alternative Social media platforms

Den is a blockchain based social media platform built on Dragonchain with diverse communities and free of traditional advertisements. The platform enables a self governing marketplace of content creators, engagers, evaluators, and consumers without exclusion by algorithms. It has powerful anti censorship capabilities, blockchain based proof reports, and modern tokenized internal economies allowing for a more equal and fair distribution of value being created. 

Do your own research, start here.

Den whitepaper

VPN services

VPN services are broadly adopted and enable internet users to browse websites without geographical, political, or commercial restrictions. 

Do your own research, start here.

Understanding and Circumventing Network Censorship

Social media is due for a change

Over the years, the music and film industry had to adapt to new technologies. Physical sales of music albums, blockbuster movies, MP3 players and dvd players decreased rapidly. Smartphones were being equipped with apps and more functionalities. Meanwhile The Pirate Bay provided a place to illegally download entertainment on demand. The industry was forced to innovate and transition into a Software as a Service subscription based model. Netflix is the most known success story, as they managed to switch from mailing physical dvds to streaming on demand on a global scale. Similarly Spotify now provides a stream (literally) of revenue for artists, as consumers can listen to songs and albums the moment they are released. 

Now we are at a crossroads where the current biggest social media platforms will be challenged. Under the influence of political power, political preferences, advertisers, and unethical algorithms people become more aware of the current flaws. It has been proven that on TikTok large parts of society have been excluded from equal participation, only based on disabilities or having a different look from the status quo. Disabled, queer or LGBTQIA+, and creators with overweight were supressed from getting the organic reach that creators without those imperfections were able to attract. 

On Facebook we have seen, and still see to this day, the extortion of people’s user data in favor of financial gain, shareholders, and advertisers. From all the established social media platforms, perhaps only YouTube comes close to ‘fairly’ financially rewarding their creators. Though the flaws with YouTube are endless too. From false copyright claims, to complete removals of entire channels based on false ‘strikes’. Creators face loss of their entire income with no way to restore the damage. And their algorithms are psychological traps. 

Reddit is too centralised, not free from censorship or a scandal or two. And so is Twitter. Prior to the US elections, Twitter managed to completely ban a mainstream news link from being shared, both in tweets and in private direct messages. The last few months exposed exactly how vulnerable we as a society are. Perhaps more than ever. 

Censorship impacts everyone

Samuel Paty, a French teacher, was decapitated in France by a radicalized Muslim, after showing a cartoon image containing prophet Mohammed during class. We are all affected by censorship, and censorship leads to extreme global political domino effects. From more terrorist attacks by copycats in Austria, to President of Turkey - Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - wanting to boycott all French products. In Pakistan, telecommunications were completely cut off for a 24-hour period, following demonstrations against France on November 15, 2020. This is weeks after the brutal murder of a French teacher, for showing a cartoon image. And this domino effect is long from being over yet. 

Internet shutdowns

The problem isn’t completely solved with decentralized alternatives to centralised platforms in the likes of YouTube, Twitter, Google, and others. The greatest threat remains governments all over the world. Happening today, much more than you realize, internet, telecommunications, power, and fuel shutdowns are used frequently. Companies in control of internet services or social media platforms really do not have a choice sometimes.

In Myanmar, over a million people are completely shut down from the internet since July 2019, putting lives at risk every day. When free access to the internet is not the everyday reality anymore, life suddenly becomes a lot harder again. A lack in professional and educational development, no current information on the covid-19 pandemic, making things harder to distribute food and medical aid to civilians displaced by the conflict, 

“Internet restrictions have killed my dream,” Nyi Htay told TIME magazine. “I don’t know how to move forward in my life.”

Do your own research, start here. 

Previously published at https://den.social/l/DragonDen/elauCZyMTL/censorship-to-one-is-censorship-to-all/

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