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2021-01-13

The fear of censorship in social media

A change in WhatsApp's terms of service has prompted a mass exodus from the messaging platform to more private and independent rivals such as Telegram and Signal, which have signed up millions of new users over the past week. 

Rather than agree to new terms outlining the app's right to share user data with Facebook, millions of WhatsApp users have simply abandoned the platform, ditching it for less intrusive competitors. Telegram alone has been downloaded 25 million times in the last 72 hours.

Some of those new registrations include refugees from the free Parler platform, looking for a way to connect and organize after the right-wing Twitter alternative was suddenly yanked offline by hosting service provider Amazon Web Services (AWS).

EOS and Bitshares co-founder Daniel Larimer recently called for a mass abandonment of the big social media platforms before Parler was acquired. He correctly predicted that this may have been the "last chance" to download certain social media applications. Larimer recently resigned as CTO of EOSIO developer Block.one, vowing to work on censorship-resistant platforms, which he believes will become increasingly important as more people are banned or suspended from traditional platforms.

Other crypto projects are wary of the centralized nature of tech giants like Amazon, and foresee problems relying on them. Decentralized liquidity network THORChain, for example, encourages nodes running its software to avoid AWS by giving them extra benefits for using alternative service providers.

Decentralized solution providers, such as the Handshake domain name server, are immune to censorship because they avoid relying on classic domain name resolution processes. Sci-Hub's pirate academic archivists switched DNS providers using Handshake, Buterin mentioned.

Censorship concerns aren't the only reason why relying on a single hosting provider puts crypto-based services at risk. In November, AWS outages affected Coinbase, causing problems with logging in and navigating user accounts.