• paragism

Why Web 3 should be blockchain based to ensure free speech!

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

After 9/11 attack, George Bush said “you are either with us or against us”. Mr. Bush was talking about terrorism. Similar phrases with different variations are often used in different political environments and these simply put a dead end to the thought process. The implied consequence is that if I’m not in your team, I’m deemed to be your enemy. Can I have a middle path? Can I be neutral? Can I opine differently on the topic? I can do obviously but the informal fallacy of the statement does not allow me to form any argument. Mussolini also used to declare in his speeches across fascist Italy, “O con noi o contro di noi (means you are either with us or against us)". Neither Bush nor Mussolini used the words for speech acts only. If you dig deep, you’ll find extreme intolerance towards any other kind of idea, stand and freedom of speech.

When did the concept of free speech emerge? Free speech might have existed in different form since time immemorial but the ancient Greeks were arguably pioneers of free speech. The Greek culture explored human experience, freedom of expression and debates. The journey of mankind is amazingly humorous. In today’s contemporary society, we’re still debating about freedom of speech. The basic idea of free speech was to express opinions without government or central authority restraints. Free speech is a fundamental democratic ideal although everywhere it is bound by legal framework. Law of the land basically decides what free speech is and what’s not.

Italian astronomer Galileo was hounded by Catholic Church for almost two decades for expressing the idea of heliocentric solar system nearly four centuries ago. His book was banned and he was imprisoned. During the time of Socrates, Hyptia of Alexandria, daughter of the philosopher Theon, was killed by a Christian angry mob as she interfered with a religious dispute. It is a bit easy to opine nowadays without being beaten by an angry mob or being imprisoned in many parts of the planet. The way we opine, has changed also. In our ever evolving society, we have an ‘internet life’ now. Internet has become our voice and social media is the medium of expression. Opinion spreads with the click of a button and conflicts emerge instantly.

Technology has certainly given us the right to speak more freely. We can communicate by video, audio, pictures and reach far more people than any formal media now if the content is found relevant by the people. But is the internet negotiating with our freedom to speak? Problem is that internet itself is a censored medium. The countries like China has successfully prevented its citizens to receive democratic material on the internet. Majority governments keep on blocking certain sites and thus put a limit to free speech. Many corporate internet giants have also taken the responsibility to censor contents. There is no international law regarding censorship and internet usage. Internet was supposed to be a spontaneously unregulated platform but the big business houses captured it and colonized internet. Money is honey and in the today’s era, money grows in the internet. Internet is powerful and definitely the most sought after platform for the power mongers. If internet can be controlled, immense power can be accumulated. The big corporations are systematically doing this as internet is a marketplace for them. The censorship tools are becoming more sophisticated day by day. In 2012, we saw innovative form of censorship when credit card companies like Visa, MasterCard and American Express blocked donations to Wikileaks by online payment through credit card.

The centralized businesses run like this only and they’ll keep on doing this. We keep on hearing about the cases where Twitter, YouTube and Facebook ban user accounts randomly because they simply don’t like the contents. The success of Web 2 came through user generated contents and participatory culture. But Web 2 also exposed us to the extreme vulnerability of censorship. Most probably this is the right time for the next big internet wave. The decentralized, community driven, censorship resistant platforms are already existent. Isn’t it the right time to embrace them with open heart? Yes the technology is new. Often immediate problem solutions aren’t available. Online trolls will exist there also (we have forgotten that the word ‘troll’ originated from folklore). Once you opine, these trolls will also execute their own right to speak freely. Often the biggest threat to free speech is not the state or central authority, but the ‘social tyranny’ of my fellow citizens. The scope of online social despotism is very vast and even Web 3 can’t eliminate them totally. Hey, even the earth can’t be flattened! We need to start somewhere to witness our ultimate civil liberation by decentralizing internet platforms. The value of internet space should be created by the people who arrive there, and not by the 'real estate value' of the digital space. Censorship is often used as an excuse for ensuring safety in the online space. Yes, we need safety but not a ‘safe heaven’. Safety can be created mutually in Web 3 easily if we define what safety is. It took 10 years for transition from Web 1 to Web 2 and it is expected to take some more time for Web 3. Web 3 isn't defined properly yet. Is it going be blockchain based? Decentralized internet is possible over blockchain only! 

Most probably freedom is the most powerful gift received by the mankind. Let’s celebrate the virtues of freedom and independence of will. The most courageous act of humanity will be to unlock our expressions. Yes, freedom won’t be worth having if we don’t make mistakes but the mistakes will pave our path to success. We need to get rid of the fear that in absence of a central censorship framework, there will be chaos. Even if chaos happen for a time being, let it happen! Won’t censorship and concentrated power retaliate while we break the border? Yes, they’ll do but freedom lies in being bold, otherwise the obituary of humanity will be written.