The blockchain-powered blogging platform Steemit is being accused of centralization and censorship. On Jan. 7, 2019, the hacker group The Dark Overlord had its account banned from Steemit by a developer known as ‘Jredbeard’ for violating the company’s terms of service agreement.
Steemit Bans 9/11 Whistleblower Account
On Dec. 21, 2018, a hacker group known as the Dark Overlords threatened to dump classified insurance files that are allegedly related to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings. The hackers told the public that the files were taken from major global insurers like Lloyds of London and Hiscox Group. The Dark Overlord’s announcement also included a demand for $2 million in bitcoins for a 10GB archive of files, according to the Pastebin post, which has since been scrubbed from the Internet. According to the publication Motherboard and a spokesperson for the law firm Hiscox Group, the files were stolen and likely did pertain to the 9/11 attacks. Since the group distributed this information across the web and made international headlines, The Dark Overlord’s social media accounts were targeted and the hacker group was deplatformed from sites like Reddit and Twitter. After the wide range of censorship, on Jan. 2 The Dark Overlord explained in another Pastebin announcement that they would be dumping the data on the Steem blockchain.
However, it seems publishing classified 9/11 data is not looked upon favorably by those who run Steemit. On Jan. 7, 2019, the Steemit Github repository shows the developer known as ‘Jredbeard’ appended the account ‘thedarkoverlord’ to the protocol’s ‘GDPRUserList.js’ section. Essentially this means the account was banned from using the website for violating Steemit’s terms of service (ToS) agreement. The action has also infuriated some members of the Steemit community as posts about the subject can be seen on the project’s Reddit page r/steemit.
One particular post exclaimed:
Steemit has censored the account of the Dark Overlords!! What was the point, Steemit?
Uncensorable Blockchain Platforms Exist
Interestingly enough, some Steemit proponents defended the action and explained how The Dark Overlord account was only banned from the official Steemit website, noting that the group’s posts could still be seen on alternative sites like Busy.org. Moreover, other cryptocurrency community members discussed other blockchain services that would help The Dark Overlord dump the data in a truly immutable fashion.
The hacker group could hypothetically utilize platforms like Memo.cash and Bitcoinfiles.com to communicate to the public and dump classified files without the risk of takedown. For instance, Memo acts like Twitter but every action is recorded into the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain. The posts cannot be taken down after they are etched into the BCH chain and one individual even started recording every verse in the King James Bible into the blockchain. Another example of a tool that could help whistleblowers is the Bitcoinfiles protocol developed by the BCH programmers James Cramer, Attila Aros, and Hapticpilot.
Bitcoinfiles is a file-sharing platform that allows anyone to upload any type of media file to both the Inter-Planetary File System (IPFS) protocol and the Bitcoin Cash blockchain. Once the files are recorded into the chain they can be shared widely and found easily using a blockchain explorer or queried on the Bitdb network. There is no developer or arbitrary individual who can delete the files once they are appended to the network and IPFS files tied to the BCH chain can be shared with anyone in the world using a simple URI.
Over the last year, deplatforming and censorship have continued to increase, but cryptocurrency and blockchain advocates believe it should not happen on their turf. It is obvious that centralized entities on the web will persist and suppress dissident voices and whistleblowers. As a result, blockchain applications that fight against this behavior will be welcomed with open arms by those who cherish the ability to speak freely.
What do you think about the hacker group The Dark Overlord being removed from the Steemit website? What media sharing platforms would you recommend that record immutable data onchain? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Images via Shutterstock, Memo.cash, Bitcoinfiles.com, and Steemit.