Like most things, it’s hard to talk about the solution if we don’t properly define the problem first. So, let’s start there. Last week, Elon Musk and Andrew Ross Sorkin conducted an hour-long interview full of awkward and strange moments. For people not familiar with the battle for free speech taking place. Please take a moment to watch this curated clip to see what I’m talking about.
What in the world is this all about? Well, as you’ll see, it’s about control, legacy string-pullers trying to maintain order, and ultimately it’s about a desire to control your free speech.
The current social media landscape is not just a battleground for public opinion but also a complex web of influence and control, where the intricate ties between government agencies, large financial institutions, and advertising interests converge to shape and manipulate public discourse.
The term “deep state” often refers to the idea of a body of people, typically influential members of government agencies who get involved in the manipulation or desire for control of government policy and shaping the public opinion. Why? So, they can retain power and control of the system. In the context of social media, this concept extends to the involvement of such agencies in indirectly shaping the narrative and controlling speech. Once Elon Musk took Twitter private, he was able to see all the correspondence and control that was being exercised between government agencies and the captured twitter executives strategically used within the organization. Click here to view the twitter files in all the gory details.
So, the next natural question is how did these people make their way into an organization like Twitter? Enter the modern day “decentralized” equity ownership of a large cap company. Where the ownership of the company’s initial founders is miniscule, and the actual control of the company falls into the hands of a couple large ETF fund owners – also known as the Too Big to Fail Banks (TBTFB). If the TBTFBs control the board, then the TBTFBs can dictate where, how, and who performs what strategic censorship task, within the communication platform. These relationships create a scenario where the concept of a “safe environment,” ostensibly meant to protect users from harmful content, is weaponized to suppress certain topics or points of view. Advertisers, under the guise of maintaining brand safety, exert pressure on social media platforms to moderate content in ways that align with these broader, often opaque, agendas. What promoters of such control are championing is a destructive weapon that serves their interests today, but that will unmistakably be turned against them once their political interests are no-longer in control or aligned. Talk about a fool’s objective.
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” -Thomas Jefferson
The Solution: A Decentralized Speech Protocol – Nostr
Nostr, an acronym for “Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays,” is a decentralized social network protocol that offers a novel approach to online communication, standing in contrast to traditional, centralized social media platforms. Its decentralized nature aims to tackle issues like censorship and control by removing the centralized authority that often dictates content moderation policies on other platforms. If you’re interested in how this is technically achieved, feel free to read this article so you can learn more.
Quickly after this new protocol was released, Jack Dorsey took an interest in the project. Dorsey, quick to put his support behind the project, donated 14 Bitcoin (245K USD at the time) to the protocol developer, Fiatjaf. In fact, his donation came after publishing a blog post talking about the need for a native internet protocol for social media. It sure makes you wonder. What was Dorsey seeing on his final days at Twitter that compelled this billionaire to pour his time and energy into this somewhat obscure, and tiny protocol project?
Shortly after numerous client interfaces with the Nostr protocol started to sprout up, Dorsey had another interesting post. He said, “Zaps represent the only fundamentally new innovation in social media. Everything else is a distraction.”
Now this is where things get really interesting. Going back to the points initially outlined. Traditional media companies – our true communications networks – are held captive to advertising revenue, which is held captive to TBTF banks, which are held captive to government agencies. But what if that model could be disrupted? Disrupted in a way where content creators, and all the people making billions of posts, directly get compensated from other users?
Similar to all technological revolutions, how do you dematerialize the large server racks, the Twitter headquarters, and take down the TBTF banking attack vector all in one? That’s right. A native payment function (called Zaps). Where, if I like someone’s post, I can casually send them 100 bitcoin satoshis (1.6 cents) by just pushing a single button that’s integrated into the person’s post.
Link to video be embedded into the article (hosted by BTCmag): https://drive.google.com/file/d/19uMMzJ1IuixjLE7i1Is0ki5meswwGfXT/view?usp=sharing
Consider the implications: a user, impressed by a post, article, or comment, can express their appreciation not just through a ‘like’ or ‘share’, but with tangible financial support. This single action, a tap on the screen, could transfer a few satoshis directly into the digital wallet of the content creator. The process doesn’t require the exchange of sensitive banking information; instead, it utilizes the power of the decentralized Bitcoin network, ensuring transactions are peer-to-peer, without the need for intermediaries.
The innovation does not stop with content monetization. Just this week, a company called Primal, introduced a iOS Nostr client that provides an interface to this free speech protocol and it also had a native Bitcoin lightning wallet all in one. This transforms the social media interface into a decentralized payment system. It transcends the boundaries of traditional financial systems, where transactions typically require third-party verification, are subject to fees, and often involve lengthy processing times. What Primal, and any other client provider could accomplish with a native bitcoin wallet, is the transfer of funds instantaneously and globally, making it a potent tool for freedom of expression and commerce. Without anyone’s permission.
Most importantly, this integration challenges the status quo of monetization on social platforms, where content creators often receive only a fraction of the revenue generated from their content (if any at all). Instead, the value is directly channeled to the creators, recognizing and rewarding them for the worth of their work. The dystopian Ai incentive to keep people scrolling withers away – especially since client providers are aggressively trying to outcompete each other for the best user experience. If you don’t like your client provider, no sweat, take your private key somewhere else and all your previous posts and content generation comes right with you.
As we consider the broader implications of such technology, it is clear that such an approach could herald a new age of digital interaction. It encapsulates the principles of decentralization, not only in communication but also in commerce. The promise of Nostr, coupled with the financial liberation offered by integrated Bitcoin lightning transactions, sets a precedent for future platforms seeking to empower users and creators alike.
“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie
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This is a guest post by Preston Pysh. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.