First, some context: over the past few days, I’ve been following the story of Dark Overlord, a hacker group that claims to have breached a law firm ('s data) handling cases related to the 9/11 attacks and publicly has been threatening to release internal files that “has many answers about the 9/11 conspiracies”. This group is financially motivated and wants Bitcoin in return to keep shut.
Bc they were banned on the two social media platforms, the hacker group then announced that they were moving to steemit.com, a website that runs on top the the Steem social blockchain. I thought ‘hey, smart move!’ bc I was under the impression that users on steemit.com could not be censored unlike centralized social networks because it runs on a public blockchain (steem). Content moderation (which is different from being banned outright) exists to an extent on steemit - users basically can get blacklisted on steemit for plagiarism and are re-instated post a successful appeal / apology OR users’ comments could get hidden (but still visible) if down-voted beyond a certain threshold.
I was however surprised when Steemit.com banned the Dark OverLord. Steemit’s FAQ does not discuss banning users and is very vague on the topic of censorship. Similar to me, a few users on reddit had the same confusion (https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/comments/adn6pt/steemit_censor_911_blackmailer/). So I decided to Trustory my own claim.
Claim: Steemit.com, which is built on the Steem social blockchain, cannot censor users similar to centralized social networks
Source: Self, Reddit thread(https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/comments/adn6pt/steemit_censor_911_blackmailer/)
My Stake: Challenge claim (100 Cred)
In summary, I was wrong It turns out that Steemit.com (which is basically the main frontend / website running on top of the Steem blockchain) can totally censor/ban users
16. Suspension or Termination of Service.
16.1. We may suspend or terminate your access to the Services in our sole discretion, immediately and without prior notice, and delete or deactivate your Account and all related information and files in such without cost to you, including, for instance, in the event that you breach any term of these Terms. In the event of termination, your access to funds will depend on your access to your backup of your Account data including your Account Name and Private Keys.
17. User Conduct
17.1. When accessing or using the Services, you agree that you will not commit any unlawful act, and that you are solely responsible for your conduct while using our Services. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, you agree that you will not:
17.1.1. Use our Services in any manner that could interfere with, disrupt, negatively affect or inhibit other users from fully enjoying our Services, or that could damage, disable, overburden or impair the functioning of our Services in any manner;
17.1.2. Use our Services to pay for, support or otherwise engage in any illegal activities, including, but not limited to illegal gambling, fraud, money- laundering, or terrorist activities.
17.1.3. Use any robot, spider, crawler, scraper or other automated means or interface not provided by us to access our Services or to extract data;
17.1.4. Use or attempt to use another user’s Wallet without authorization;
17.1.5. Attempt to circumvent any content filtering techniques we employ, or attempt to access any service or area of our Services that you are not authorized to access;
17.1.6. Introduce to the Services any virus, Trojan, worms, logic bombs or other harmful material;
17.1.7. Develop any third-party applications that interact with our Services without our prior written consent;
17.1.8. Provide false, inaccurate, or misleading information; or
17.1.9. Encourage or induce any third party to engage in any of the activities prohibited under this Section.
17.1.10. Reverse engineer any aspect of Steemit or do anything that might discover source code or bypass or circumvent measures employed to prevent or limit access to any Steemit Content, area or code of Steemit.
In other words, Steemit has full authority to ban the hacker group from their platform. Overall, a big learning for me personally is that just because social platforms run on a blockchain, they need not be decentralized themselves. FYI, there are alternative frontends that the hacker group can still use to access their stuff on the Steem blockchain (immutability ftw I guess?!)