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China’s activists use NFTs, a decentralized technology, to challenge censorship

China's activists use NFTs, a decentralized technology, to challenge censorship

A large number of people are minting NFTs and publishing articles on Matters, a decentralized content-sharing site, in the midst of widespread political rallies against Covid-19 lockdowns.

Chinese activists are using NFTs and decentralized technology to capture and archive the recent protests against Beijing’s zero-Covid lockdown policies, which erupted in multiple towns and universities and developed into criticism of communist party control and leader Xi Jinping.

Protesters are uploading articles and photographs to Matters, a decentralized content-sharing network registered in the United States and constructed with the Interplanetary File System, or IPFS, nicknamed the Airbnb of cloud data storage.

Annie Zhang, the founder and CEO of Matters, told Forkast, “When you’re at a place where information is censored, you’d naturally want to archive and back up content.”

n apartment fire on November 24 in Urumqi, China’s Xinjiang region, killed up to ten people, leading to charges that Covid lockdowns prevented people from evacuating the building.

According to a popular Matters post, “Those who stood up were heartbroken not only because ‘some residents do not have the ability to save themselves.’ They also became aware of a fact that they’d ignored all along: when we repeatedly back down, sooner or later it’d be your turn to fall off the cliff.”

On OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, there are also NFT collections related to protests.

Both “Silent Speech” and “Blank Paper Movement” were developed with images from the protests. Silent Speech is a collection of 137 NFTs, whereas Blank Paper Movement is a collection of 36 stylized images inspired by protesters who brandished blank sheets of paper to symbolize the repression of free speech.

Antidote to censorship

The initial focus of the demonstrations was the country’s zero-Covid policy, which can result in citywide lockdowns and quarantines even if only isolated cases are found. However, the demonstrations swiftly moved to a direct denunciation of the ruling Communist Party. Such actions may result in arbitrary arrest and jail in China.

Videos and images of the protests circulated on the Chinese internet, which is cut off from the rest of the world by the Great Firewall erected by the Chinese government. The video and photographs were quickly removed by censors.

“Some posts related to protests were taken down within minutes they were published,” Zhang said.

Due to the immutability of the decentralized technology and the fact that the information does not live on a single server, decentralized content platforms, such as Matters, can be utilized to combat censorship.

As of Wednesday, a multitude of protest-related articles were posted and trending on the Matters site.

An article published on Sunday showed WeChat photographs of street footage from hundreds of institutions across the nation.

About Nicolle

She is an Indian Freelance writer. She loves thinking, learning, and writing about all things Web3.

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