How Can Steem Deal with Child Pornography?

in #steemit6 years ago (edited)


Social media on the blockchain is a powerful thing.

Many people have been drawn to Steemit and other Steem-based platforms because of the lack of censorship. "Lack of" may be too weak a term. It is literally impossible for content to be censored on the Steem blockchain.

It was built that way. A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger. Everything you post on the Steem blockchain is stored in the ledger... forever.

While there is no centralized authority on the platform, the community can censor content (in a way). By flagging content, we can decrease the visibility of a post. If a user's posts are flagged enough, that user will have a hard time making any visible posts. As a community, we can police the content of Steemit. But we can't remove anything.

This brings me to the question asked in the title of this post:

How Can Steem Deal with Child Pornography?

You can substitute any sort of unsavoury or downright evil content into that question.

Perhaps the question could be rephrased like this:

How do we deal with horrific content on a platform that, by design, cannot censor anything?

With hundreds of thousands of registered accounts, I'm sure that something horrifying has been posted on Steemit. I don't want to search for it and find out...

How can we deal with it? We can flag it to make it essentially invisible and powerless on the platform. But the actions we can take only affect its visibility, and visibility restrictions can be bypassed by the click of a button. The content will always be on the Steem blockchain. Forever.

So how can we deal with this? I don't have an answer. I don't know if there is an answer. I simply want to ask the question and see what the community thinks.

Perhaps my understanding of the system is lacking and there is a real solution. I'd be happy to find out.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments.



I believe the witnesses can edit the blockchain, but only by consensus.
They could choose a list of unsavoury posts, and all agree to delete them from their own copies of the chain.

I didn't know that was possible. If so does that not make them all liable if there was ever a class action lawsuit?

In what jurisdiction? How would you even find them all, behind VPNs etc?

Good point, I suppose laws will have a lot of catching up to do regarding blockchain.

The law is powerless. That's the point, and it's beautiful :)

I think that only text is stored on the Steem block chain. As I understand it, the images are stored on AWS cloud servers, so they can be taken down. Steem's main areas of concern are probably copyright violations and doxing. (It is possible to encode binary images in text, but post size limits probably constrain the harm from that vector)

I think sites that use chains like IPFS or LBRY for hosting binary files (such as DTube) have more of a concern with things like child and non-consensual porn or other undesirable graphical content.

I wrote about this in Block chain is fundamentally and irreversibly changing intellectual property and online privacy. It's a consequence of immutability, and I think the same issue applies on pretty-much all block chains to some degree or other.

I hate to throw this out there but you can store ANYTHING in the blockchain if you know how.. there is a "custom_json" tx you can submit any amount up to your bandwidth and using base64 encode anything binary, even videos or software onto the blockchain... I won't disclose exactly how to do it but anyone with even 1 year of programming skill could do this..

@bigdeej good and very important point

We can contact proper authorities to have the person dealt with legally. Hopefully that sort of evil will never come to steemit.
People who partake in that should, in my view, be executed. There is no cure for that sickness.
Children must be protected.

While this answer may be valid, my question is more about the tech side of the issue. On a platform where censorship is impossible, that horrible content will always be there on the blockchain. Is there an answer to that problem?

Thanks for commenting.

the only answer is to censor this things on the platforms, i dont think its possible to remove them 100% from the blockchain

I read the article on Gizmodo about new findings. It is a useless case of maligning blockchain technology. Nonetheless, Steem needs to act fast and prevent any illegal data storage on the blockchain.

I haven't seen that article. Can you link it here?

Let it be may be. Useless to scare people without any substance.

I haven't find any of them yet. Hopely won't be. But i do find some NSFW videos taken from web elsewhere and posted here. Yes we can flag them into the invisible, but they can do it again and again.

I think it is up to use the majority of the user to take them down, because i don'yt think people will agree with that "cencorship" term.

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Is like saying, how we can make this super uncrackable except when I lost my password and I try to recover the content. If its uncensorable is uncensorable. If you want to censor content, then go to facebook.

We can't. Removing that kind of content from the Steem blockchain would mean censoring it which, even if it's for a good reason, is something Steem is designed to not let happen. You are right, content can't be censored and I believe it's better that way. Of course, it has its downsides (child pornography, murder videos, etc...) but ultimately it's not the Steem blockchain that has to deal with them but the websites that interact with it. I saw in the comments that witnesses could edit the blockchain by consensus, if that's true, I don't like it. It's an open door to censorship.

Agreed this is a huge concern and something that we have to police as a community. There is little we can do other than witnesses agreeing to hard fork each time.. There would need to be a protocol in place to "drop" txs from the chain. But then that would open up censorship. It is very tricky I agree!

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