Censoring visibility is not removing from blockchain, my thoughts

in #palnetlast year (edited)

Photo by Jack Sanders from FreeImages


Downvotes censors from viewing, not from existing

First and foremost, this has to be said: when you downvote, you are censoring from being broadcasted &/or earning money on the given post. This doesn't, by any mean remove the post at all from the blockchain. So downvoting is not a mighty act either, the information is still there.

The good side of it

That means that you cannot entirely remove a post from existence by downvoting. Those who downvote feel like gods who have the right to distinguish the good from the bad, the spam from the non-spam, and there's a degree of "truth" in that. Indeed, they can decide that someone won't make a dime on Steemit, and won't gain great visibility if they so damn want it.

This leads to having abusers, but also people who really work on giving low visibility to bad posts. As a result, some few things who are definitely unlawful, and downright disgusting are indeed "removed" from the broader audience.

The bad side of it

This "censorship" unfortunately, is only superficially efficient. It works well to prevent making money from abusive posts, but against pedophiles, they'll still use it. Why? Because the blockchain marvelously can't forget a thing, even something this disgusting. No justice court in the world can protect a child whose photos have been taken and put on the blockchain.

This is one of the downside of having a blockchain, it is resilient against any form of censor, even in cases, it should be censored. And someone who has once written something is forbidden forever to have remorses too. The blockchain, in exchange for the liberty to say absolutely anything, also takes away another fundamental right, which is the right to forgiveness.

People, in this day and age, seems to attach much to the so-called "private data" and seem to be totally fine with the fact that "public data" is just as important too. If human being neither changed, nor made mistakes, could we still call ourselves as human beings?

Some thoughts

I think that the downvote abuse is just a tip of a much bigger iceberg, which is that you can neither be forgiven, nor be helped if you are abused on the blockchain, personal attacks will still be there, and inhumane posts will still be there. The day a nazi get enough steems to be a whale, are we sure we can be bear the consequences on the community?

Having only those in power capable of "mute-downvote" posts or shoot a post straight on the tending page is a serious risk because if the law can take down terrorists, for example, they can't take down these people's posts on the blockchain. We also have no control on a mass-scale over what's retained, and what's not.

It might not matter to you today, but if tomorrow, it's your child being kidnapped/turned into a terrorist, will you still be glad that Steem is censorship-resilient? I don't think that I could face my own kids if their picture was taken and put on such a dangerous place without a shred of ability to REMOVE a post from existence.


That's why, in my view, while steem is an extremely good platform, it still has a long way to go in terms of social awareness, and social protection of people. It's easy to feel it's someone else's problem since it's decentralized, but it's actually, in my opinion, quite the reverse: it's decentralized, so it's every user's duty to watch out that it doesn't turn into platform used by those whose intentions are nefaste and become their dens, because they usually pertains to organization who can easily pick much bigger sums to "overbuy" people, than the average lawful person.

Tell me people, what are your thoughts?

If this post is older than 7 days, please support by upvoting my latest post:

upvote latest post || view latest post


Good morning @djennyfloro

Interesting read. I absolutely agree on your view of flags and downvotes. I like that you used word "censors". Somehow many users seem to believe that steemit isn't censored.

However this is how I see downvotes - as a censorship. And the problem is that you can be censored by many different large stakeholders for many different reasons (sometimes without even warning or explanation).

Another problem I see is the fact that thanks to downvotes your pictures will be hidden (for what reason?) and then your post can be "hidden" as well from viewers. So not only rewards are being taken away, but also it affect author in many other ways.

I can only hope that there won't be many people who abuse downvotes (I just got flagged in my latest post with >600k SP). IT's hard to counter those abuses since there isn't much (nothing at all?) that could be done to stop large stake holders who are bad actors (like well known berniesanders) from abusing free downvote pool.

No justice court in the world can protect a child whose photos have been taken and put on the blockchain.

Very true. It's a real issue and I wonder if anyone could ever come up with solution.

Post resteemed. And strong upvote on the way. (please share your publication with us on project hope telegram).

Dear @crypto.piotr,
Thank you very much for the resteem, and for the answer.
Downvote hiding the pictures could be a solution in case of illicit photos, unfortunately, it's not what it's mainly used for recently.

It's a complicated isue. I particularly dislike the idea of the downvote because of all the repercussions it may have, especially for small account trying to protest big accounts' shitty content or abuse.

The idea of total freedom of speech is as dangerous as the total access to weapons. Even if it is suported in some legislation, sooner or later it calls for some restrains. Of course, it may be easier for the blockchain to implement censorship measures than for some gun control legislation to be ever efectively passed or enforced.

In any case, downvoting, as you rightly point out is not enough when it comes to fencing off really dangerous content or expressions. And here lies the danger of freedom. We asume the majority will are good or the regulators and those in a possition of power are good and work for the wellbeing of the majority; but what happens when those in the possition of power are actually evil and could not care less about the opinions of the majority?

The blockchain is not except from this dilemma and there have to be a mechanism through which small accounts can gather to effectively protect themselves and others from possible abuses from big accounts.
Knowing how polemic the whole censorship issue is, I do not expect anything to be done about it in a long time. Self-regulation may work its miracle in this platform, but it will take creativity and organization to at least neutralize offensive/dangerous content.
I like @jadams2k18's idea (assuming it may be technically viable)

Interesting your post and perhaps there could be a solution to prevent any abusive content is saved forever in the blockchain. There could be a policy that would allow auto-delete a post (using flags and downvotes) within 7 days. Obviously, for this, it is necessary to comply with a series of mechanisms that allow refuting the auto-delete process.

Well, it is simply an idea that could serve as a solution 😊

Might be something to reflect about, indeed.

Interesting post, thanks a lot

Hello @djennyfloro, very interesting approach.

Tell me people, what are your thoughts?

Wooo this issue of censorship and negative voting in the chain is something polemic and broad, as you said, there are people with resources playing to be God, thinking that they have the right to decide the good and the bad, what merits punishment and what do not.

I still think that we do not need that negative vote, however, everything is a matter of conscience, of how we use the power that gives us a lot of steempower and use it in the best way.

I think that if you get out of control you have to remove it from the chain with another hard fork.


I am unsure that a fork would be a solution, it might be difficult if we create censorship/removal in the chain through forks.

Yes, this is a real problem. I don't know how often criminals use the Steem blockchain for their terrible aims, but currently there would be no way to erase such posts completely.

Affortunately, this blockchain only saves text data, and the pictures it shows are hosted in other services, not in the blockchain itself.

If the authorities take that decision, they can force the hosting provider to erase those pictures from its servers, and in this blockchain will only appear the link to the erased material. I guess that would happen if the case is so bad to need the action of law agents.

If the problematic material is not a picture but an information... there's no solution. That text would remain there as long as the blockchain exists.

hi @spirajn

Affortunately, this blockchain only saves text data, and the pictures it shows are hosted in other services, not in the blockchain itself.

i didn't know that. Where are all those pictures being stored if not on blockchain ?

This is insane. So steem is only partly decentralized?


Exactly. It's like @djennyfloro says. If we copy the link of the picture above, we can see this:


So, when we upload a picture in Steemit, it is saved in the servers of steemitimages.com, in files.steempeak.com or any other front-end. The Steem blockchain only saves that link to the image.

Yes, it is partly decentralized. When those servers fall down, your pictures disappear.

Hi @crypto.piotr,

If you look at how it is when you insert a photo, you see that it's an external link in bb code. Where the photo is stored is clearly identified by the full link to the photo.

It's never been hidden, and as spirajn just mentionned above, it might just be a blessing in disguise in case there's problem with the photo such a pedophilia, or illegal pornography.

hello @spirajn,
Thank you for that thoughtful answer. I haven't personally seen such content on steem, however, after seeing the news on TV about a case in a forum which was taken down, I was wondering what would happen if something like that happened in Steem.

It is also a question I've had from the deputy (a member of the French parliament who is thinking about the blockchain) I met, which was wondering how to protect people in case of criminal use. And I was unable to answer him.

Oh, I've just remembered that there is, in fact, a feature by which pictures and other multimedia are stored in a blockchain, even here. First I thought that the problem you pointed out belongs to our future, but that's not true, because we already have the IPFS. It is really a "multimedia blockchain".

I vaguely remember that Busy was already using the IPFS protocol for its pictures, but certainly Dtube gives the option to upload the videos to it. I'll explore a bit more about this.

Hi @djennyfloro,

I liked your post. I think on steem everybody is responsible for his own content and even downvotes can't prevent posts to be visible everywhere. Let's say you post something on steemit and get downvoted. If you added the tag palnet you might still be visible on palnet.io even if the visibility is lost on steem.

I believe that downvoting should be used as a last ressort after having used comments first. I think that whatever you write on the internet is your responsability and I think it's impossible to apply censure everywhere. When it comes to prevent people from posting nasty stuff it should be something that is induced by our human values and if people post illegal stuff, even on steem they are not protected by the law.

Best regards,

Very good point @achim03

Downvotes will not remove our visibility on tribes.

Howdy dear friend @djennyfloro.

You are right, the information will remain in the blockchain forever. But what we look for when we make a publication is the projection and scope, these are hindered by negative votes.

Likewise every day, valuable publications are added to the blockchain of steem which never see the light due to lack of support. Great research works, beautiful poems and great works of art are hidden due to lack of expocision. But this is another trema.

Negative votes should not exist. This is a weapon of too much power which should not be in the hands of anybody.
Yes there should be some body that administers censorship following an established consensus code (for this there are smart contracts). This for nothing would be bringing us closer to centralization.

Thanks for sharing.

Your friend, Juan.

Some good points in this article.
Personally, I believe that the new downvoting system is a ripe for abuse. It can easily be used by strong forces to harm or hinder any posts or posters that they choose to hinder.
While the intention behind downvoting may have been to prevent or punish abuse, it is a system that is ripe for abuse. Let's hope it's not abused ...

I always thought that the way content never gets deleted as a good thing. If a post was really bad people won't see it, but those interested in reading it (for whatever reasons) still can.

But I never considered it to be actually used for criminal activites... Now I don't know how I feel about it. Maybe there should be a way to remove that in some future hardfork before it becomes so much of a problem that it brings the whole blockchain into danger.

wow nice lookig for photo..i like that you used word'censore' somehhow many users seem to believe that steemit isn't censored...
i like well known berniesanders from abusing free donwnvote pool.
very true.it' s a real issue and i wonder if anyone could ever come up with solution.
To support your work, I also upvoted your post!....(i like your pust)

Dear @djennyfloro
I agree with you that
"That's why, in my view, while steem is an extremely good platform, it still has a long way to go in terms of social awareness, and social protection of people."
Steem has to protect every user from bad thoughts and behaviours with big money. In steem, freedom of thought has to be protected. Otherwise only some few powerfull users will use steem in near future.

Congratulations @djennyfloro! You have completed the following achievement on the Steem blockchain and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

You distributed more than 8000 upvotes. Your next target is to reach 9000 upvotes.

You can view your badges on your Steem Board and compare to others on the Steem Ranking
If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

To support your work, I also upvoted your post!

You can upvote this notification to help all Steem users. Learn how here!

I think downvotes should not be left to the fancy of the user. The situation has much potential of bad intention. An ordinary account could be almost terminated by the accounts that have higher rep and much SP. There must a prevention.

You don't upvote my comments any longer @crypto.piotr

Posted using Partiko Android

Hello @djennyfloro, a great article with solid thoughts, but the envelope expands further. Now with tribes, the same article is published on multiple sites and I am not sure if we are talking about multiple side-chains also holding the information.. So it's a huge network now and not just the Steem blockchain.

Anyway, I don't have a solution but here's the thing, storing everything indefinitely is the flip side of the blockchain if you ask me.

Posted using Partiko Android

Hello @oivas,

As said above, the photos aren't stored in-chain, so in case of a photo, taking them down is still feasible through legal means. Text on the other side...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

You have raised a number of real and pertinent questions. People on tI think 🤔people often assume that everybody will be responsible but who are we kidding?
Because this blockchain is a work in progress post like yours are important to help sort out the issues that have not been considered ,like abuse in any form.It should not be immortalized.

However , a proper system has to be established to judge these things - it cannot be left to the whims and fancy of the powerful to censor.

Downvoting can be used to abuse people too perhaps there are good posters being sentenced without a trial or jury. A better system could be that questionable content be flagged and put up for review. What would be the measuring stick?

There must be clear guidelines or else if I don’t agree with your ideology I could downvote you and there goes freedom of expression. People need rules - if we don’t have them there will be too many blurred lines.

Dear @djennyfloro, i agree with you about downvotes and i invite you to get some bounty commenting on my latest post about it:

Hello, I've bookmarked your post, and will get to it later in the afternoon, thanks for reading!

I really admire it when people share the truth even if it hurts. I never liked the idea of downvote being given to the people especially when it also in a way gives some level of tyranny and dictatorship of early adopters of steemit. Steemit is still growing and i believe in the near future the devs would come up with a good solution because giving power to the people would always lead to some abusing it. The power has to be given to the system, platform or have a robust algorithm executing some orders. Came through because of @crypto.piotr and i am impressed with your work @djennyfloro. Please reach out to me on @hexaney on telegram and we can talk about a mutual benefit.
I love the steemit community even though i have not been active off late :( (busy with other blockchain related stuffs)
Your friend

Thank you very much for your kind words, I am not one who likes to play ostrich, and this is such an important matter that it needs being discussed and being clearly thought out.

Added you on telegram!
have a good day,

Your conclusion where I mostly ended up rethinking all you said... it's hard to find a solution alone, I would say. Through many experiments, we "community" will learn with time, bit by bit. Meanwhile, it will be unfair for many... and I think many times about what you are saying, and try to protect my own, somehow delaying their "live" explorations... kind of, letting them explore in the testnet... so to speak.

But in between all the reality you said, there is another thing messing up everything even more... which is time! Not effort time, but time of when things happen.

And blockchains where never made to be adaptable about time. They need time to work... and they can't change or work if time does not work as expected. This creates a hole huge problem... which is mostly part of what you said. Can't be changed!

But, I like to think... (and this might be a good add-on to your conclusion)

Challenges on making blockchain technology more useful for us, will drive how this will evolve. And, if today the current "specs" does not fit our "purposes"... I am sure, it will change.

I know this will happen... just like I know there are MANY blockchains, that I should not even call them "block-chains"... because effectively they are not... because, they adapted to other ideals.

Great thinking!

Thank you very much for your answer!