Featured image of post project 「 The Truth Wins 」

project 「 The Truth Wins 」

Using cutting cutting edge technology to bypass censorship.

what - bypassing censorship with cutting edge technology

The problem - governments are demanding social networks to ban (or shadowban) certain journalists, activists, opposition politics etc. The followers of such people will need to research where to follow this person, which leads to inevitable lost of reach. To address this issue without asking for permission of neither government nor social media companies (because censorship should not thrive in our internet), a two fold solution was made as part of The Truth Wins campaign.

The first solution - initial brief idea - to hack national lotteries results and use it as a universal identificator. This identificator is used by journalists as part of their handle. As national lotteries are held on regular basis and the winning numbers can be found really easy, those numbers can be used to find all banned accounts on a social network. So governments can demand social network to ban certain people as much as they want, the banned user can just create new account and followers will find it in no time.

The second solution is even more straightforward for the end users. There are ways how you can use blockchain to bypass censorship: provide redirection to a classic domain name or store the content itself on decentralized storage. The redirection part uses blockchain-based DNS provider (ENS - ethereum name service) and the content storing part involves decentralized storage solution is for example IPFS (interplanetary file system).

Starting with redirection part. As it is hardly possible to block a blockchain-based name resolver (internet service provider would need to block all traffic to the blockchain - e.g. ethereum - network) and it is fairly easy to replace the target, this makes the URL to certain website virtually invincible. So user can just bookmark this URL and it will redirect to the currently active domain of the resource you are trying to reach. Think of the Pirate Bay torrent tracker - they are always changing domain name to avoid being blocked, but you need to search for the current name, as you bookmark won’t work.

Now to the storage part. If certain lightweight content (text with minimal images) need to be protected from censorship, it can be stored on the decentralized storage, e.g. IPFS. It needs to be lightweight because the access speed is not the fastest. Such content will profit from the similar benefits as blockchain-based domain name resolver in terms of invulnarability - in order to block such content the ISP would need to bring down all nodes serving IPFS. So in combination with a decentralized domain - it will take A LOT of efforts from IPS side to bring your website down.

While the lottery-numbers part is obviously an amazing idea, I was much more excited by the blockchain part because of the relative ease of use for the end users and scalability.

The Truth Wins is the showcase of how blockchain can go beyond speculation towards freedom of speech and truly borderless journalism.

my role

I was curating the website development as creative technologist and was in charge of the implementation of the blockchain part.

where / with whom

The project was fulfilled by Hyperinteractive Innovation Studio in collaboration with DDB agency, who delivered the initial lottery-numbers idea. The idea to add blockchain to the package was initially suggested by Saurabh Kakade, a talanted art director who worked at Hyperinteractive back then.


Spring 2022

so what?

The campaign achieved a huge reach - +150k followers on the_truth_wins accounts on twitter, large press coverage (85+ news articles), +39% donations to Reporters Without Borders non-profit organization.

I personally was instantly fascinated by the idea of the project, as I am not a fan of censorship, to say the least. I am also very fond of meaningful application of technology, so using blockchain in a not obvious way was a pure pleasure. We were happy to know, that the idea and our implementation was positively received by the international community, so we scored 24 awards, including several golden ones.

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