Social networks are everywhere. Almost everyone has at least one account on a social networking platform today. The most popular are Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.
Because of their popularity, but especially because of their infrastructures, these platforms have considerable power over the population.
For example, you can see in the beginning of 2021 that Twitter or Facebook have the power to ban from their platforms the President of the United States at the time, known as Donald Trump.
I'm not going to waste time judging here whether or not these platforms did the right thing by taking down Donald Trump. On the other hand, it shows that no one is truly safe from the will of these platforms.
Centralization gives full power to social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook
The reason these platforms have so much power over users is because their systems are centralized.
You decide to connect to Twitter from your smartphone or computer. The Twitter app or your browser will launch a web request to Twitter's servers. This server is nothing more than a computer whose job is to manage websites.
Once the request is received, the server executes some computer code to perform various checks. Most important to what we are interested in here is that it will verify your identity as a user of the platform. If you have the right to access the content of the platform, then the server will send you data back, which will then be displayed on your smartphone or web browser.
This is the classic operation of a client-server type of computer architecture:
You are the client and Twitter acts as the server. In the case of Twitter, the number of servers is important to be able to respond to all the requests of millions of users. However, Twitter controls all servers. De facto, Twitter has all the power to ban any user from its platform.
This problem of centralization goes beyond social networks
I used Twitter as an example, but the same goes for Facebook and all the other ultra-popular social media that hundreds of millions of people use every day.
When you get banned, you have no recourse. You probably already know someone who has fallen victim to this omnipotence of these companies.
I used the example of social media here because it's something that speaks to everyone. The same is happening with the current monetary and financial system. The system is completely centralized. It is in the hands of central bankers and governments.
So your money that is in the banking world can be taken from you at any time. Your transactions can be censored if those powerful people who run this system decide to do so for completely random reasons.
It's your money, but it's locked up in this system over which you have no control.
Millions of people around the world suffer from financial censorship
This power of censorship over money endangers hundreds of millions of people around the world. In Western countries, you may feel safer than people living in emerging countries or under authoritarian regimes, but the risk is the same.
To break free from this financial censorship, you need to change your paradigm. This means moving to a decentralized, permissionless system.
How do these two basic properties of the Bitcoin system protect you?
The Bitcoin system also uses servers like the banking system or the systems of platforms like Twitter or Facebook. These servers are called nodes in the Bitcoin world. These nodes are continuously running the Bitcoin source code around the world.
The difference here is that these nodes are not owned by a single object. Even better, you can and should start your own node on the Bitcoin network. All you need is a modern computer and a decent internet connection.
After a few days of initial synchronization for your node to get the history of all transactions in the Bitcoin blockchain, you can be an active node in the Bitcoin network.
You don't need permission for this. Anyone can do it. This is a major difference.
Bitcoin solves this problem by decentralizing its network to protect its users
When you send a transaction to the network, the Bitcoin Node software searches for nodes on the network around the world to connect to. When the transaction reaches the first node in the network, that node will propagate it to all nodes to which it is connected. And so on.
Eventually, your transaction will be propagated throughout the Bitcoin network:
Architecture of P2P on the Internet - @ssaurel
The fact that there is no central authority ensures that you cannot be banned from the network, as is the case with the systems mentioned above. Starting your own node on the network allows you to have that guaranteed access to the network when you make your transaction.
However, even without starting your own node on the Bitcoin network, you cannot be banned from the Bitcoin network.
For someone to be banned, the majority of the thousands of nodes on the network would have to decide to change their software to block you. As a reminder, most of these nodes have not upgraded their software for several years now. Some even operate on the dark web.
No one will listen to you if you try to convince them to block a certain person.
Bitcoin protects you from this censorship that is becoming a constant threat on the Internet. By protecting you from financial censorship, Bitcoin gives you access to freedom. You can now choose to live your life on your terms without fear for the fruits of your labor.
Beyond Bitcoin, the goal in the coming years will be to see the emergence of decentralized social networking platforms that will rival Twitter and Facebook in terms of popularity to ensure true freedom of expression for the greatest number of people.