What Internet Censorship Feels Like

tl;dr: a visit to Turkey reminds me of just how important open platforms are.

One of the mantras of the crypto world is “censorship-resistant.”

For many people who live in advanced industrial economies, this doesn’t feel like a “thing.”

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Though there are things that our ISPs, search engines, and websites “censor” from us, it’s at the edges and not a part of daily life.

What is interesting, however, is when you go to a place where the restrictions are tighter.

A few weeks ago, I was in Turkey.

Sitting in a nice hotel room in Göcek, Turkey, I was inspired to write a blog post.

Some days are better than others, but I like to augment my posts with links, providing a path for future exploration as well as check my own tendencies to exaggerate.

I went to Wikipedia to do a search.

Well, I should say that I tried to go to Wikipedia to do a search, but I couldn’t.

I had heard this and forgotten it, but Wikipedia was blocked in Turkey in October, 2017.

Nothing.

You can’t access it or read it.

Traffic to the site from Turkey dropped 80% overnight (not sure why it wasn’t 100%, but I’m sure there are some reasons).

The point is: it’s censorship.

Now, 2 years later, it’s as if Wikipedia doesn’t exist for Turks and they are cut off from this knowledge and from one thing that is as close to a shared source of truth of information as we have (and it’s not perfect, which is the heart of the dispute).

Anyway, it was the kind of experience that made me grateful for open platforms.

And it was the kind of moment that reminded me why a decentralized Internet, not controlled by a few companies or a few government censors is critical. Heck, it may even be a human right.

I realize it can get nasty the other way (4chan and 8 chan being good examples) as well.

Still, free speech and censorship seem to be at odds with each other and I think free societies have to lean more towards the speech side.

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