For those who don’t know, one of the core missions of Project Oblio is to use anonymized biometrics to dispel fake accounts from the internet. But this post isn’t about our project. All you need to know right now is that we crazy passionate about stopping the manipulation of public opinion through fake accounts and censorship.
Consensys, the blockchain company largely behind the rise of Ethereum, has been following our project for a while. They are well aware of our mission. And so, we were extraordinarily surprised when the moderators of /r/ethereum deleted our posts about the Consensys layoffs, with no explanation, and replaced them with ones with more of a “positive spin”, submitted by a Consensys marketing employee.
Here’s our thread. Tell us if you find anything wrong with it:
What got our attention was the removal of the thread here. (P.S., if you want to see some mercenary account try to put a positive spin on layoffs, the comments in that thread are golden). To see if we could replicate the removal through a more “neutral” post, we decided to submit our thread pictured above. You can find a link to it here. But if you follow that link, you’ll probably find it now it only says “[removed]”.
Normally when threads are removed by moderators on Reddit, the subtitle will say “[removed]” (like ours does) and not “[deleted]” (which means a user chose to delete it). And in the URL, if you change the “r” in reddit to a “c”, ceddit.com will be even more explicit, saying it was removed by moderators. What’s interesting is that unlike the first thread (which to a stretch, may have been argued to be a discussion about price, thereby bannable on /r/ethereum), our thread didn’t discuss the price at all. It’s still visible under our account name, which is how we provided the screenshot in the first photo. Yes, this means our thread was “shadow removed”. We had to view Reddit in an Incognito tab to even know that it was removed — no inbox mail was received.
Shortly after we noticed our post being ignored, we found this thread. As mentioned earlier, it was submitted by a member of the Consensys marketing team. That thread really isn’t a thread about layoffs, it’s a thread about Consensys CEO’s uncharacteristic, Donald Trump-esque tweetstorm in response to articles about him laying off ~13% to ~60% of his employees. Regardless, it’s pretty clear that its title was engineered to make him sound as awesome as possible.
When started pointing out the removal of our post in the comments, we weren’t surprised to find that we were slowly downvoted. After all, this is /r/ethereum. And Consensys is a rich, multi-million dollar corporation, who basically controls all of Ethereum itself. Speaking badly about them would be a bad thing to do, they have more money than us.
Wait, is that how the internet works now? The internet used to be like the real-world, where freedom-of-speech prevailed over everything. Suddenly, our comments were hidden from the default view, with no explanation from downvoters, and only comments that went along with the narrative of “layoffs are good for Ethereum” were allowed to persist. Which, by the way, doesn’t make any fucking sense.
We can’t understand why Consensys would be so blatant about their censorship. This is especially true given the history of censorship in subreddits like /r/btc and /r/bitcoin. Actually though, major censorship in cryptocurrency forums has been happening since about mid-2013, but that’s a topic for another post. It did mainly start on Reddit around the time of the launch of Ethereum, however.
The truth is, Consensys and Reddit’s inexplicable linkage doesn’t just end there. If you’re interested in reading more, see this comment chain.