In Shanghai, censorship is combated with NFT

Although they’ve been on everyone’s lips for over a year, NFTs remain somewhat mysterious (digital) objects, for which we don’t yet understand what to do. Since there is an intersection between a work of art and an instrument of financial speculation, some experts have identified it as “Solutions in search of a problem‘, which highlights how we have barely scratched the surface of this technology.

Here the citizens of Shanghai this problem They may have found it: for weeks in fact, the city’s residents have been circumventing the central government’s strict oversight by publishing, in the form of an NFT, various testimonies of the extremely severe lockdown that since March has brought 25 million Shanghai people to their knees, thus finding a way to connect and society in an unfavorable situation. sustainable. They all benefit from the properties of the blockchain, which bypasses Beijing’s control and allows published content to remain visible (and shareable) to everyone forever.

Unable to leave their homes since last month, millions of Chinese initially used state social media to post testimonies and criticize the government’s severely restrictive measures. However, the massive increase in this type of content immediately put the state censors on alert, which intervened extensively on the Weibo social network, the most prevalent in China, removing or blocking all content related to the ongoing shutdown. Shanghai. In particular, the hashtag “shopping for food in Shanghai”, which residents use to share information about the city’s food crisis, has been banned. Something has come down to us, like the video of the old man mistakenly believed to be dead and taken to the morgue, but the slice of testimony and content that goes through the Great Firewall network is minuscule. At least for now.

It all started on April 22, when an anti-lockdown video was called April’s voice It has been blocked from all Chinese platforms. The next day, a Shanghai native like ImFong decided to “squeeze” the NFT of the video in question and make it available on the OpenSea market: “The metadata has been frozen on the blockchain and now this video will live forever on the Internet.” The user wrote on Twitter.

Since that time, many have followed the example of ImFong, crafting the irreplaceable symbols related to the Shanghai lockdown: anti-propaganda satire, deserted cityscapes, social conversations and even scenes from everyday life turned OpenSea into something exotic. Halfway between a virtual bulletin board (and thus a social network) and a real marketplace. According to the newspaper morning star south chinaJust two days after ImFong’s Nft, there were already 786 articles on the Shanghai platform.

The fact that this “Nft Memories” is not yet another speculative bubble is attested by the fact that almost no one buys it: among the hundreds of NFT minted, very few have bids to buy, and when it does it is for very low prices: at the time The current, work found looking for “lockdown Shanghai” that sold for the highest price is the Memories Building, which sold for less than $30.

So, a real popular rebellion, conducted with innovative and unusual weapons of the blockchain. “Shanghai’s lockdown is unlike any other in the world,” reads the statement’s description of one of the available kits. “Residents here are not allowed to leave their apartment doors unless they have to scan the public areas of the apartment complex. To paint a more specific picture: no gym, shopping, dog-walking, nonessential medical services. A sleepless city of 25 million people suddenly became eerily silent, interrupted only by the occasional noise of motorbikes and trucks carrying essential supplies, or the sirens of ambulances taking people to hospitals. In this miserable mass, residents rushed to social media to gather help, complaints and more. But the censors are ready to move. This NFT collection is both a challenge and a reminder of the inspiring efforts of those involved in China’s ridiculous zero-Covid policy.”

It is not clear how the Beijing government will respond to this particular protest. Although China has banned any cryptocurrency trading activity, blockchain is seen as a promising technology and NFTs are gaining ground at various levels in the country’s upper echelons: recently, some government media published kits, and even since then. Technology including Ant Group and Tencent have expressed their willingness to use this type of tool.

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