How Bitcoin Enables Free Speech

How Bitcoin Enables Free Speech

Let's shape a society that values open dialogue, innovation, and individual empowerment

May 18


In the world of traditional social media, censorship poses a serious problem. It limits freedom of expression and stifles the exchange of diverse ideas. When subjective content rules or external pressures dictate what can be shared, it compromises open dialogue. This censorship holds back creativity, innovation, and intellectual growth by discouraging controversial opinions. It also prevents us from tackling important societal issues as certain topics become off-limits. This creates echo chambers where people only see content that aligns with the censors' narratives, hindering a well-rounded society.

"Freedom of speech is the principle pillar of a free government. When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins."  -- Benjamin Franklin

Balancing moderation and free expression is a complex challenge, but it's essential for fostering an inclusive and open digital space. Nostr tackles this problem by allowing end users to choose which content to see and which to mute. Any other existing model fails as it leaves decision making in the hands of a small group of people.

The Problem 

The issue of online censorship is twofold:

Firstly, our online interactions heavily rely on large, centralized platforms and multibillion-dollar corporations such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google. While these platforms offer avenues for communication, they also possess the authority to deem content unsuitable and ban users. Moreover, when faced with pressure from governments or other powerful entities, these corporations tend to comply, compromising freedom of expression. The inherent centralization of these platforms makes censorship inevitable, as they are vulnerable to external influence.


Secondly, even if a business genuinely desires to champion censorship resistance and defend users' freedom of expression, it requires financial sustainability. Unfortunately, the authorities can effectively shut down such platforms by pressuring banks to halt their financial services, as demonstrated by the 2011 Wikileaks blockade. This reliance on the traditional fiat system, fully controlled by governments, poses a significant challenge to establishing true online free speech. To overcome online censorship, it becomes essential to address the need for censorship-resistant money.

In essence, overcoming the challenges of online censorship necessitates the existence of a decentralized monetary system that cannot be manipulated or controlled by external authorities. Only then can we ensure genuine freedom of speech on the Internet. But how do we fuel the movement towards freedom of expression?

Unstoppable Financial Interactions

Bitcoin offers something truly remarkable: censorship-resistant transactions.

Imagine that someone wants to support your project or initiative financially. With Bitcoin, they don't need anyone's permission. Their transactions can't be stopped or reversed. They don't have to provide identification or share sensitive information with banks or other service providers. They don't even need to explain why they're making the payment. Now, let's flip the coin. As the receiver, all you need to do is download a wallet; there is no one to ask permission from or demand your ID. Once you have your wallet installed, you're ready to receive sats in exchange for the value you provide, whether it's goods, services, or even your incredible ideas.

Bitcoin's censorship-resistant nature means financial freedom. It's about cutting out the middlemen, bypassing unnecessary hurdles, and enabling direct and secure transactions. It's like running your own bank, which puts you in control of your money and empowers you to receive support for your endeavors hassle-free.

While censorship resistance may not immediately resonate with individuals in developed countries, and privacy may not be a priority for everyone, the importance of personal information security is widely recognized. Let's take a closer look at these three aspects:

Censorship Resistance: Although it may seem like a distant concern, censorship can affect anyone, regardless of their location. It restricts freedom of expression and stifles the exchange of ideas, hindering societal progress. With Bitcoin, individuals gain the power to engage in open communication and financial transactions without the fear of centralized control or interference. It provides a decentralized and secure foundation that empowers individuals to participate in free expression and overcome the barriers imposed by online censorship.

Privacy: While opinions on the significance of privacy may differ, safeguarding personal information holds undeniable value. In an interconnected world where data collection is rampant, protecting privacy allows individuals to maintain control over their personal data. It helps prevent misuse, preserves individuality, and upholds autonomy in the digital realm. Moreover, with a bit of studying, individuals can significantly enhance their financial privacy through the use of Bitcoin. By understanding and implementing privacy-enhancing techniques, individuals can safeguard their financial transactions and strengthen their overall privacy in the digital space. Bitcoin provides an opportunity for individuals to take control of their privacy and ensure that their personal information remains secure and confidential.

"In the 1990s, the Internet had yet to fall victim to the greatest iniquity in digital history: the move by both government and businesses to link, as intimately as possible, users' online personas to their offline legal identity."  -- Edward Snowden, Permanent Record

Personal Information Security: In the digital age, ensuring the security of personal information is paramount. With increasing cyber threats and data breaches, taking steps to protect our information has become essential. Prioritizing personal information security helps safeguard against identity theft, financial fraud, and other malicious activities, providing peace of mind in an ever-evolving digital landscape. Unlike traditional financial systems, Bitcoin transactions do not require individuals to disclose their personal identification. By using pseudonymous addresses and private keys, individuals have full control over their savings and can conduct transactions without the risk of exposing sensitive information. This aspect of Bitcoin empowers individuals to protect their digital identities and financial assets effectively.

Empowering Nostr: The Vital Role of Bitcoin

Nostr owes its existence to Bitcoin -- it's the foundation that allows us to address the major issue of online censorship. However, let's face the reality: passion alone cannot sustain Nostr. Developers require funds to maintain the infrastructure, cover expenses, and ensure the project's longevity. This entails running servers, investing in necessary equipment, and more. If we relied on the traditional fiat system for support, the project would face inevitable challenges.

As Nostr expands and appears on governments' radars, a potential hurdle arises. Authorities could disrupt financial inflows by instructing banks to halt transactions, effectively jeopardizing development and infrastructure. This is precisely why achieving censorship-resistant communications online was implausible before the emergence of Bitcoin.

"The emergence of censorship-resistant money like Bitcoin is a game-changer for enabling free expression and overcoming online censorship. It provides a decentralized and secure foundation that empowers individuals to participate in open communication without the fear of centralized control."  -- Andreas Antonopoulos

All human interaction can be defined as trade and money plays a pivotal role in almost every transaction worldwide. If money can be subjected to censorship, it impedes trade itself. Hence, censorship-resistant money like bitcoin becomes imperative. Without it, constructing communication protocols that can resist censorship would be unattainable.

Lightning-Fast Flexibility 

Bitcoin serves as a robust foundation, revolutionizing financial interactions by eliminating the need for intermediaries. As Nic Szabo eloquently described in his "Trusted Third Parties are Security Holes" article, the removal of mediators is crucial. However, Bitcoin's base layer, while powerful, has limitations in terms of flexibility and speed. Nevertheless, considering the time it takes to move physical assets or complete interbank settlements, Bitcoin's 10-minute transaction finalization seems quite reasonable. Yet, for micropayments and everyday purchases like getting a cup of coffee or accessing a paywalled article, it falls short. This is where Lightning Network shines. It enhances the base layer, enabling high-speed, low-fee transactions and bolstering user privacy. Thanks to Lightning, Nostr developers seamlessly integrated bitcoin as the native currency of this free and open communications protocol. Lightning makes financial interactions within Nostr-based apps occur so effortlessly, that it almost feels like magic.

"Technology is a marvelous thing. We are so quick to accept things as they stand, rarely taking the time to reflect on how magical these modern miracles are in actuality. Much of what we take for granted today would be indistinguishable from magic to anyone living just a couple of generations ago." -- , 21 Ways

In addition to its speed, cost-effectiveness, and privacy enhancements, Lightning's flexibility shapes the way we interact. A prime example is the introduction of zaps within Nostr -- a native means for users to appreciate each other's thoughts and actions. Think of it this way: while likes can be easily manipulated through fake accounts, zaps hold actual value as they represent genuine appreciation in monetary terms.

scarlett Source: A Vision for a Value-Enabled Web

Nostr harnesses the true potential of Bitcoin, creating a seamless environment for financial interactions that empowers individuals while fostering genuine appreciation and value within the community.

The Perfect Foundation

Open protocols serve as the antidote to the societal challenges we face -- an incessant grip from elites through closed systems that only enrich power-hungry politicians, monopolists, and non-government organizations. Entities like the IMF and WEF claim to be saviors while draining value from impoverished nations. In this landscape, open-source software becomes the gateway to self-sovereignty for anyone armed with a cheap smartphone and internet access.

Bitcoin, acting as a foundational layer, plays a crucial role in enabling the development of a truly free society. Its versatility allows anyone to incorporate it into their products and build upon it. And here's where Nostr comes in as a remarkable addition. Being an open and censorship-resistant communications protocol, Nostr seamlessly integrates with Bitcoin, enhancing its capability to empower individuals. With Nostr, people can now not only transact freely with Bitcoin but also communicate openly, free from the grip of centralized platforms and the censorship they impose.

To liberate themselves from the constraints imposed by traditional systems, it is imperative for individuals to educate themselves on this powerful technology -- the embodiment of honest money. By embracing Bitcoin and Nostr, individuals can reclaim control over their financial transactions and their communications, paving the way for a more liberated and self-determined future.

Bitcoin, coupled with Nostr, offers a transformative solution to the problem of online censorship. By leveraging the power of truly decentralized and censorship-resistant systems, we can create a future where freedom of expression, privacy, and financial sovereignty are upheld. Let's embrace this opportunity to shape a society that values open dialogue, innovation, individual empowerment, and self-sovereignty.