Recent widespread video removals have crypto Youtubers searching for greener and more dependable pastures for content production. While reports have since emerged of Youtube claiming the incident was an accident, and that videos are now being restored, the “Christmas Crypto purge” of 2019 has nonetheless burnt an indelible memory into the minds of dedicated Youtubers. Many are now looking to back up their content or even migrate elsewhere, and suggesting more decentralized and censorship-resistant platforms for video sharing.
What Really Happened
From claims of centralized, anti-crypto motivations on Youtube’s part and bot attacks, to anti-racist groups waging war on a perceived lack of multiculturalism in crypto, theories surrounding Youtube’s recent spate of video removals, strikes and bans vary wildly. Some have suggested that channels posting external links are the main sufferers. Others say the removals were a precaution against crypto-jacking malware.
A recent report has emerged of the site claiming the removals were an accident and that content has since been restored. However, major channels like Ivan on Tech still seem to be in the dark about the issue. Whatever the case may be, the incident has now incapacitated many high-subscriber, prominent content creators in the crypto space and is sending a shockwave through the community, leading some to suggest migration and adoption of other platforms. This post aims to detail some of the most commonly suggested alternatives, as well as nascent sites seeking to provide greater freedom from Youtube policy to content creators.
Censorship-Resistant Video Sharing
Back in August news.Bitcoin.com detailed some crypto-powered video sharing platforms in the wake of earlier incidents of censorship and channel deletions, and also published a list of crypto social media platforms. This time around, along with classic suggestions some new platforms and protocols are emerging, and deserve a look.
P2P video sharing platform Bitchute has been around since 2017 and claims to provide greater censorship resistance through the use of webtorrent technology, though the practical reality of this claim has been challenged. Regarding monetization, the website states: “Rather than forcing creators to collect their tips and pledges solely through the BitChute platform, we are instead taking the approach of providing the facilities required for creators to link their content to the payment processors of their choice.” The site came onto the radar of many in the crypto space when popular right-libertarian conspiracy channel Infowars migrated after being censored by Youtube in August 2018.
Another webtorrent-powered P2P sharing system, and one still in early beta according to its website, Bittubers claims it “emphasizes free speech, fairness and unrestricted monetization across the board,” and notes “This platform is the successor to bit.tube, launched in mid 2018.” Bittubers also claims it does not seek to compete with other platforms, but uses its own app to build parallel integration systems which can monetize cross-posted content outside the purview of Youtube and others. Bittubers promises “no economic censorship” and also has its own associated crypto, TUBE.
Similar to Bittubers’ parallel monetization ecosystem approach, BCH-based Cinema.cash offers an open platform for uploaders to post videos via Youtube link, and receive tips or set a paywall for their content. While this doesn’t address the issue of delistings by Youtube, and the site is currently not very active, it does provide a potential means by which to evade YT demonetization.
Steemit-associated Dtube (warning: some Dtube thumbnail images may be NSFW) claims to be “the first crypto-decentralized video platform, built on top of the STEEM Blockchain and the IPFS peer-to-peer network.” The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) and Steem blockchain are leveraged so that “D.Tube is not able to censor videos, nor enforce guidelines.” Rewards and monetization are made possible via Steem, Dtube Coin, and others. While still growing and viewed as very promising by many, periodic issues with the IPFS protocol struggling to accommodate user requests has been noted.
Dlive is a former Steem-based platform that now operates on the Lino blockchain and has become a hub especially for gamers and live streamers. The platform boasts that unlike other comparable companies, it does not take any cuts from user rewards. “When you stream on DLive, the platform doesn’t take any of your earnings … 90.1% of each subscription and gift in Lemon [in-app digital asset] will go to your wallet directly, and 9.9% will go to a pool that rewards people with LINO Stake for their contributions to the network on a daily basis,” the website states.
Flote is a centralized, crypto-friendly alternative which presents a Facebook-meets-Patreon like UI and claims to be a “Community-driven social network focused on user privacy & monetization. No algos, no spying, no fees, no problem.” Flote is working on incorporating direct live streaming, but for now users need to use software such as OBS to livestream. Flote supports “.mp3 audio, .mp4 video, and .jpeg, .png, and .gif images” for upload. It should be noted that while Flote is associated with pro-privacy and free speech values, and presents many interesting features such as a no algorithm, chronological timeline, monetization of tiered content and bitcoin subscriptions, the site is not decentralized, and the integrated bitcoin wallet is custodial.
Bitchute is centralized but very pro free-speech and anti censorship and I love it, lbry is decentralized, flote is centralized but also very pro free speech, steem is decentralized but https://t.co/G48flHVwZ1 is a centralized platform based on steem, I use all of these things
— Naomi Brockwell (@naomibrockwell) December 25, 2019
There is much buzz surrounding emergent sharing protocol and blockchain Lbry recently. Lbry features its own distributed ledger and coin, LBC, decentralizing the sharing process by allowing a network of users to pay content owners for digital signatures which give access to desired content. The downloadable protocol, like others mentioned above, provides opportunity for parallel incentivization of content posted on various websites. “The blockchain records everything that is published to LBRY, so interesting content is easy to find and infringing content is difficult to hide,” Lbry notes. “Accessing the blockchain data is free, the costs for downloading content are transparent, and publishers earn 100% of the price they set.”
Rounding out the list of Youtube alternatives is Peertube. Unique in its approach, Peertube leverages groups or “federations” of content sharers agreeing on rules and governance and “is not meant to become a huge platform that would centralize videos from all around the world. Rather, it is a network of inter-connected small videos hosters.” Peertube maintains: “Anyone with a modicum of technical skills can host a Peertube server, aka an instance. Each instance hosts its users and their videos. In this way, every instance is created, moderated and maintained independently by various administrators.” Like Bitchute and Bittubers, Peertube utilizes webtorrent technology.
The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall
Other notable protocols and platforms not explored in this post include Steemit, Verasity, and the Dissenter browser. The number of nascent and emerging censorship-resistant platforms seems to grow by the day. Now that the blockchain and crypto cat is far out of the bag, it’s hard to imagine “too-big-to-fail” platforms like Google’s Youtube and others will be able to continue altering their user experience for the worse much longer, without experiencing increasingly unfavorable consequence.
Still, behemoths like Youtube have influence and resources that are hard to overstate and hard to match. In order for a truly competitive system to emerge it seems dedicated users of these platforms are going to have to grow even more disillusioned, disrupting the gargantuan momentum of the network effect. Alternative options are also going to have to become much more fine-tuned, user friendly, and financially enticing, if the increasingly antiquated dinosaur of centrally managed and censored content is to ever topple.
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What’s your favorite Youtube alternative? Do you think Youtube is too big to fail? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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