• light
  • dark

The Free Speech Policy At Ureka.org & How Steem Helps Delivery True Freedom of Expression.

    ura soul
    The Free Speech Policy At Ureka.org & How Steem Helps Deliver True Freedom of Expression.

    Free speech is a fundamental requirement of a free, balanced and successful society. We cannot have peace without solving our collective challenges and we cannot create the needed changes if our voices cannot speak up to let our needs be understood. Allowing free will between so many people can be a tricky business, however, the best way to find balance is to ensure that no-one and no voice is being overpowered. Both the policies and the design of the Ureka system take this into consideration and I will explain how this has been done.


    Ureka uses the Steem blockchain to (optionally) both backup it's user's posts and to ensure that their freedom of speech is protected. Finding the balance needed to protect and respect every individual's rights/freedoms is not a simple task - however, we will always err on the side of supporting freedom of expression and never on the side of control/censorship/limitation.

    The Challenge of Free Speech Online

    Many people assume that if a website is based in a country that alleges to respect free speech, that they can say whatever they want and not be censored or banned. However, experience has shown that this is just not the case. Websites tend to be owned by individuals or groups who have their own rights over their own private property and the website is also part of their own private property. Free speech doesn't mean that you can walk into someone's house and say whatever you want with them having no option but to let you stay. If you say something the homeowner doesn't like, they have the right to eject you. This is the same on social networks and websites - which is part of why Google, Facebook and Twitter are so well known for effectively censoring people who they don't agree with in some way.

    In some cases, governments will get involve and demand that websites remove a person or silence them. Any of us may possibly agree with that decision or disagree with it. In many cases of online censorship, it has often been felt that such decisions are not based on whether someone's free will is being overpowered, but on some other political narrative that is out of balance. However, the fact remains that governments have a monopoly on violence and can/will use that violence to coerce website operators to do as they say. This is a huge problem for free speech and society in general. Every nation has the potential to get caught up in this as long as there is a power hierarchy and people who want to be at the top of it or who want to conceal their own crimes.

    Censorship is a double edged sword - it can simultaneously protect victims who might be emotionally traumatised by having their details publicly shared, while also protect perpetrators who seek to use their power position to hide their actions from the world. Ureka is very much aligned towards doing the best that can be done to protect victims, while also not protecting perpetrators - however, we are keenly aware that not all accusations of wrongdoing are honest themselves, so we really have a minefield to navigate here.

    The Ureka Solution

    In light of the complexities, Ureka.org has a novel solution. We allow users to publish posts with a relatively light set of policies to limit their content, but we will remove posts that violate our policies in some cases, such as when the content of a post overpowers the free will of someone else (who has perhaps requested that the content not be made public). In some cases, it may be in the public interest for content to be seen widely and in such cases, it would be down to the admins of Ureka to make a decisions as to whether to allow the content or not. Generally, no content will be removed unless it is of a truly extreme nature that is in opposition to the healing intent of Ureka.

    In cases where content breaks government rules, we may be legally pressured to remove content. In such situations, we - like most other sites - are likely to be forced to comply under threat of violence or economic attack. While we will do as much as possible to resist this and retain autonomy, we understand that it is counterproductive in many cases to try to fight, especially while we have limited resources. However, we have a backup plan for free speech here.

    Steem Is a Powerful Vehicle for Free Expression

    Steem is a decentralised, blockchain based social networking system. In every day language, this means that when you crosspost from Ureka to your account on the Steem network, your post will be stored not just in the Ureka database, but also on the Steem blockchain. Steem's database is public, transparent and maintained by numerous individuals around the world who are not contracted and not centralised or controlled. This means that even if governments compelled the operators of the Steem network to remove content, they would not be able to do so without consensus of at least 20 similar operators who are in different jurisdictions. It would take a significant effort and a lot of co-ordination from around the world to force Steem to censor content on the blockchain/database level.

    All of this means that if you crosspost from Ureka to Steem, you not only gain all the added economic benefits of doing so (such as being paid for your content in Steem tokens), but you also significantly enhance the security of your content. In the event that Ureka is shut down for some reason or compelled to delete your content, your data will live on via the Steem blockchain. Numerous sites around the world use the Steem blockchain, so your content will remain visible via numerous domains anyway. This is good for free speech and good for your own network reach too - ensuring your content reaches more eyeballs.

    There's an additional bonus here too. Since there are numerous websites publishing data/posts from the Steem blockchain, they are essentially competing with each other to provide the best service to their users and this includes having the most enlightened censorship policy. If one sight gets too heavy handed, then people will stop using it and go to a different one. This is also healthy for free speech and is really the reverse of what other social networks are known for doing. Rather than having a monopoly on social activity online, Steem promotes healthy competition that could certainly do something to ensure the needs of it's users are really met.