A change in WhatsApp’s Terms of Service has sparked a mass exodus from the messaging platform to more private and independent competitors like Telegram and Signal, which have registered millions of new users in the past week.
Rather than agreeing to new terms that determine the app’s right to share user data with Facebook, millions of WhatsApp users simply gave up using the platform and gave up on less intrusive competitors. The telegram alone has been downloaded 25 million times in the last 72 hours.
The telegram has exceeded 500 million active users. There have been 25 million new users in the last 72 hours: 38% from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America and 8% from MENA. https://t.co/1LptHZb9PQ
– Telegram Messenger (@telegram) January 12, 2021
Some of these new registrations include refugees from the Parler free speech platform looking for a way to connect and organize after the right-wing Twitter alternative suddenly went offline from hosting provider Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Lots of people on Parler joined Telegram when it was banned by Apple and others.
That’s not to say that this makes up the 25 million, but there has certainly been a major shift on Telegram. https://t.co/Taxow05M9W
– Yashar Ali (@yashar) January 12, 2021
The ability of web hosting giants like AWS to unilaterally close websites and infrastructure has worried some in the cryptocurrency industry for the future health of blockchain projects.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin described Parler’s abolition as “very worrying” in a series of tweets, noting that AWS was much more of a “shared infrastructure provider” than a social media site. Buterin also expressed a degree of dismay at Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump from its platform:
“The fact that so many people who would normally never support corporate power like this are now cheering tech CEOs who defy democratically elected officials deserves some introspection …”
Switch Infura and AWS offline and see how decentralized ETH is.
– Stephen Cole (@sthenc) January 12, 2021
It is estimated that around 60% of Ethereum nodes have run on AWS in the past.
Daniel Larimer, co-founder of EOS and Bitshares, recently called for the bulk abandonment of major social media platforms before Parler was phased out. He correctly predicted that this might be your “last chance” to download certain social media apps. Larimer recently resigned from his position as CTO at EOSIO developers block.one and pledged to work on censorship-resistant platforms that he believes will become increasingly important as more people are excluded or suspended from traditional platforms.
Other crypto projects are aware of the centralization of technology giants like Amazon and anticipate problems that rely on them. For example, the THORChain decentralized liquidity network incentivizes nodes running its software to avoid AWS by giving them additional perks for using alternative service providers.
Thorchain continues to decentralize.
Thornodes are being incentivized not to use AWS due to centralization concerns.
$ 250 RUNE this week. The rewards increase with an additional 250 RUNE per week until AWS THORNodes are below 33% of the network. pic.twitter.com/4OG88Ao22s
– Sage⚡ (@Bitcoin_Sage) January 12, 2021
Decentralized solution providers such as the Domain Name Server Handshake are censorship-resistant, as they do not rely on traditional processes to resolve domain names. The archivists of the pirate magazine Sci-Hub switched DNS providers using a handshake, as mentioned by Buterin.
For now. However, this will be a boon to the open web, decentralized tools, and networks. Short term concentration leads to long term diffusion. Antifragility is not free. https://t.co/f0u6Ln3XXj
– Jonny (@wysinati) January 9, 2021
Concerns about censorship are not the only reason why reliance on a single hosting service provider puts crypto-based services at risk. In November, Coinbase was hit by AWS outages, causing users to have trouble signing in and navigating their accounts.