Por Josh Ye
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shanghai residents are turning to blockchain technology to preserve memories of the city’s month-long lockdown, turning videos, photos and artwork of the situation into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to secure that can be shared without censorship.
Banned by the government from leaving their homes for weeks on end, many of the city’s 25 million residents are venting their frustrations online, venting about draconian lockdown measures and difficulties getting food and sharing stories, such as patients unable to receive medical treatment.
This has intensified the provocation of Chinese censors, who have promised to step up policing of Chinese internet and group chats in the country.
While some people continue to republish content in defiance of censors, others are turning to NFT marketplaces such as the world’s largest OpenSea, where users can upload content and buy or sell it using cryptocurrencies, drawn in part by the fact that that data recorded on the blockchain cannot be erased.
As of Monday, 786 different items related to a six-minute video titled “The Voice of April”, a montage of voices recorded throughout the epidemic in Shanghai can be found on OpenSea, along with hundreds of other NFTs related to the lockdown on City.
On April 23, a Chinese Twitter user with the handle imFong said in a widely circulated post, “I created the ‘Voice of April’ video on an NFT and froze its metadata. This video will forever exist on the IPFS,” referring to to the interplanetary file system, a kind of distributed network.
Other Shanghai content available on OpenSea as NFTs for sale includes posts on the Weibo social network containing complaints about the isolation measures, images from inside quarantine centers and artwork inspired by life in confinement.
Although China has banned cryptocurrency trading, it sees blockchain as a promising technology and NFTs have been gaining traction in the country, adopted by state-owned media and even tech companies including Ant and Tencent.