The terms of the change to WhatsApp services have led to a massive shift away from the messaging platform to private and independent competitors such as Telegram and Signal, which have registered millions of new users over the past week.
Instead of accepting the new terms defining the app’s right to share user data with Facebook, millions of WhatsApp users simply ditched the platform and turned it over to less intrusive competitors. Telegram alone has been downloaded 25 million times in the last 72 hours.
Some of these new signups include refugees from the Parler Freedom of Expression platform who are looking for a way to communicate and organize after the sudden shutdown of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) right-hand Twitter option.
The ability of web hosting giants like AWS to unilaterally shut down websites and infrastructure is causing some in the cryptocurrency industry to worry about the future health of blockchain projects.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin called Parler’s removal “extremely disturbing” in a series of tweets, stating AWS was more of a “shared infrastructure provider” than a social media site. Buterin also expressed some dissatisfaction with Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump from accessing its platform:
“The fact that so many people who would normally never support such institutional power now reward technology leaders who deal with roughly democratically elected officials deserves some attention …”
Previously, it was assumed that about 60% of Ethereum nodes are running on AWS.
Daniel Larimer, co-founder of EOS and Bitshares, recently asked for a massive drop from major social media platforms before Parler was removed. He rightly suggested that this might be the “last chance” to download a social media app. Larimer recently retired as the unit’s technical director. One for EOSIO developers and has promised to work with censorship-resistant platforms, which he believes will become even more important as more people are blocked or banned from traditional platforms.
Other crypto projects warn of the central nature of tech giants like Amazon and foresee the challenges they depend on. For example, THORChain’s decentralized liquidity networks encourage nodes running their software to avoid using AWS by giving them additional privileges to use alternative service providers.
Providers of decentralized solutions, such as the domain name server handshake, resist censorship by not relying on classic domain name resolution processes. According to Buterin, the archival experts who hacked the academic journal Sci-Hub switched DNS providers with a handshake.
Censorship issues aren’t the only reason why using a single hosting provider poses a risk to crypto services. In November, the AWS outage affected Coinbase, resulting in users having trouble signing in and navigating their accounts.