When President Trump’s Executive Order on Section 230 took Twitter by storm a few weeks ago, it heightened the debate on whether social media platforms have a duty to moderate user-generated content. China’s social media users are all too familiar with government censorship, too.
So maybe it’s time for a grassroots, bottom-up Chinese solution to the problem of government censorship? Suji Yan, founder of Shanghai-based Dimension tech, thinks so. His product, Maskbook, is a web3.0 layer on top of web2.0 that enables users to post encrypted, surveillance-free messages onTwitter and Facebook so that only the people you want can see them.
For this week’s da bing, I sat down with Yan to discuss what Maskbook does and how it will bridge web2.0 and web3.0.
The Red Packet campaigns
Born and raised in China, Yan was an investigative journalist before he was an engineer. Among other things, he’s known for popularizing a cross-dressing movement among coders in China, known as “big dudes in dresses.” Though he identifies as straight, and is married, Yan has said that cross dressing helped him write bug-free code.
He unveiled Maskbook in January; it gained momentum shortly thereafter during the Chinese New year when it launched a “Twitter Red Packet 🧧” campaign with MakerDAO. The campaign allowed Maskbook users to claim DAI tokens on Twitter via a red packet, a traditional way for Chinese to bestow blessings during the Chinese New Year. Yan told me that the campaign increased DAI’s number of users by 15%.
More recently, as part of Bitcoin’s halving celebration, it ran another Red Packet campaign with OKB, the exchange token of OKEx, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world.
The Red Packet Campaigns were a kind of Trojan horse. Their aim was to do more than simply introduce Maskbook as an encrypted messaging service.
“Rather, our secret weapon is to open the gates of the web3.0 world to the users…