Residents of Shanghai turn to NFTs to combat censorship during lockdown

Unable to leave their homes for weeks, many of the city’s 25 million residents went on a rampage online, condemning the draconian shutdown measures and difficulties in getting food, and telling difficult stories, such as those about patients who were unable to get medical treatment.

It has intensified a cat-and-mouse game with China’s censors who have promised to intensify control of the Internet and group chat to prevent what they describe as rumors and divisive efforts at the bubbling public frustration over the shutdown.

While some people have kept posting such content, others turn to NFT marketplaces as the world’s largest, OpenSea, where users can monetize content and buy or sell it using cryptocurrencies, which is partly attracted by the fact , that the data recorded on the blockchain is indelible.

The highlight of Shanghai’s mint moment is anchored on April 22, when netizens battled censorship overnight to share a six-minute video titled “April’s Voice,” a montage of recorded voices during the Shanghai eruption.

As of Monday, 786 different items related to the video can be found on OpenSea along with hundreds of other NFTs related to the Shanghai lockdown.

On April 23, a Chinese Twitter user following the imFong handle said in a highly retweeted post, “I turned the ‘April Voice’ video into NFT and froze its metadata. This video will exist forever on IPFS,” with reference to the interplanetary file system, a type of distributed network.

Like most major foreign social media and news platforms, Twitter is blocked in China, though residents can access it using VPNs.

A Shanghai-based programmer told Reuters he was among those in the city who saw their efforts to keep the video alive as part of a “popular uprising”.

He even hit an NFT based on a screenshot of Shanghai’s COVID lockdown map showing how most of the city has been cordoned off from the outside world.

“Being stuck at home because of the outbreak gives me a lot of time,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Other Shanghai content available on OpenSea as NFTs for sale includes Weibo posts that include complaints about lockdown measures, images from quarantine centers, and artwork inspired by life. during confinement.

Simon Fong, a 49-year-old freelance designer from Malaysia who has lived in Shanghai for nine years, began creating satirical illustrations about life during the lockdown in the style of Mao-era propaganda posters.

He started making money on them at NFT, after testing the market since the end of last year, and has now managed to sell nine of his works at an average price of 0.1 ether ($ 290).

His plays include scenes with PCR tests as well as requests for government rations from locals.

“I chose the Mao-era propaganda style for these pieces because some people say the lockdown situation sets Shanghai back,” Fong said.

Although China has banned cryptocurrency trading, it sees the blockchain as a promising technology, and NFTs have grown in popularity in the country, being embraced by state media and even technology companies like Ant Group and Tencent Holdings.

The long-running shutdown of Shanghai, China’s financial center, is part of Beijing’s controversial “zero COVID” strategy, a policy that poses growing risks to its economy https://www.reuters.com/world/china/ china-struggles -options- covid-threaten-economic-goals-2022-04-28.

Shanghai’s COVID outbreak, which began in March, is the worst China has seen since the first months of the pandemic in 2020. Hundreds of thousands of people have been infected in the city.

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