Cryptocurrencies December 23, 2022
Nostr: What To Know About the Decentralized Alternative to Twitter
Jack Dorsey brought attention to the Nostr Protocol when he donated $240,000 in Bitcoin to the budding decentralized social network recently. The donation is ironic in that Dorsey is funding a protocol that challenges the hegemony of Twitter, a company he founded.
Nostr, or Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays, is positioning itself as a Twitter alternative. Spurred on by the loss of confidence in the politically entangled and entrenched social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, and of course, Twitter.
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What is Nostr?
According to a Github post by developers Git-sgmoore and Fiatjaf, Nostr is an “open protocol that is able to create a censorship-resistant global ‘social’ network once and for all.”
“It doesn’t rely on any trusted central server, hence it is resilient; it is based on cryptographic keys and signatures, so it is tamperproof; it does not rely on P2P techniques, therefore it works,” the developers say.
Nostr operates much like Twitter. It allows users to create posts (as they would tweets), “like posts, follow someone or unfollow them, retweet/repost,” according to developers. “Normally the term ‘post’ or ‘note’ is used to refer to creating a post on Nostr.”
The protocol is built using “self-owned account or identities so that it enables us to create ‘decentralized’ social networks” and other types of solutions. “Everybody runs a client. It can be a native client, a web client, etc,” Nostr creators said on Github.
“To publish something, you write a post, sign it with your key and send it to multiple relays (servers hosted by someone else, or yourself). To get updates from other people, you ask multiple relays if they know anything about these other people.”
A client is a front-end application that uses the services provided by a server. Anyone can run a relay. “It does nothing besides accepting posts from some people and forwarding to others. Relays don’t have to be trusted. Signatures are verified on the client side,” developers say.
Nostr ‘excels at broadcasting stuff’
Fiatjaf, the creator of Nostr, tweeted on Dec. 22 that “Nostr excels at ‘broadcasting’ stuff, that is, ‘I want the entire world to see this. Use cases like ‘I want to talk directly to you and no one else’ are hacks at best.”
Besides social networking, the developer said things like forums, Reddit-like apps, prediction markets, marketplaces of physical and digital goods, and others fall into the “broadcasting” category.
– reddit-like apps
– webpage comments
– encyclopedia (like https://t.co/Fvj5kQBEkJ)
– marketplaces of physical or digital goods
– joinmarket market maker announcements
– git patches, repos and git collaboration stuff
– prediction markets / DLC oracle announcements
— fiatjaf (@fiatjaf) December 22, 2022
Nostr is helping to power games such as Chesstr, a new virtual chessboard that allows users “to play chess with a friend anywhere in the world.”
“Just create a random URL and share it with your friend,” tweeted Joao Bordalo, creator of Chesstr. “The URL is used as the seed for the private key, so the same URL means the same key, and the same key means the same board.”
“Using Nostr, each client subscribe to itself, and sends an event to itself when the board changes, putting them in sync (sic),” Bordalo added.
Want to play chess with a friend anywhere in the world?
Presenting Chesstr, a virtual chessboard powered by Nostr.
Just create a random url and share it with your friend. pic.twitter.com/36mC1tYT1x
— João Bordalo ⚡ (@bordalix) December 22, 2022
Users of the Nostr social network are all identified by a public key (a long list of alphanumeric characters). Such as the one Jack Dorsey has now added to his public profile on Twitter. Every post is signed and clients, or user-facing apps, validate the signatures. One such client is Damus, an app that’s available on the Apple Testflight.
Damus claims to support Twitter-like social networking, as well as show messages from channels. To create an account, users do not need a phone number, email or name, it says. Messages are encrypted end-to-end and you can tip your friend’s posts with Bitcoin.
“Built on open internet protocols, there is no platform that can ban or censor you. You are in control of your data and speech,” Damus says on its website. “Messages are distributed via decentralized relays. No need to run any infrastructure and no single point of failure.”
Nostr is one among a number of emerging decentralized social networks intent on giving users both the personal and financial freedom to act according to their conscience rather than under political instruction.
Over the years, key figures in Bitcoin and web3, entities predominantly on the receiving end of U.S. government intrusion, have either disapprovingly reassessed the monopoly of dominant social networks or started to delink their relationships.
Fiatjaf said Twitter has failed on many levels.
“Twitter has ads, uses bizarre techniques to keep you addicted and does not show an actual historical feed from people you follow. Twitter bans people; shadowbans people and has a lot of spam,” he outlined.
Nostr solves all these problems, Fiatjaf added. Decentralized social networks may come in handy in an age of expansive efforts by governments and their agencies to influence tech platforms.
In April, the Biden Administration launched the so-called “Disinformation Governance Board”. The advisory panel was meant to police misinformation, disinformation, and misinformation that supposedly threaten U.S interests.
It was soon disbanded following a public outcry. But the monitoring did not stop. In George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984”, the Thought Police, the secret police of the superstate of Oceania, uses all sorts of methods to surveil citizens.
The secret police punish thoughtcrime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by, and which challenge the authority of the regime’s tyrannical Big Brother. Likewise, Uncle Sam has weaponized social media to police free speech at the risk of flouting its First Amendment.
Donald Trump Twitter ban inspires birth of Truth Social
For example, former U.S. president Donald Trump remains banned from Twitter. His account was permanently suspended in January 2021. The billionaire was accused of using the site to incite violence.
Trump, a prolific tweeter in his time, now runs his own social media platform called “Truth Social.” The platform is a right-wing network that seeks to rival Twitter. Even Truth Social has faced issues of censorship with the likes of Google.
Until recently, Google blocked downloads of the Truth Social app from its digital store for what it called “violent content.”
Crypto and the blockchain have in the past emerged as a solution to situations where other actors are victims of traditional financial or political instruments. The complicity of payment processors, and now social networks, with powerful state interests, is a major concern.
From web2 to web3
Replacement of Twitter with say Trump’s Truth Social, a site based on the old system of the Internet known as “web2”, may facilitate similar problems in the long term. All of this makes the case for censorship-resistant web3 products immune from international meddling.
The most tenable solution that meets that description is, of course, Bitcoin. And the decentralized social networks that come with its technology. Nostr builds on that decentralized ethos of Bitcoin.
However, at the time of publishing there were no easy-to-use apps in any of big tech’s app stores that use the Nostr protocol. There are several web pages using the protocol, among them Astral and Anigma, where the more tech-inclined can try out the technology before its eventual appified prime time. Or try the Damus.io app, via Apple’s Testflight.
Floki Inu (FLOKI) Volumes Surge 300% on China Metaverse Game Plans
The price of Floki Inu (FLOKI), a memecoin inspired by Elon Musk’s pet dog, jumped 15% on Sunday and trading volumes soared over 300% on Monday. The rally came as traders and investors bet on the project, which is pushing to attract more users for its Valhalla metaverse game in China.
FLOKI surged from $0.00003120 to $0.00003587 over the weekend, according to CoinGecko data. Trading volume for the token climbed to $99 million on May 29, up nearly 300% from the previous week’s average of $25 million.
As of writing, however, the price of FLOKI fell 2% on the day to $0.00003291 and average 24-hour trading volume dropped to $17.12 million. The token is down more than 90% since its all time high of $0.00033651 on Nov. 4, 2021.
Chinese flock to FLOKI
Floki is a cryptocurrency that began life as a memecoin but has evolved to become a fully fledged web3 project. Created in Sept. 2021 by an anonymous team of developers, the Floki ecosystem now includes a decentralized exchange, an NFT marketplace, and Valhalla.
In February, the team announced it would be targeting China in its latest push to attract more players for Valhalla, a play-to-earn (P2P) metaverse game that allows players to earn FLOKI tokens by completing quests and battling other players.
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Since the announcement, Floki now has a Chinese website and its technical documents, including the whitepaper, are available in the language. Floki is working with Btok, a popular web3 social network in China, to “introduce FLOKI to 10 million Chinese crypto users.”
Floki has also been running ads for Valhalla during some of the biggest sporting events in China such as the Chinese Super League and the Chinese Basketball Association. It also sponsored the just-ended World Table Tennis Championships Finals in South Africa.
The ads have helped to raise awareness of the metaverse game among Chinese gamers.
“We’ve gotten an influx of Chinese traffic today due to the CCTV-5 [the main sports channel in China] feature, and we want to remind you that FLOKI is strategically positioned for Hong Kong and China opening up to crypto,” said the Floki team in a tweet.
We've gotten an influx of Chinese traffic today due to the CCTV-5 feature, and we want to remind you that $FLOKI is strategically positioned for Hong Kong and China opening up to crypto.
Below is our "China Plan", which highlights our strategy for China:https://t.co/Zn7NDGdQ6q
— FLOKI (@RealFlokiInu) May 28, 2023
Hong Kong eases crypto regulations
The focus on China is a major development for Floki. The Chinese market is one of the largest and most lucrative in the world, and if FLOKI can successfully tap into this market, it could see significant growth in the coming years, observers say.
Floki’s China push comes at a time when the Hong Kong government is expected to legalize crypto trading starting June 1, allowing citizens to invest in assets such as bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) on regulated crypto exchanges.
“While FLOKI is a global cryptocurrency our goal is to be the most known/used crypto. That won’t be possible without China and Hong Kong,” the team wrote on Twitter.
The Chinese version of Floki’s play-to-earn metaverse game Valhalla will be released in the second half of 2023 and will feature a variety of gaming experiences like racing, fighting, and role-playing, it added.
On mainnet, users would have to hold a certain amount of FLOKI in their wallet to make a character playable. The game is still in development, but it has already generated a lot of excitement among the Floki Inu community
Hong Kong Police Launch Metaverse Platform to Fight Cyber Crime
The Hong Kong Police Force cybersecurity unit has launched a metaverse platform, CyberDefender, to promote metaverse crime prevention and highlight the risks associated with Web3. The initiative will equip citizens with skills and strategies relevant in tackling technology-related crimes in the digital age.
The city is also ramping up its regulatory efforts to prevent criminals from using crypto to launder money.
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To mark the launch, the police force organized an inaugural event titled “Exploring the Metaverse” within the virtual realm.
This is an initiative to raise public awareness regarding the potential risks linked to the metaverse and Web3, at a time when digitalization is fast growing and gaining traction all over the world.
The launch event took place across three virtual venues and was organized on the newly-launched platform with the aim of engaging participants in proactive conversations about ensuring safety within this virtual realm.
During the event, chief inspector IP Cheuk-yu from the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) presented on the dangers associated with Web3 and urged the public to exercise caution.
Metaverse a breeding ground for criminals
There have been reports on cases of verbal and sexual harassment within VR games that surfaced last year. Later, campaigners said an avatar of a 21-year old researcher was sexually assaulted in Meta’s VR platform Horizon Worlds.
“All crimes in the cyberspace could also happen in the metaverse such as investment frauds, unauthorized access to systems, theft and sexual offenses,” said the chief inspectator.
UK police forces also recorded 45 cases of child abuse in the metaverse while 30,925 individual offences involving indecent images of children on social media platforms were also recorded in 2021-2022, according to figures from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
The chief inspector further emphasized that the metaverse presents potential dangers such as hacking and theft of digital assets by modern cybercriminals.
“The decentralized nature of virtual assets in Web3 may also increase the likelihood of cybercriminals targeting endpoint devices, virtual asset wallets and smart contracts,” he added.
Attendees at the event were enlightened about the advancements made in combating crypto crime and the ongoing efforts to mitigate its impact, providing valuable insights into the evolving landscape of cybercrime and efforts taken to curb illicit activities involving digital assets.
Increase in cybercrimes
In 2022 alone, the city witnessed a staggering 2,336 virtual asset related crimes, according to the Hong Kong Police Force in a press release that accompanied the launch.
The incidences resulted in financial losses of $1.7 billion for victims. Figures from the police force also show that 663 cases of a similar nature have already been reported during the first quarter of 2023 alone.
These losses amounted to $570 million, an alarming increase of 75% compared to the same period last year. The police stated that most of the cases involved virtual asset investment.
“Criminals took advantage of the public’s lack of knowledge about virtual assets and lured them into non-existent investments,” they warned.
According to the police, such figures underscored the urgent need for proactive measures to address the rising trend in virtual asset-related crimes and protect individuals from significant financial harm.
City gets tough on money laundering
Concurrent with the introduction of the new metaverse platform, the Hong Kong Securities Regulatory Commission (HKSRC) released revised anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines.
The guidelines outline the tactics employed by offenders to launder money through digital assets and offers comprehensive measures for financial institutions to shield themselves from illicit engagements. Changes include enhanced Know Your Customer (KYC) and due diligence requirements.
Enforcing the enhanced KYC rules means Hong Kong is stepping up efforts to prevent dirty money from flowing through the city, which will also make it less attractive for criminals to use crypto for their illicit transactions.
Under the updated guidelines, institutions that facilitate crypto transactions valued at 8,000 RMB or more must collect identifying information about both sender and receiver.
The increase in cyber-related crimes is pushing authorities to aggressively tackle the problem and raise awareness among the public.
Aside from Hong Kong, other jurisdictions adapting their AML guidelines to keep up with the use of digital assets by criminal networks include Japan, which recently announced stricter AML rules for crypto transfers. The country will specifically impose what is known as the “travel rule,” whereby exchanges must ensure details about the sender are shared with other parties.
If effective, efforts to fight crime are expected to be as international as the criminal networks themselves. Last month, reports suggested the International Revenue Service (IRS) would deploy cyber agents internationally to investigate the use of crypto in financial crimes.
Metaverse Token DeepBrain Chain Soars 200% Due to AI Progress
Metaverse token DBC is one of the best-performing digital currencies in the first five months of the year. And its bullish cycle has been sustained by the release of a progress report with an emphasis on many areas including artificial intelligence (AI).
DBC is the native asset of DeepBrain Chain, a platform using blockchain technology to build a scalable, distributed high-performance computing network. Its value has increased by more than 200% in value year-to-date (YTD), data from crypto price tracker CoinMarketCap shows.
On-chain data indicates that DBC was trading hands for $0.0039884 on May 24 after starting the year with a trading price of $0.001145 – a 248% rise in five months.
While DBC has benefitted from positive market sentiment, there are salient price drivers behind its rally.
Progress Report powers DeepBrain Chain’s ascension
Metaverse token DBC’s ability to sustain its gains is down to the work done by the DeepBrain Chain Team.
On May 21, the team released Progress Report Number 133 and provided updates on Product Development Progress, Marketing Progress, and Ecosystem Building.
Under Ecosystem Building, the development team highlighted Haibao GPU Cloud – a platform that allows people from across the globe to rent GPU power at affordable prices.
According to the report, DeepBrain has used its technology to help with artificial intelligence (AI) face-changing application testing. “The platform supports A-series GPU A5000, A4000, and 30-series GPU for trial testing. It can automatically replace human faces according to view screenshot sampling, and provide marketing support for wig customers,” the DeepBrain team said.
AI-Generated Content (AIGC) was also featured in the report. AIGC is where AI is used to automate the information creation process while fulfilling the personalized requirements of users.
Over $4m added to DBCs market cap in May
DBC opened May with a trading price of $0.03007 and reached a month-high price of $0.004202 on May 23.
On the first day of the month, the project’s market value stood at around $8.6 million, and this increased to approximately $13.2 million as of 11:00 UTC on May 24.
Within three weeks, the buying and selling activities of traders improved DBC’s market value by about $4.6 million. This explains the token’s ascension by 40% in May.
DBC is supported by three cryptocurrency exchanges, namely Gate.io, Huobi Global, and BitMart.
In crypto, one of the primary drivers of price is exchange listing. Aside from the aforementioned platforms, some of the largest exchanges by trading volume such as Binance, Deepcoin, Hotcoin Global, Upbit, MEXC Global, Coinbase, KuCoin, JPEX, Kraken, and Gemini are yet to add support for DeepBrain Chain’s novel token.
Should this happen along the way, DBC could conceivably become a top 500 crypto by market value. In the process, it may compete with other metaverse tokens such as ApeCoin (APE), Decentraland (MANA), Alien Worlds (TLM), Internet Computer (ICP), and the Sandbox (SAND).
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