YouTube is the defacto “video platform” for users to upload video content. It’s centralized, fast, and simply works. However, as with everything centralized and controlled by a single company, in this case Google, it is subject to restrictions.
Restrictions imposed by YouTube on uploaded videos include: Videos with nudity / sexual content, videos encouraging other to do harmful things, videos whose material is copyrighted in some way, among others.
By having a centralized platform, these kinds of restrictions can be easily enforced. This kind of “censuring” has both pros and cons.
A big pro is that one entity controls the media and ensures safe content for the viewers of the platform.
A big con is that one entity controls the media and defines what is safe content for the viewers of the platform. In case of political videos, these might be deemed harmful or dangerous in some way imposing a kind of censuring of free speech.
In any case, to solve the issue of censuring, only one viable strategy seem to stick: de-centralize the platform and make sure it is not controlled by any single entity
In case of YouTube, an alternative exists called LBRY.TV.
LBRY.TV is website similar to YouTube where one can search for videos, subscribe to channels, create channels and upload videos. LBRY.TV is controlled by LBRY Inc, a company, thus is in fact no different from how Google controls and owns YouTube. LBRY.TV does enforce a kind of censoring of what is exposed, such as illegal or infringing content. LBRY.TV is a centralized application, just like YouTube.
The similarities stops there, however. LBRY.TV leverages the LBRY blockchain, which is a ledger/index over content uploaded to the LBRY network. The blockchain contains information such as the type of media, e.g. “video/mp4”, the title of the video, description, author and the stream-hash. Similar to bit-torrent, the LBRY content network is a P2P distributed system and uses the stream-hash to locate the blobs for the consumer to stream.
Since a block-chain is used, removing information from the chain is next to impossible, which also includes censoring of content. Only the applications leveraging the block-chain can censor content. Furthermore, the actual content is stored in a P2P manner on LBRY content servers, similar to seeders in a BitTorrent network, meaning that the actual content is only removed if it is removed from all the servers and seeders in the network. Similar to BitTorrent, consumers/peers help the network by seeding videos to others.
Performance and user experience of LBRY.TV is not on par with YouTube, since when watching videos there is a substantial “lag” before the video is being played. The primary reason for this is definitely the fact that peers serving the video must first be found and connected to before the streaming can commence. Content-wise, we are not their yet either. But given the age of the application and protocol, this is to be expected.
In any case, the future holds more distributed, free and open services thanks to the guys behind LBRY.