In the current series Codeword we examine whether – and how – technology can protect people from sexual assault and harassment and how it can help and support survivors.
When many think of Blockchain, they think of cryptocurrencies. But as one of the most exciting new areas of emerging technology, there is an incredibly wide range of use cases for Blockchain ̵
Launch of the new app Smashboard an India-based alternative social media network with specific features to combat rape culture and create an all-encompassing feminist online community for survivors of sexual assault and allies.
The app, which can be downloaded in India on both Android and iOS devices, uses the Ethereum Blockchain to privatize and encrypt users' messages creating a safer online space through full pseudo-anonymization , Features of the app include a durable timestamped journal where survivors can record the events of their sexual assault.
In addition, the nonprofit app provides an extensive list of mental health resources and legal practitioners, a forum for users to seek and provide help in the community, and a newsfeed with articles from feminist publications with the option to leave anonymous tips for journalists if they want to share their story about sexual assault.
All users can remain anonymous when using the app that is supposedly not collecting data or using location tracking software.
While Smashboard uses blockchain to protect the identity of its users, the company plans to launch its own coin. However, the use of cryptocurrency is currently banned in India. Speaking to Quartz NoPur Tiwari, the app's founder, believes that Smashboard could launch a coin called "SMASH" to finance feminist campaigns, digital tools, and grassroots if legalized and properly regulated crypto initiatives by investors, who are ideologically committed to the cause.
This app connects survivors and allies through their app. Currently, however, it is only available in English, Spanish and French. However, it is planned to expand the language options.
"SMASH coins are also executed on Ethereum. Blockchain is hailed as the technology that will radically change the way things are done online in the near future. It is indeed potentially disruptive as it is essentially a medium for decentralization, "Tiwari told TNW. "The breakdown of patriarchal institutions and structures envisaged by feminists is also disturbing. Therefore, Blockchain addresses feminism, especially when technology is extended to socio-political areas. Belonging to the early majority (since Blockchain is no longer "new"), women can shape and use technology to disassemble patriarchy. "
Technology is black and white, but not the human world. We can never rely solely on technology to protect ourselves, because technology can never be a substitute for a healthy sexual culture in which the consent is respected and openly discussed. However, Smashboard offers hope to create a safe online space for survivors as the #Metoo movement in India surges.