Home / News / Crypto / Solana / Solana Devs Debate Blocking Racist Memecoins – Is This Actually Possible?
4 min read

Solana Devs Debate Blocking Racist Memecoins – Is This Actually Possible?

Published April 1, 2024 12:27 PM
James Morales
Published April 1, 2024 12:27 PM
By James Morales
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • A torrent of offensive memecoins have landed on Solana.
  • Developers recently discussed how best to deal with the problem.
  • Solana Foundation head of strategy Austin Federa said dApp developers should block racist tokens.
  • Validators could also censor transactions.

Starting in late 2023, an explosion of memecoins has landed in the Solana ecosystem, spurred on by the success of BONK and DogWifHat.

But unfortunately, the blockchain has also played host to a string of racist and antisemitic tokens, sparking a debate about moderation, censorship and the responsibilities of different ecosystem participants. 

Offensive Meme Coins on Solana 

While censorship resistance is a benefit of decentralized blockchains, it also means people can use them for hateful content. 

There are certainly examples of offensively named tokens on other chains. However, for some reason, Solana has recently been the site of an influx of coins that reference racial slurs and antisemitic tropes.

If a small group of insiders circulated these tokens, no one would have noticed. But some have proven popular enough to attract attention.

Solana Racist Memecoins Are Out of Control. 
byu/Darksid3ofthemoon  insolana 

For example, by the latest count, Jewsdid911 is held by thousands  of Solana addresses and has a market capitalization of nearly $300,000. Racist Solana tokens have become so prominent that even Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin recently weighed in on the matter.

Given the magnitude of the problem, ecosystem participants are considering how best to deal with it.

Who is Responsible For Stopping Racist Tokens

During a meme coin panel discussion at BUIDL  Asia in Seoul recently, Solana Foundation head of strategy Austin Federa suggested that wallet developers could block offensive tokens. This, he argued, would simply require extending existing filters. “Almost every wallet in every ecosystem filters out spam NFTs and spam tokens,” he pointed out. 

However, Federa insisted that moderation should happen at the application level and that the underlying network should remain permissionless.

He said: “No one expects Verizon to have a legal obligation to prevent a phishing email from landing in your inbox or to prevent you from accessing something that is potentially racist material.”

Likewise, he suggested it was unreasonable to expect validators to filter racist coins. He said this should be the responsibility of wallet and exchange operators. 

While Federa’s comparison reflects a view of blockchain node operators as detached and apolitical, Marc Zeller, founder of the Aave Chan Initiative, pointed to a flaw in his reasoning.

“In France, for instance, there are legal obligations for ISPs to block certain content,” he observed.

Moreover, Zeller highlighted that outside of the fiercely libertarian crypto space, freedom of expression is rarely viewed in such absolute terms. He said:

“I’m not saying it’s a good thing, nor am I trying to be political. It’s interesting to point out that different cultures have different approaches to the same issue… Focusing on the blockchain ethos, we tend to support free speech and believe that censorship resistance is more important than eliminating displeasing content.”

Blockchain Validators and Collective Censorship

Zeller stopped short of recommending that Solana nodes stop processing racist meme coin transactions. However, he noted many Ethereum validators and relay nodes already do this for transactions that breach the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) sanctions.

In the last 60 days, roughly half of all Ethereum relay nodes refused to forward transaction data from OFAC-designated addresses. Meanwhile, 64% of block-builders censor transactions according to OFAC sanctions. 

Ethereum Censorship
Source: censorship.pics

It could be argued that Ethereum nodes which comply with US sanctions represent a form of collective censorship. Yet, even so, unless 100% of block builders censor transactions, they will still get included in new blocks eventually. 

The decentralized nature of blockchains makes it almost impossible to completely block a certain type of token or transaction. By making it more difficult for them to be included in new blocks, collective censorship can still have an effect.

Was this Article helpful? Yes No