‘Voice of April’ NFTs highlight Shanghai’s struggles amid harsh lockdown

NFTs are being by Shanghai residents to be share and distribute their ordeals and avoid deletion against censorship.
May 05, 2022 - Cynthia Chung

Residents in Shanghai are minting NFTs to voice their frustrations of the harsh lockdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to circumvent censorship restrictions. 


More than 600 such NFTs based on ‘Voice of April’ video that compiled audio calls and complaints made by Shanghai residents captured during their interactions with medical staff and neighbourhood managers. The video and online searches for it were removed by censors online. 


The NFTs also shed light on the difficulties of procuring food, stories of struggles such as patients unable to access medical treatment and more. 


The project highlights the use case of blockchain for recording and preserving facts because of blockchain’s immutable nature. Residents have been capturing their plight by minting videos, photographs and artwork to ensure they can be shared and stored instead of being deleted. 


As of Monday, 786 different NFTs related to the video are posted on OpenSea and hundreds of other NFTs inspired by the Shanghai lockdown. Other NFTs include Weibo posts containing complaints about the lockdown, photographs of quarantine centers and images depicting life during lockdown. 


The NFT movement has intensified the cat-and-mouse game with Chinese authorities, who quickly jumped in to censor any criticism of the administration and the state and vowed to enforce measures to police internet and group chats from spreading what they perceive as rumors and intentions of stoking fear and discord in the city. 


To circumvent censorship, residents changed the headline of the video and reposted it upside down. They also started minting NFTs of the video and complaints posted about the lockdown online. 


The video is also stored on Matters, a decentralized content-sharing system known as Interplanetary File System (IPFS). Other social movements were posted and recorded on Matters as early as 2019 such as the protests in Hong Kong and opinions by residents on the Wuhan COVID-19 outbreak. 


Photo: The Handout


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