The popular NFT marketplace NBA Top Shot froze the account of an individual with the username “‘FreeHongKong.’’ The username is a reference to the NBA’s tendency of self-censorship to avoid angering the Chinese Communist Party and ruining its chances to do business in China.
The account was banned after the individual submitted a photo in an effort to cashout. “FreeHongKong” received an email from NBA Top Shot’s owner Dapper Labs that he had been banned for “providing false or misleading information during the verification process,” according to CoinDesk.
Dapper Labs is yet to comment on this story. FreeHongKong told CoinDesk that the account was still locked even after their identity had been verified.
FreeHongKong confirmed that the username was a reference to the NBA’s history of self-censorship of activism related to Hong Kong. It started in 2019, after one of the league’s general managers, Darryl Morey, was told to delete a tweet that showed support for Hong Kong.
The NBA officials even demanded an apology, all in an effort to maintain its substantial audience in China.
FreeHongKong is still struggling to recover his account. Dapper Labs has not paused the sales of his collectible NFTs though.
That said, the fact that a closed platform like NBA Top Shot can freeze an account without warning undermines the very essence of digital ownership and the freedom from censorship that decentralization is supposed to bring.