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07.09.19

Why Social Control Media is a Threat to (Software) Freedom

Posted in Site News at 1:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Either you are in control of the platform or the platform is in control of you

Social control
Reference: Social control

Summary: Techrights explains platform autonomy and the perils of the ‘new’ form of media, wherein public officials rely on a government-connected (often foreign government) and third party with shareholders to disseminate and not discriminate against (or censor) their public communications

“S

ocial Control Media” is a term I’ve long used to describe so-called ‘social’ ‘media’ (especially centralised, proprietary, censored one; e.g. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube). Some people including Wikileaks have adopted this term, which I coined several years ago (along with others like “openwashing”). Another noteworthy term is “fake news”; and no, it wasn’t Trump’s invention, he just popularised a term that had been used against him by Democrats and actually goes years back to what China called posts in “Social Control Media” which needed to be removed (the Communist Party deemed those posts “fake news”). This predates Trump’s presidential campaign.

We’ve rarely commented on these issues, but they’re worth entertaining because groups like the OSI and FSF never bring them up (not anymore). I asked Richard Stallman about these things several years back and published it in video form. The Linux Foundation took “Social Control Media” to new lows when it started selling “sponsored” tweets. We covered that earlier this year and presented strong evidence.

“Freedom is not free and sometimes it takes some additional effort. But at least one remains in control in one’s platform, not having to fear bogus DMCA takedown requests and deplatforming, which evokes self-censorship.”“Social Control Media” does not involve fact-checking and a lot of the time it’s gamed by AstroTurfing operatives — a subject explored more and more since Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

Jim Zemlin barely tweets anymore; his wife took all of her tweets private. They seem to have grasped the harms of “Social Control Media”. Thugs and oppressors such as Campinos and Battistelli never even bothered with “Social Control Media,” perhaps viewing it with distrust. They rarely allow people to talk back to them — a subject we covered here before.

Techrights has some old accounts in “Social Control Media,” but they have not been used in nearly a decade. I have an account in Twitter (personal account), but I only post there what I also post in Pleroma/Mastodon and Diaspora, which are decentralised and based on Free software. Whether they’re centralised or not, that does not affect the ability to silence and/or censor instances/pods across one another (at the linkage level). The actions taken to suppress/block Gab are a recent reminder of that. MINDS, one might add, is barely decentralised and its commitment to Free software is mostly a token. This is why, all in all, there’s no real substitute to running one’s site/blog and using that for all official communications. Starting soon, having made many changes at the back end, we intend to increase the frequency and volume of posts in Techrights.

The bottom line is, what was put forth with the promise of facilitating greater speech has over time become selector or filter of speech, not only broadcasts but also private dialogues. Those who value freedom will appreciate the importance of domain diversity and decentralisation of the Web. We don’t use “cloud” anything and we even object to things like CDNs (e.g. Cloudflare), which are a lazy person’s ‘fix’. Freedom is not free and sometimes it takes some additional effort. But at least one remains in control in one’s platform, not having to fear bogus DMCA takedown requests and deplatforming, the latter of which evokes self-censorship.

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