Bonum Certa Men Certa

The War on Free Software Reporters - Part VII - Groupthink, Censorship Demands, and Ultimatums

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Jun 11, 2024

OMG Corrupt Microsoft

In Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI we covered a wide range/variety of tactics used to discourage or scare people who report on Free software issues. Some of these aren't limited to Free software or even to software in general.

Censorship is a "four-letter word" (actually, ten letters) and it conveys different meanings to different people. For instance, many don't consider self-censorship (hesitation to say or write something) to be censorship.

There's a lot of groupthink in the Free software community, especially in social control media, so many people are apprehensive or simply afraid to express an opinion unlike what's observed from "the group" (as if sacred cows exist, however imaginary). There are many examples of this and PR agencies are quick to exploit - or capitalise on - social control media in this fashion.

When reading articles about Free software, or even when simply walking/scrolling through some "timeline" online, do not forget the tacitly-induced discipline of self-censorship.

To use one example from Microsoft's internal document [PDF]: "Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, "he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2." Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition's technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors' technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time."

Just because you don't see/hear/read something (sometimes deliberately hidden) online doesn't means that it's untrue or unlikely. It may be hidden from you, specifically, or it might be the case that those who express some opinion are shadowbanned (or banned entirely) like in Reddit; it might even be part of some marketing contract (or lobbying) demanding the censorship, as happened in Twitter.

Covid-19 Drugmakers Pressured Twitter to Censor Activists Pushing for Generic Vaccine

As we noted here the other week, Reddit is notoriously hostile towards Software Freedom, but most people aren't aware of what's really happening there. When I spoke to Richard Stallman about Conde Nast's Reddit (about a decade ago) he suggested calling it "Conde Nasty" because even the "Stallman Was Right" section there ("sub") is hostile towards him. It's not curated by people one might expect. Conde Nast habitually bans the people who created a "sub", replacing them with subservient, conformist ("advertiser-friendly") cronies.

It's just part of the Perception Management meta-'industry'. It's basically a filter that's adjusted for a price.

Then there's the "Censorship Demands and Ultimatums"; we alluded to this earlier today and gave additional examples in the past. Some people try to scare their critics, and sometimes it works. See Part V for another example in the realm of Gentoo.

We need to publicly talk about those things because if we lack freedom of expression we will, in turn, lose our freedom of thought. In turn, in the absence of facts, people lose a sense of reality. Lies become perceived truisms or axioms.

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