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    My Mastodon comment on this: Being a tech vegan is pretty easy if someone in your immediate family is in the priesthood: someone who can set up NextCloud, LineageOS, and DavDroid so your calendar and contacts just work. It’s like having a good vegan cook in your family.

    In some sense, I admire what Purism is doing to make that ecosystem simple (just opt-in and everything works). Pity they messed up the policy side so badly.

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      In some sense, I admire what Purism is doing to make that ecosystem simple (just opt-in and everything works). Pity they messed up the policy side so badly.

      What exactly did they mess up? Honest question. All I’ve heard people complain about is that they take a fairly strong free-speech/common-carrier stance, which seems pretty sane to me.

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        They completely disabled the reporting functionality for letting admins know when harassment happens.

        Also they rebranded the Tusky android client as their own thing without attribution early on or even any heads-up to the project maintainers. They fixed that after a few days but it was still super tacky.

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          They completely disabled the reporting functionality for letting admins know when harassment happens.

          This was reverted: https://source.puri.sm/liberty/smilodon/commit/3e0bfd6431c4c7d7a209331061fc42fc7df9d990

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            They completely disabled the reporting functionality for letting admins know when harassment happens.

            But one can still report to the legal authorities, AFAIK. I think that they are probably better-positioned to deal with misbehaviour anyway, and have legal safeguards in place to protect all parties.

            But I’m not familiar with what admin notification GNU Social/status.net (that’s what Mastodon really is, IIRC) support.

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              But one can still report to the legal authorities, AFAIK

              No, of course you can’t. How would you even know what jurisdiction would be relevant to begin with? Even if you could, the odds they would do anything about it are next to nil.

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                Of course you can, for example, if there is a specific threat of actual violence or imminent harm, such as announcing plans for an act of terrorism, or posting evidence of a crime which has been committed, then reporting should be obvious.

                If there isn’t anything to be done in meatspace then it’s most likely than the intention behind the act of reporting is to silence the speaker because of speech you don’t like.

                Such behavior may or may not be warranted depending on how much your views and the views of those running the federated instance are aligned.

                In a federated system there are better solutions than such gross censorship and intimidation.

                Ideally, with a federated system, if those running the instance simply don’t want or care about such feedback from their users, and if that bothers you, you should run own instance where you can more closely surveil and censor your users (or move to an instance run by a party that does.)

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                  The vast majority of harassment is legal. There are ways to stop this without involving the authorities, but it’s a lot easier to deal with if the admins of the instance actually make an effort to help deal with harassment instead of throwing up their arms and saying it’s impossible. “Just silence them” is only a small piece of the puzzle; it doesn’t scale to harassment mobs.

                  Initially Librem did not understand this, but apparently they realized their policy was problematic and changed it.

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                    Please explain what is incorrect here. You might not agree with me that doesn’t mean that what I’m saying is not factually correct. Can you not report specific threats? Am I incorrect about moderation in federated systems? Please don’t turn this site political and spread lies and FUD by downvoting factual content you disagree with - this isn’t reddit.

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                      If there isn’t anything to be done in meatspace then it’s most likely than the intention behind the act of reporting is to silence the speaker because of speech you don’t like.

                      This is factually incorrect. (edit: but I didn’t downvote because of it)

                      It sounds an awful lot like a “harassment isn’t a problem I’ve experienced, so how can it be a problem for other people?” kind of argument.

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                        Unfortunately it’s too late to edit the comment, but let it be known that sentence is my opinion - it also happens to be the strongly held opinion of many free speech scholars and academics, though I am not attempting to make an argument from authority, just qualifying the statement.

                        I don’t agree, however, with your assessment - not at all. Harassment is a problem that I’ve experienced, but it is never a justification for limiting freedoms and suppressing human rights.

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              I agree - if anyone feels as if they have to censor or de-platform people with different ideas — even abhorrent and vile ideas — that’s a huge warning signal that they don’t have better ideas to compete and counter them with, and they don’t see the irony in their own behavior.

              Simply put, I’d rather share a platform with actual real Nazis than with fascist censoring technocrats any day of the week.

              There is no oppression like the oppression of those people who justify it by claiming they are “doing good”.

              It’s the vile, abhorrent, unpopular, and offensive speech that needs to be protected the most - there has never been any pressing need to protect mainstream popular speech.

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                I agree - if anyone feels as if they have to censor or de-platform people with different ideas — even abhorrent and vile ideas — that’s a huge warning signal that they don’t have better ideas to compete and counter them with, and they don’t see the irony in their own behavior.

                Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice. Arguing with Nazis only validates them. etc.

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                  I’m upvoting you here! I have no plans to argue with them as I don’t believe their positions are justifiable or defensible - but their speech should stand for itself, and is absolutely deserving of protection. The solution to speech you don’t like is more speech - not to silence.

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                    This assumes that the right of someone to speak trumps all other rights; this is a political position, and one that needs defending. It is not at all obviously true that the solution to bad speech is more speech. Americans often assume it is, but many other people have free societies where other considerations can trump this right.

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                      It’s not a free society without free speech. So long as you do not call for violence, your speech is not dangerous to individuals except in the abstract, and there are good reasons to protect it. Essentially, we don’t prohibit expressions of fundamental rights until you are infringing on another person’s fundamental rights.

                      Anything less is not a truly free society, but just an authoritarian government in benign hands.

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                        I don’t think anyone in the thread is advocating the banning of unpopular speech by the state.

                        [Edit - clarifying what I mean by “banning speech”].

                        The issue is whether this speech should have free and unfettered expression on various social media platforms, i.e. the fundamental difference between censorship (using the power of the state to suppress speech) and moderation (platform owners and communities deciding what expressions are acceptable on their platforms).

                        I agree that literal Nazis have the right to express themselves. I also agree that anyone has the right to forbid that expression on any platform they control[1].

                        [1] unless the suppression is mandated by the state, which would mean it’s censorship.

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                          I don’t think anyone in the thread is advocating the banning of unpopular speech.

                          Except that is exactly what many of the commentators are advocating. I many kinds of speech , mostly things that would be considered hate speech, to be insulting, intolerable, abhorrent, disgusting, and devoid of meaningful value, having absolutely no place in a civilized society - that’s exactly why that speech is the most important speech to protect.

                          Edit: Moderation certainly becomes censorship when there are no viable alternative platforms. That’s exactly why it’s not my choice but my responsibility to protect most vigorously the speech I disagree with the most.

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                            I’ve updated my comment to clarify that “banning” would be banning by the state. I would not agree with anyone advocating that.

                            Moderation certainly becomes censorship when there are no viable alternative platforms.

                            That’s a market failure, not a legal issue.

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                              I’ve updated my comment to clarify that “banning” would be banning by the state. I would not agree with anyone advocating that.

                              That’s quite fair.

                              Moderation certainly becomes censorship when there are no viable alternative platforms.

                              That’s a market failure, not a legal issue.

                              While I can agree with that as well, I believe that the mere existence of this situation should be enough compel the government to, at a minimum, examine (and relax) regulatory requirements to reduce barriers to entry, and to (meaningfully) investigate the leading players for antitrust violations — and take appropriate actions.

                              Good timing on this thread, because it seems this is finally actually happening.

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                          It’s not a free society without free speech.

                          I would never claim otherwise! But what does “free speech” mean? If it means that the right of expression is unlimited, then, well, that’s a very different claim.

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                          While I personally find this sort of attitude incredibly naive and dangerous if we wish to avoid a descent towards (global) fascism and despotism, (a trend, in my opinion, that it seems we’ve only recently begun to reverse), I can’t fault you for holding what I see as misguided beliefs, because I felt very much the same way as you did in the past. I also won’t downvote your comment, even though I believe it is demonstrably incorrect.

                          The solution is here is education, and to put politics aside.

                          I would highly recommend that you (or anyone, and not just law students), loan or purchase and read the standard textboook “Speech and Law in a Free Society” by Franklyn S. Haiman.

                          Haiman’s work is widely considered to be the standard-bearing textbook in this subject, has more than a dozen citations in legal cases, and has shaped much of the modern theory of free speech law and scholarship.

                          Once you are familiar with Haiman’s text, I’d move on to Haiman’s famous essay in the field, The Remedy is More Speech.

                          If you have access to PACER and online legal journals, I can provide many other citations to case law and arguments which are much much convincing that what I could put in a lobste.rs comment, and avoid bringing this thread further off-topic. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interesting in challenging your preconceptions.

                          Edit: And yes, while this book does speak from the perspective of American jurisprudence, the ideas which are analyzed are universal and apolitical.

                          Edit 2: When I refer to American jurisprudence, I refer to it in concept, and not to West’s encyclopedic publication of the same name. I’ve corrected the capitalization to avoid any confusion.

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                            Thank you for the thoughtful answer. I worry that my initial post wasn’t clear — I wasn’t making any particular claim about any particular speech, it rather a more abstract one about rights. My point is that freedom of expression is only one of a large basket of goods, that those goods are incommensurable, and that the particular way that societies balance competing claims of rights are properly within the realm of political decision making. In fact, I would argue that the single most important function of politics is the act of balancing these priorities.

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                              Thanks for the clarification - I can certainly agree with you on that point and definition of politics and apologize if I conflated your two points and came off strong in the response.

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                                Not at all! I found this a very interesting and educational exchange. I have skipped straight to the essay, because with two toddlers my time for serious reading has almost entirely evaporated.

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                          Free speech means you can’t compel them to stop by force.

                          It doesn’t mean you have to allow them to use your own servers to disseminate their sludge. (obligatory xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1357/)

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                            Anyone has the right to exclude anyone from their platform for any reason they choose* - that was never in question. The problem becomes when there is only one platform to use. This is why it is of upmost importance to give everyone a platform and to reject platforms under the grip of fascist technocrats.

                            I believe we are in total agreement here.

                            (* Edit: In most cases - of course I recognize that laws vary by sovereign state and legal jurisdiction, as well as by ownership of the platform.

                            My comment was intended to apply to private ownership by a US citizen within the United States. Of course, while a US government owned website would not be able exclude users based on (and not inclusive to) Race, Skin Color, Religion, Nationality, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Age, Disability, Veteran Status, Genetic Makeup, or Citizenship, a private individual in the US may of course choose to discriminate based on any or all of these factors, in almost all cases, as long as they aren’t involved in certain protected activities, including but not limited to activities such as offering employment or housing. It’s unfortunate that such a level of semantic specificity is necessary to state.)

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                              I believe the downvotes here are being grossly abused. Please explain where anything is incorrect in my statement and I’ll edit it and include a footnote. Otherwise, everything in the above post is 100% correct according to the laws of United States - don’t allow trolls to tell you things that are true are actually false - that’s just dishonest. The truth might not be to our liking, but that doesn’t make it less true.

                              Please explain how it is incorrect that platform owners do not have the right to exclude individuals or how it is incorrect that the US government cannot discriminate based on protected classes, or that those involved in certain activies cannot?

                              Please don’t make this a political where you abandon the truth because reality doesn’t agree with your beliefs. These statements are true and do not allow trolls spreading disinformation to tell you otherwise.

                              To those who get angry at my daring to speak the truth - I’d also suggest you read my other comments on this thread before you decide to abuse the voting system. I’m likely more aligned to you beliefs and values than your would imagine, but ones politics and outlook doesn’t trump the reality in which we live and should never prevent us from discussing facts.

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                      They’ve taken the position that they will explicitly allow hate speech as long as it is not targeted at particular individuals, and that they will allow white supremacist groups to use the platform for organizing and recruitment. This isn’t a “free-speech” stance: it explicitly permits a chilling effect on the speech of blacks, Jews, LBTQA+ people, and anyone else who will feel unwelcome on the platform thanks to it being a safe space for neo-Nazis.

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                        This is, in my opinion, absolutely the correct route to take, and the one championed by many free speech theorists and scholars.

                        I highly suggest reading the works of Haiman (“Speech and Law in a Free Society”, “Speech Acts”, “The Remedy is More Speech”, etc), and probably TS Massaro’s “Equality and Freedom of Expression: The Hate Speech Dilemma” - itself a famous work.

                        It seems as if you are basing your opinion on emotion and disregarding logic. I understand and feel for you - I used to feel the same before I was better educated.

                        Please, don’t take this as a personal insult, because that is not at all the intent. I agree with everything you are saying and feeling, but understand that if there is nowhere for “neo-Nazis” (who are about the most abhorrent people who exist and don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me) to speak, and no one wiling to stand up for their right to speak (while not endorsing the content of their speech) then we are in a much worse situation than that of Nazi Germany.

                        I will always stand up for their right to speak, because these are the worst people, and not the best - their speech is the most offensive, most distasteful, most hateful, most disgusting, most abhorrent, and least deserving.

                        That is exactly why it demands the most protection.

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                          Sounds a lot like a First Amendment speech policy. My local park permits people who hate people likeme to assemble there, but it does not permit them to target me in particular. I’m okay with that (although obviously I would prefer that people hate neither me nor people like me).

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                      One place where the veganism metaphor breaks down is that, although nearly anyone can be a vegan, tech veganism is mostly practiced by those who are expert enough or privileged enough to learn the elaborate workarounds to avoid the GAFAMs of the world. Setting up an Ubuntu laptop, a LineageOS phone, a Fastmail account, and wiring it all together so that you actually get calendar notifications is no easy feat. You will probably have to get your hands dirty on the command line.

                      This is true of literal veganism as well. It’s practiced by millions of people in India and other majority-Buddhist countries who do so for religious and cultural reasons which probably have a lot to do with widespread inability to afford to buy much meat. It’s also practiced by wealthy people in or influenced by globalized Western culture who have the means to form an explicit ethical opinion that eating animals is immoral and act on that ethical commitment.

                      I happened to watch this Youtube video recently, which is a tutorial on how to start a youtube channel as cheaply as possible, made by a professional woodworker who makes a woodworking youtube channel I like. A lot of the video is about the nuts and bolts of videography - what camera to use, how to light your scene, etc. But when he talked about what software he used to edit his videos (about 2/3 of the way through), he made a point of mentioning that he spent $0 on software because all the software he needed for video editing was open-source, and mentioned Blender, GIMP, and Audacity by name. This guy’s profession has nothing at all to do with computers and he’s not a tech wizard in any way, but open source software was nonetheless useful to him for the specific things he cared about doing, and he used it without having to himself make any particular difficult commitment. This is a goal that open-source developers should shoot for, to have free software that is useful enough that people who don’t care about the ethical issues involved and just want to get things done reach for it without thinking about those issues.

                      Literal vegans often encourage non-vegans to reduce their consumption of meat rather than immediately eliminate it entirely, on the grounds that going down the path towards righteousness even a little bit is better than nothing, and once a person has given up some meat it will be easier for them to give up all meat. I’ve seen ideological free software advocates make this same argument for free software, it’s strictly better for people to switch from some piece of closed source software to an open-source one, even if they haven’t switched every part of their stack. Anyway I think most programmers, even most free software advocates, are not entirely consistent about avoiding all non-free software (I certainly don’t avoid all closed-source software). People like Richard Stallman are very rare, and Stallman in particular lives a very unusual lifestyle that really does seem like a sort of monkhood for the quasi-religion of free software - he’s an unusual guy. Maybe if he lived in another time and place he would’ve become an actual monk.

                      I also suspect that tech veganism will begin to shift, if it hasn’t already. I think the focus will become less about open source vs closed source (the battle of the last decade) and more about digital well-being, especially in regards to privacy, addiction, and safety. So in this way, it may be less about switching from Windows to Linux and more about switching from Android to iOS, or from Facebook to more private channels like Discord and WhatsApp.

                      This is a completely orthogonal trend to free vs closed-source software, and sometimes actually works against software freedom. A lot of what people mean by “digital well-being” is not having to see messages they dislike propagated by people they dislike - which the rise of global-scale social media networks like Facebook and Twitter has structurally facilitated - and lots of vocal people, including people who don’t care about computer technology other than as consumers, see this as a fundamentally political problem to be solved with social or government regulation.

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                        In many majority-Buddhist countries, consumption of meat is widespread, and many strict Buddhists, even monks, will absolutely consume meat, rather than having it go to waste.

                        (Depending on which school of Buddhism is studied), even the Buddha himself allowed (and at times encouraged) monks to eat meat (including seafood, fowl, etc.) if they were aware that the animal was not killed solely for their benefit or on their behalf - so “Buddhist vegetarianism” is sometimes quite different then other forms of vegetarianism and did not solely reject meat.

                        This reasonable approach is a good example of being able to make the move to better tech practices without requiring absolutism.

                        (Not everyone has to be Richard Stallman, at least not right away, and that doesn’t mean that Stallman’s principled, some would say absolutist, views are invalid.)

                        Edit: I just noticed Wikipedia has an article on the topic.

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                        I enjoyed this post. I can’t help but wonder though if maybe there’s a better word for this than “tech veganism”. I’m vegan, and to me the word specifically refers to the idea of not exploiting animals. I’m not sure I’m thrilled about the idea of diluting its meaning. Taken to the extreme, you end up with a serious PR problem, because the word goes from meaning just A, to meaning A ⋂ B, to A ⋂ B ⋂ C ⋂ D ⋂ ..., and eventually meaning cave dweller.

                        EDIT: then again, maybe in this case the animals not being exploited are humans. So, maybe it fits. :)

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                          I don’t think worrying about the word’s meaning being diluted. That’s already happening. The word doesn’t mean much to those who aren’t familiar with it. (Lately, it seems like there’s a majority that thinks veganism == gluten-free. Obviously, that’s wrong.) Some vegans do it to reduce animal exploitation, but there’s many more who are vegan for their own selfish reasons (health, likely). At the minimum, veganism means abstaining from animal products.

                          I liked the analogy. There’s a lot of parallels that the author explained, but my favorite being the estranged member of my friend groups.

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                          Tech veganism can even cost you friends. In the same way that having one vegan in the group severely limits your restaurant choices, being the one tech vegan among your friends can really narrow down the options for communication apps. Sure, you can ask them to use Signal. Or email. But most likely, the group chat will just happen without you, and you won’t be getting any Facebook invites.

                          Which can be turned into a great excuse ^^

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                            Veganism seems to have diminishing returns. It’s easy to stop eating meat and reduce diary. It’s really hard to cut out all cheese, non-vegan trace products, etc. The first 90% of benefits is 10% of the effort.

                            Same can be said about “tech veganism”. Something like switching to Firefox is probably a lot more impactful than, say, not using Google Docs.

                            Both in the vegan and “tech vegan” communities there seems to be a split between the more pragmatical “90% better is still 90% better” type of people and more purist “it needs to be 100% or else you’re just wrong” type of people. Quite frankly, I can’t stand people in the latter group either in the veganism or tech communities, even though I have a lot of sympathy towards the basic viewpoints.

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                              It’s easy to stop eating meat and reduce diary. It’s really hard to cut out all cheese, non-vegan trace products, etc. The first 90% of benefits is 10% of the effort.

                              I disagree – it’s really not that hard at all. But it’s still better if people do the 10% of the effort than 0%, and purists help nobody, in either community.

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                              You shouldn’t have to enter an elite tech priesthood just to preserve your privacy, security, and safety online.

                              I disagree with this attitude. There’s nothing special or elite about basic infosec and use of devices. There’s no special magic to “don’t post personal information online unless you’re okay with bad people potentially knowing it.” There’s no one special trick to avoiding toxic online communities: don’t join, or leave.

                              Like, the author even hints at the problem in the preceding paragraph:

                              Does anyone under 21 actually care whether the code on their phone is open-source and whether, Stallman-style, they can dive into an Objective-C file and change something? Probably not many.

                              It seems to me that if we don’t raise people with the expectation that they learn some mastery over basic skills and technology, we do them (and ourselves, when they’re inevitably exploited) a great disservice. If we don’t stop the trend towards digital sharecropping we can’t be surprised when we end up with a bunch of serfs and slaves.

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                                I agree with you that a little tech literacy can go a long way. But I think the bar is far too high, especially for a “full tech vegan” lifestyle. One question I commonly ask myself is, “Could my mother do this? My grandfather? How about someone who has chosen not to work with computers for a living, and to spend their time on something else?”

                                I can drive a car without learning how the internal combustion engine works. I can eat food without knowing about pasteurization or food safety laws. Why is it that with computers, suddenly the only way I can be safe, secure, and private is to be an expert?

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                                  One question I commonly ask myself is, “Could my mother do this? My grandfather?

                                  My mother is nearly 85 years old, a retired history teacher, and a daily user of Red Hat Enterprise Linux — has been since it was first available, which is almost 20 years now.

                                  She never really used Windows systems or PCs outside of exposure to them at work.

                                  She had a Cromemco back in the 1980s (I had a Commodore then) but otherwise she always used the computers I either handed down to her or bought for her use - I recall she used a SPARCstation-1 from (around) late 1990 until about 1993, a NeXTstation until 1998 or 1999, and began to use Linux after that, so she’s been using UNIX as an end-user for about 30 years.

                                  She was always just an end-user and was never interested in programming or chasing the latest technology; that was always me, back then.

                                  Every now and then, she will email me for help with something, and I’m surprised at what she’s doing. She doesn’t have a deep understanding of the inner workings or theory of how the computer works, but when it comes to software, UNIX is all she knows and all she’s ever known.

                                  She does use Facebook, but only on an older iPad dedicated to just that task, and she is very skeptical of providing any information, posting pictures, etc.

                                  When she first signed up she provided a false name, address, DOB, etc, and only recently updated it to real info - this, she explained to me, was because she wanted to retire “in peace” and not have to feel obligated to respond to former students and coworkers.

                                  I guess the point is that I have more faith in mothers and grandmothers than I do millennials and Gen Z kids.

                                  We are at the time where it’s our grandmothers and grandfathers (or our parents) who are the ones who grew up during the computer revolution. They were the ones working on mainframes and minicomputers in school in the 1960’s and witnessing the entire computer and Internet revolution from then through today.

                                  “Kids” on the other hand, don’t know a world without smartphones and the Internet, and never experienced the progression of the technology or used the older systems.

                                  A 24-year old college student today doesn’t know a world without modern PCs - when they were babies in the cradle, we were using Pentium-class computers running Windows 95 with TCP/IP and connecting to the Internet, and using web browsers. They grew up in a world where sharing information with online services was the norm.

                                  I worry a lot more for the newest generations than the older ones - the average grandmother or mother has better basic computer literacy and information hygiene than their grandkids.

                                  To so many kids, computers and online services are just magical boxes.

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                                    I agree with you that a little tech literacy can go a long way.

                                    I think a really good starting point for “non-technical people” would be “tech vegetarianism” – that is, a watered down version of “tech veganism”.

                                    A good starting point might be deleting Facebook, since they’ve demonstrated beyond any doubt that user abuse is in their DNA, they’re not going to meaningfully stop the abuse, and they have virtually no moral compass to speak of.

                                    So I guess I’d recommend tech-savvy folks encourage non-technical folks to start their journey by deleting Facebook.

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                                      Be glad that you can trust the consumer protection laws in your country to keep your food and your car above some minimum safety threshold, but don’t just take them for granted. They have evolved over many decades of genuine struggle in courts and legislatures. This is still early days for information technology in the general public.

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                                        And even with those laws, if somebody gets sick from eating raw hamburger meat or eggs without cooking them our reaction is not to call up every cook in the world and decry how we can make eating still more foolproof!

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                                          In many jurisdictions in the US, it’s illegal to sell raw, unpasteurized milk, for food safety reasons. Since there are some people who deliberately want raw milk, a black market in raw milk has sprung up. A black market, of course, means an illegal market, and the only reason the police haven’t (yet) shut this down and thrown the people involved into the criminal justice system is because no one cares all that much about enforcing raw milk laws and the cops don’t want to harass the people who participate in that market for other reasons, using the milk thing as a pretext.

                                          I don’t personally care about drinking raw milk myself, and I do think that it’s good that people in the west can in general assume that the food they buy is safe, but I am opposed to laws that prevent people who do want to drink raw milk from doing so.

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                                            They do it openly, too, with that being a local example. The trick is they say it’s “for pets only.” Sure, they’re all buying $11 a gallon milk for their cats. Haha.

                                            On a serious note, there’s lots of info popping up connecting gut bacteria to preventing or causing something. Raw milk might end up being a beneficial, harmful, or some mix. Just saying I’d rather it be on the market in case there’s potentially benefit. Worst case, have them inform people of the low risks and they sign a waiver to buy it. Then, uh, be careful about the supplier.

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                                              It seems there was some progress being made into allowing these type of raw-milk cheese products to be made (or imported and sold here), but momentum seems to have stalled and such French staples are still illegal black market goods in the US.

                                              Interestingly, the artisanal and traditionally produced “high-risk” food products are often safer than the same product mass produced, due to the method of production.

                                              For example, here in the South, fresh squeezed (unpasteurized) orange juice is a staple, but to purchase it from someone else is either often outright illegal (or done legally but highly regulated with alcohol or cigarette-like warning labeling), due to the risk of death and illness from contamination.

                                              This isn’t theoretical.

                                              (But, yes, you can taste the difference between pasteurized and fresh squeezed juice. Blind tastings at my house!)

                                              At the risk of oversimplification, if you squeeze a glass of orange juice at home, you’ll wash the fruit and squeeze a glass worth, and then (hopefully!) clean the juicer and the glass.

                                              In a factory setting, you are rinsing off, squeezing, and storing the juice (of tens of thousands to millions of oranges) on an industrial scale, and any bacteria on even a few of the oranges might contaminate entire vats of product. You are then bottling, transporting, and disseminating this (potentially contaminated) product. Refrigeration doesn’t kill the bacteria either (though it does makes it grow more slowly, depending on the type.)

                                              There are analogies to software and “tech veganism” here. When all your data is with one provider (Facebook for example) or distributed but still a monoculture of software and hardware implementations, then it only takes one crack in the defenses for a potentially devastating breach.

                                              Of course, in this analogy to handmade traditional products, the individual instances/implementations are still subject to the same threats, but the risk of catastrophic loss is spread out so it’s only affecting individuals or small groups (vs. everyone).

                                              This is where the debate comes in!

                                              Does this mean that everyone needs to be “an expert” in best practices to meaningfully protect their federated instances from mass exploitation, or will such best practices eventually become a natural part of the process of implementation?

                                              Does the distributed nature of millions of decentralized federated instances make your data safer from actual exploitation than with a single large, usually corporate, “expert entity”? And we haven’t even contemplated that the “expert entity” is one that may or may not align with your morals and values.

                                              I wish there was more literature that explored these lines of inquiry.

                                              Edit: About the fresh orange juice example and traditional vs. factory methods of production, this is why you can legally buy fresh squeezed, unpasteurized, ‘raw’ orange juice by the glass from a roadside stand or farmers’ market but not in the form of a bottle on a store shelf.

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                                                Re cheese

                                                Ive seen cheese in my local grocer that said it was made from raw milk. It was mild cheddar, though. We buy sharp or just more interesting miilds like gouda. It got discontinued due to nobody buying it. A lot of the fancy cheeses get marked down, though. That’s how I get real parmesan. ;)

                                                Re OJ

                                                Don’t forget the flavor packs from perfume companies and stuff. Most OJ companies admitted to using them. So, there’s definitely a taste difference if they add flavor back in using chemists.

                                                The organic ones are usually stored frozen. Better comparison. Id still wonder if the difference was pasteurization, freezing, or both.

                                                EDIT: We’re looking at about 100 deaths that might be juices looking at three of your links. I know what Im supposed to stay but… uh… just 100 out of 300+ million a year to make all our juice taste better? Something similar for dairy products? Statistically speaking, it doesnt look that risky. ;)

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                                                  I took a quick look, and it seems that US states may allow the sale of raw milk products, but at the federal level, the FDA bans all interstate sale or distribution of raw milk products, so the importation of my cheese is illegal. I guess the raw milk cheese is fine in your state, as long as it never moves across state lines.

                                                  Here in Florida, raw milk products can be sold when labeled as “pet food” and not for human consumption - but that doesn’t help me get my cheese from France.

                                                  I’ve never seen super fancy brie cheese marketed to cats - at least not yet!

                                                  I’m going to end this here since I can’t imagine a way to bring this back on topic. ;-)

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                                                    I just found some online at Whole Foods. I agree on thread. Ill send it privately.

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                                              The very first time I ever actually used cryptocurrency, it was to buy illegal cheese from France on a Tor-based black market website.

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                                              I think this is sort of a poor analogy, if only because I eat raw eggs every morning. The rate of salmonella in eggs is known to be somewhere between 1:20000 and 1:50000.

                                              Worst case, if you eat a raw eggs every weekday from the age of 18 on, eating 260 raw eggs a year, you could reasonably expect to be exposed to salmonella maybe once in your lifetime; and not every exposure will cause illness.

                                              Eating raw eggs is exceedingly safe - and eating pasteurized raw eggs has essentially no risk at all and is sanctioned by the US government.

                                              Raw ground beef is commonly consumed with raw eggs, and is quite tasty! I’ve been eating raw foods essentially my entire life.

                                              The risk of adverse effects from poor data hygiene and subsequent data exposure is much higher than the risk of adverse affects from eating raw foods, and potentially much more damaging to your quality of life, yet people are paranoid about their food but careless with their data!

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                                              And user education from many of us playing watchdog. These companies try to pull stuff non-stop. Especially trying to redefine artificial or questionable stuff as “natural.” Or just hide ingredients or make them non-obvious to the consumer. The pink slime situation was a nice example.

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                                              Why is it that with computers, suddenly the only way I can be safe, secure, and private is to be an expert?

                                              That’s emphatically not the case, though.

                                              If you want to be private, don’t put personal information on the internet. This was how we handled things in the chat/BBS days…you don’t put up private info unless you’re damned sure what’s going to happen to it. If you want to be secure, use easy-to-remember long passphrases and don’t re-use them across services.

                                              None of those things requires anything other than a healthy suspicion of a magical box and a willingness to ask “okay, but what if should happen?” and working through the consequences. They don’t need to be compiler designers, system engineers, programmers, or even particularly technical.

                                              This meme that this is somehow complicated or the ken of experts absolves users of the responsibility of learning and us of the responsibility of teaching.

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                                                Why is it that with computers, suddenly the only way I can be safe, secure, and private is to be an expert?

                                                First part is user demand: people almost never buy stuff that’s actually secure when it’s available due to its tradeoffs or their apathy. Second, there’s no regulations preventing or liability for suppliers damaging customers with preventable vulnerabilities. So, everyone makes things insecure by design externalizing the problems on others. Then, the things people use often interact with each other in ways that create even more problems. The result is a massive pile of externalized problems each person or groups of them must deal with until they address the root cause.

                                                For proof, the market immediately started producing both secure systems after TCSEC was implemented and safer software after DO-178B standard for aerospace kicked in. With TCSEC withdrawn, they went right back to insecure stuff the market was buying the most. The DO-178B standard stayed, got updated to DO-178C, and market continued supplying both certified components for cost reductions and tools to make software safety easier (esp static analysis and test generators). Just need something like that for general, commercial software with a minimum set of practices that make sense.

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                                                  I’d argue that (DO-178) life-critical and mission-critical avionics and aerospace software is a special market segment, due to the very high stakes of failure.

                                                  There is a distinct difference when we are talking about security from the standpoint of this “tech veganism” discussion — we are referring to the likes of Twitter and Google and Facebook and social media companies and information aggregators.

                                                  When it comes to motivations, these companies have a motivation first and foremost to their shareholders and investors, by selling their product, which is, when you distill it, the personal information of their “users” (or the product of user surveillance). The shareholders and the advertisers are the customers and the users are the product.

                                                  I’d argue that the only reason they care about the safety of “user” data at all is to maintain their position of obtaining a continuous stream of it to sell.

                                                  They don’t want to lose it all in a breach, and they don’t want “users” to stop “giving” them this data to sell. “Users” aren’t “giving” their data for free either - the cost to the company to “buy” personal data is the expense of research, development, and maintenance of the end-user (‘free’) services used by these “users”, and the internal surveillance and analysis frameworks they use to distill consumer interactions with these services into a product for sale.

                                                  If, breach after breach, the “users” keep coming back, and all they have to do is apologize and not actually change anything, it follows that they shouldn’t invest in better security, because it’s simply not needed — not until users begin the change their behavior. Words without action have essentially zero cost.

                                                  (Edit: “Wasting” money on better security for the users when it’s demonstrably not needed to continue the business - especially when excuses suffice - and not directly translatable to profitability could even be considered mismanagement, or worse, criminal behavior - defrauding the investors. They are, after all, the highest priority. This lack of caring about end-user/consumer privacy and security isn’t corporate apathy - it’s calculated and intentional.)

                                                  Once the consumer begins to consider their privacy as mission-critical, then we will see changes, but until then, I’d argue that no standards or regulations will have meaningful effect.

                                                  You’ll never even get to the point of passing meaningful (legally binding legislation) regulation in the first place when consumers are apathetic about privacy and security, or prioritize cost.

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                                                Reading Objective-C is not a basic skill any more than disassembling and reassembling an automobile engine and having it still work is a basic skill of operating a car. Not saying that there can’t be some expected skill in operating a computer, but there’s a whole range of skill sets between uninformed button-mashing and being able to read and comprehend source code. End-user autonomy really doesn’t have anything to do with the availability of source code.

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                                                  End-user autonomy really doesn’t have anything to do with the availability of source code.

                                                  One of the things that makes the GPL special is it actually tries to address this: not only is the source code available, but you - the end user - are also able to shop around for modified versions other people made, so you don’t have to yourself.

                                                  I’d argue the freest aspect of the GPL is not the source available to developers, any source-available license does that, but rather forks being available to end users so they can find less offensive versions.

                                                  (I understand that in practice actually finding and evaluating other versions is easier said than done, but still, the benefit of it does go beyond people who can modify code themselves.)

                                              3. 2

                                                It’s a clever idea, but my family already has a word for me: nerd.

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                                                  Not to “beat a dead horse” on this thread (that by now probably very few people are reading), but I’m not sure that “tech veganism” is a fully appropriate term.

                                                  For example, I am involved with what the article would consider “tech veganism” but I identify as the polar opposite of vegan… I’m an avid hunter - of boar, deer, turkey, squirrels - and an avid cook as well!

                                                  Of course, I understand the analogy and the “extremism” implied, but the same analogy works for the case of the hunter/enthusiast/survivalist.

                                                  You might not reasonably expect every person who wants to eat meat to spend hours of “expert activity”, such as stalking prey in the woods or spending the day in a duck blind, learning to properly field dress/skin/butcher/prepare/preserve their harvest, etc, it would be a great improvement in many ways, animal welfare, conservation, health, etc.

                                                  In my experience, those involved with hunting and fishing have a better understanding and respect for nature and decrease their consumption of meat.

                                                  By understanding what’s involved, and doing it yourself, from the forest to your dinners plate, there is a lot of interdisciplinary skills you pick up along the way - skills in mechanics, biology, botany, navigation/orienteering, first aid, physical fitness, etc.

                                                  Not to mention that I often end up giving away all sorts of meat that I’m not going to use to friends and neighbors.

                                                  Perhaps the hunter is a better analogy than the vegan, because many of us who do setup federated service instances and alternatives to commercial services are in a position to share the fruits of our (intellectual) labor with our own friends and neighbors, and get them involved in the process of learning.

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                                                    In my experience, there’s no risk of a vegan not sharing they are vegan ;)

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                                                      How do you know someone {doesn’t own a TV, hunts and prepares all their own food, etc}?

                                                      They’ll be sure to tell you!

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                                                    Great article. I would say that the metaphor hold true: not everybody can go vegan. Vegetarian maybe, vegan most likely no. As you said, it’s a pain to check the ingredients and find vegan sources of food, especially in non-friendly countries.It takes time, it takes energy and often times it’s also more expensive if you have no time to cook. For a person working 3 jobs to get to the end of the month, having a balanced vegan diet is not so trivial. Being vegan, like every single lifestyle choice, is a matter of privilege. While it’s much easier to go vegan than to go full free software, I still think the metaphor holds true.

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                                                      I’m a software engineer who does not practice “tech veganism.” I use an iPhone, iMessage, Gmail, Google, Google Docs, etc. I’m interested in understanding why people who do practice this feel so strongly that using these products and services is bad. So what if Google reads your emails? Why is it bad if they correlate those and your search results to offer a more personalized service – even more personalized advertisements – for things you might actually be interested in buying some day? Is it fear of public embarrassment? Of being blackmailed? Of being discovered doing less than legal things? Have you been slighted by the company before so it’s a matter of never doing business with them again out of principle?

                                                      I am genuinely interested in understanding the motivations behind going to all this trouble to avoid big tech.

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                                                        Why is it bad if they correlate those and your search results to offer a more personalized service

                                                        Mining users data in large amounts allows extracting patterns that can be used to easily manipulate people’s behavior, often unconsciously. The world is building an unprecedented social experiment: “What happens when large ML systems quietly influence human behavior at a global scale in exchange for attention or sales?”

                                                        In addition to that, such systems can be tweaked to pursue other goals, like influencing elections. See Cambridge Analytica for example.

                                                        Is it fear of public embarrassment? Of being blackmailed? Of being discovered doing less than legal things?

                                                        This is the “you have nothing to hide” fallacy.

                                                        Suppose a lot of people in your country are monitored by foreign companies, and a foreign government monitors those companies and extract data from them (both legally and illegally). Detailed information about politicians, CEOs, billionaires and their companies make it very easy to manipulate stock markets, contract negotiations and influence economics. Essentially it’s political+corporate espionage at a massive scale.

                                                        On top of that, suppose a number of key people can be blackmailed (e.g. panama papers). A “global observer” can selectively leak information that ends up harming economy (or even peace) in the place where you live.

                                                        If it sounds far-fetched let’s keep in mind how much efforts were put into surveillance and deception during WW2.

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                                                          I suggest you start with Weapons of math destruction to understand how data-driven explotation impacts you and the people around you. If you’re a software engineer probably you’re rich enough to make up for all of it but not everybody is rich so it makes sense they defend themselves.

                                                          Also if you’re interested, I suggest you my reading list on this and other topics: https://github.com/chobeat/awesome-critical-tech-reading-list

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                                                            I care a lot about avoiding big tech for hosting your own content, because big tech cannot be trusted to keep that content hosted in the face of political pressure to take it down, or just because it got accidentally flagged for takedown by an automated system because these companies operate at a scale far too big for human review of flagged-for-takedown content. Twitter takes down tweets and bans accounts for arbitrary reasons all the time, a number of YouTube channels I like have had videos taken down or demonetized because they seemed dangerous to someone or some algorithm (I’m mostly thinking of Cody’s Lab specifically, which is a science channel with explosions sometimes, but it’s certainly not the only one), gmail has banned people without warning for arbitrary reasons, etc. The fundamental problem with all of these big tech companies is that the platforms are theirs, not yours, so any content you host there is hosted at their sufferance only, and could be taken down at any time for any reason with little recourse on your part.

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                                                              I don’t like being complicit in what I consider morally impermissible behavior. So I try very hard not to use the objects of he attention economy.

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                                                                The bigger problem is that with your data stored by companies with a perfect - and very long - memory and a willingness to share that data with both governments and NGO’s that have very real control of your life, just how open can you be without putting yourself at risk?

                                                                What if the freedom fighting organization you are involved with today becomes the terrorist organization of tomorrow, at least in the eyes of you government (or your employer, or your landlord, or ….), or in the eyes of powerful non-governmental organizations and unavoidable corporations that control your access to banking, shopping, work, transport, even food?

                                                                What if your political position, sexual orientation, deeply held convictions, religious affiliations, or other beliefs today might put you at grave personal risk in the future? What if you happen to change your beliefs? It might not even matter.

                                                                The level at which you’d need to self-censor in all of your “personal” communications is extreme when more and more of everyday interactions are taking place online.

                                                                Are you willing to bet your life that supporting socialism, or Democrats, or Republicans, or abortion, or the pro-life movement would never at any point in the future put you at risk?

                                                                What about your membership in the John Birch Society or MoveOn?

                                                                What about your (very private) support of the NRA and GOA, or maybe the NRL, or Planned Parenthood, or Catholic Church, or maybe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Scientology, or even the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

                                                                Are you willing to bet not just your life but the lives of your children, your family, and your friends?

                                                                In the USA, many supporters of socialism and communism paid a high price for their beliefs. Elsewhere, people have paid the price for their Jewish faith, or involvement Falun Gong.

                                                                It’s naive to believe you are safe because you don’t have anything to hide.

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  Also, with the rise of big data and analytics, a company can know more about you than you might volunteer, and this data is shared, both on the up-and-up as well as illicitly, with other companies and the government.

                                                                  For example, if you order bitter herbs, matzah, parsley, kosher wine, and ingredients for preparing haroset, then Amazon might have a pretty good idea of your religious affiliation (or that of a close friend or family member).

                                                                  Now, Google will know too, because of your order confirmation sent via email - or just your search history.

                                                                  Facebook will surely know, because of their trackers and analysis of your network of contacts.

                                                                  Even worse, your government will know now, because of their ability to access the databases of these companies either by ‘legitimate’ request or by illicit data interception.

                                                                  And it’s not just your religious affiliation - that you never volunteered - it’s every aspect of your private life.

                                                                  Consider that Facebook records and analyzes every single keystroke you type. The US government has a long history of interest in obtaining the capability to monitor, remotely, a persons inner thoughts and feelings. Amazon is working on a device that reads and reports your emotions to the company - and plans to market that as a “wellness aid”. Elon Musk’s new company wants to connect his computers directly to your brain and have access your thoughts.

                                                                  Do these ‘advances’ in technology make you feel safer? If we are already self-censoring our speech and affiliations in our private lives because of invasive technology, how long before we have to self-censor our own thoughts?

                                                                  What do we lose when we no longer have the ability to wear different hats and compartmentalize our lives?

                                                                  This isn’t theoretical - this is here and now.

                                                                  (Edit: As a thought experiment, would you support Uber not giving rides to a KKK rally? But, what if it’s to counter-protest? What about no rides for Democrats? Or Nazis? Or Republicans? Or Jews? Or homosexuals? Or racists? What about pro-lifers? Or pro-choicers? Knowingly allowing these companies such a level of insight into our lives is dangerous - and it doesn’t matter how good their intentions seem today or how closely they align with your beliefs and values right now. History has proven just how dangerous this can be — over and over.)