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    I agree /u/feoh that “ethical” is a bad descriptor, but I’ll go so far as to say it doesn’t even work for comparing centralized to distributed.

    The reason that Facebook and Twitter are unethical has to do with what Facebook and Twitter do with data, and with their users. Going distributed doesn’t eliminate that threat. Unless you’re running your own Mastodon instance, your admins could be engaging in similar unethical behavior.

    And if you run your own instance, and host for your friends, you might engage in similar unethical behavior.

    That’s true even if “privacy” is your #1 ethical concern.

    Frankly, I also take issue with the “easy-to-use” label for the distributed services.

    This could all be fixed by removing “ethical” and replacing it with more concrete descriptors, like “distributed”, or “non-ad-driven”, or “privacy-aware”. You wouldn’t even have to change the url.

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      Seems author thinks some of these are only ethical if they run on Mastodon/ActivityPub. I disagree. For instance, I was hoping to see Ghost in Medium alternatives given they set themselves up to be incentivized to do good and open things with any money that comes in. That’s the kind of setup I’m talking about when saying we can improve centralized models in finance and so on.

      EDIT: Just saw author had weho.st on there that’s similarly a non-profit. So, maybe they’re cool with that but didn’t know about Ghost. Emailed it to them.

      re email. “Because they have no advertisers, they have no reason to let anyone else see your emails.”

      That’s not true at all. Service providers may give up your information any time they want for any reason. The biggest ones being money or coercion. Microsoft forcing ads on its paying customers in Xbox Live is an example. They might also accidentally leak out what little they collect to sophisticated attackers if their systems are insecure. Think all the so-called APT hacks that affected Fortune 500 companies where they were basically developing I.P. for foreign governments and companies the whole time.

      Eliminating advertising in favor of paid models is a start on incentivizing them not to sell you out. You then want their organizational structure/charter, agreements, and policies to back that up, too, with penalties of some sort if they’re caught doing otherwise. The penalties should outweigh the profits, too.

      re Kiwix

      Although it has some good recommendations, this submission was totally worth it for me just for this app. I know quite a few people in rural areas that might benefit from it. Thanks fs111!

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        OK, so, i think collecting resources to point people at alternatives to popular sites people might have a problem with for whatever reason is great.

        But I have a real honest to god problem with the moral judgement being passed by the author when they use the word “ethical” for said alternatives.

        What makes Mastodon more ethical than Twitter? The fact that it’s distributed? Sure, OK. I can see that. There is no ONE company making filthy lucre off of dubious practices you’re supporting by using it, but can we really call a network that has instances dedicated to Japanese kitty porn “ethical”?

        Now, personally, I don’t have a problem with anyone enjoying any kind of art they want so long as consenting adults are involved, but my point here is that ethics represents a big fat gray area and are a sliding scale depending on your own personal values, so to say that you’ve created a guide to “ethical” alternatives feels like a dangerous claim.

        This may seem like quibbling, but I don’t think it is. Businesses are entities that exist to make a profit. In our current world, all the “ethical” alternatives could not exist without the capatalist driven infrastructure that built them, so beyond a certain point all of this can be called into quesiton.

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          could not exist without the capatalist driven infrastructure that built them

          It’s fairer to say that the capitalist internet businesses could not exist without the socialist-driven infrastructure that built them. Silicon Valley’s clean secret is that it’s built on the back of ARPA, DARPA, NASA and military-industrial public funding.

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            I think that’s true, but I also do think that the economies of scale that have made the kind of resources that many of these more ethical distributed systems rely upon were created by the relentless drive to offer hardware and services more cheaply than your competitors.

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              Living and having business experience in a (somewhat, at least) socialist country, I know from experience it’s real easy to roll with that claim.

              You’d be crazy to pay taxes, and have ARPA, DARPA and NASA offering you grants, and turn them down on principle.

              Maybe when the laser was invented, it was easier to trade know-how for “mixed economy” cold war American socialism than raise private equity, but I wonder how much innovation in our fields comes through government funding nowadays.

              Here gaming the system and scamming grant money is the general way to go, not innovation.

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              You simply assert your philosophical world view, and then under that outlook, you can say which system is more ethical.

              This particular case, of course, falls under the assumption that a website that respects your privacy is more ethical. Which is an easy position to arrive and defend.

              Businesses are entities that exist to make a profit. In our current world, all the “ethical” alternatives could not exist without the capatalist driven infrastructure that built them,

              False dichotomy. Perhaps they wouldn’t exist in the same capacity with the same infrastructure, but they will exist nontheless.

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                False dichotomy. Perhaps they wouldn’t exist in the same capacity with the same infrastructure, but they will exist nontheless.

                I’d love to believe you’re right but I don’t buy it. Services like Mastodon exist because compute power has become super cheap. I’m not convinced that would ever occur under a different system of economics like Marxism or communism or anarchy.

                If you have a compelling counter argument and would care to offer it I’d be super interested.

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                  Services like Mastodon exist because compute power has become super cheap.

                  Services like Mastodon exist because people like talking with other people and sharing cat pictures.

                  With more expensive/less-powerful compute, we had mailing lists and BBS–often hosted by weirdos.

                  Also, without explaining what you mean by those other systems of economics, it’s really unclear how to go about having a polite and productive discussion.

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                    So, the reason that companies like Twitter and Facebook and the like have policies that erode user privacy is monetization, right?

                    In order to make money, they sell demographic information on their users.

                    In, for example, a post materialism society, there would be no need for such because money mightn’t exist. At that point you can pick any number of other choices for organizing society - anarchy for example (the absence of government organizing from the ground up kind, not the Mad Max kind).

                    I am not a socio-political expert so it’s possible my terminology here may be a bit fuzzy.