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Re: Truth Social as an example of the limits of free software

From: Paul Sutton
Subject: Re: Truth Social as an example of the limits of free software
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2023 08:06:18 +0100

Good post, however the decision to use free software is taken by humans,and the decision to respect or acknowledge the license is also a human decision. So is the problem with people rather than the software.

Another problem seems to be the media, obsessed with headlines and generating income from in some cases poor, lazy and sloppy journalism, it sells ads so who cares, but people want 'instant' updates this is very difficult with fast developing stories. It takes time to investigate, fact check and write. only made headlines because Trump was behind it. Mastodon made the headlines briefly as there was a big exodus from Twitter, but the media don't want to give these smaller players equal air time and given how Mastodon is being reported as hard to use, perhaps that is a 'good' thing.

Where does freedom to write and publish balance between earning enough money to live, one of the reasons facebook can't carry news is that they don't want to pay media outlets for that news as per recent laws, the downside of what this law has done, is that while it fixes payment in the case of the fires in Canada where people NEED the news, they didn't get the updates needed.

I am not sure happened in Maui but it seems the warning was sent out via social media as the sirens failed, but we need to wait for the investigation to find out what actually happened there.

All we can do is keep going and promote free software in the best light we can, listen to any criticism, and acknowledge this and address the issues / concerns raised.


On 04/09/2023 23:23, Akira Urushibata wrote:
Last month I posted a message here on the problems of non-free
software in voting machines.  I was pointed out that free software
does not completely solve the problems; even with free software there
are numerous opportunities for bad actors to upset the process.

I understand the limits of free software.  One problem I identify is
that some people use free software not because they value freedom, but
simply because it is economical to do so.  The great charm of free
software is absence of charge.  Often there are additional merits:
quality is high, problems are few, documentation is reliable and there
exists a community of engineers who understand the code.  People who
exploit the "cheapness" do nothing to promote free software and its
philosophy; they do not say: "This product is possible thanks to the
free software packages X, Y, Z and many more.  We are grateful to all
the develpers who worked on them while making this available to the
public on gracious terms."

The Truth Social social media service is an example of a product
developed, owned and used by people who care little of the liberty
which free software makes possible.  Truth Social uses Mastadon as its
back-end and Soapbox as its front-end.  They released their derived
work for public testing without making available the source code in
violation of the license.  (Mastodon and Soapbox are AGPL.)  They
eventually released the source code in .zip format.

When Truth Social was launched, it proclaimed to be a "big tent"
platform allowing for "free expression" without "discriminating on the
basis of political ideology".  The name "Truth Social" suggests that
they care about truth and society.  In reality Truth Social is a chamber
where extreme opinions far from the truth circulate.  It is for people
who like to say and hear such things.  We know that incorrect
information is bad for freedom.  However, Truth Social members value
the freedom to pursue their personal pleasure and comfort above all
else.  For them what makes them feel good is "truth" and such good
feeling is the foundation of "social" interaction.

A critical problem Truth Social faces is that the extreme opinions
make many people uncomfortable.  They will never consider signing up
to participate in the dialogue.  Advertisers feel the same way.  As a
result the platform is financialy insecure.  It is estimated that it
loses 1.7 million dollar each month.  It started out with 37 million
dollars in late 2021 - early 2022.  Without additional funds, it won't
be able to continue for long.  Elon Musk's X (foremerly Twitter) faces
a similar fate.  A little inspection reveals that under Musk's rule it
has followed a course similar to that of Truth Social.

I have taken a look into Truth Social here but my main objective is to
bring attention to the limits of free software.  It appears to me that
freedom is good, but it can be combined with bad things.  Literacy
greatly enhances one's freedom but one can argue that efforts to
eradicate illitearcy violate the illiterate man's freedom to remain
so.  In the above I have shown that free software can be used in a
product which spreads falsehood, encourages ignorance and
irrationality and endorses greed, selfishness and lack of gratitude.
This makes me feel that we have much more to do than just call for
freedom in software.

In classical Chinese philosophy, Lao Zi stresses freedom.  Confucius
preaches sound education, consideration toward others, gratitude and
rituals.  Lao Zi advocates small communities of people living simple
lives.  Confucius and his followers refined a body of thought which
would later support imperial dynasties.  Unfortunately it became
excessively sophisticated.  Combined with a writing system which
employs more than a thousand characters this led to a stark class
distinction between the literate and the illiterate.


Truth Social - Wikipedia
(See "Software")

Trump's Social Media Platform and the Affero General Public License
(of Mastodon) - Conservancy Blog - Software Freedom Conservancy

The Trump Truth Social network removes the most freedom-friendly
features of the Fediverse

On Trump's Truth Social: Ads for Miracle Cures, Scams and Fake
The New York Times

Trump Media's proposed merger partner Digital World faces crucial vote
The Washington Post

How to Lose Money: Buy Digital World Acquisition Corp.

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Paul Sutton, Cert Cont Sci (Open)
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