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

From: Valentino Giudice
Subject: Re: Truth Social as an example of the limits of free software
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2023 00:46:32 +0200

   Those are not limits of free software.
   The only way this is even connected to software freedom is that Trump
   had the freedom to use the software for this purpose.
   This, however, would have likely been true for most proprietary
   alternatives he could possibly have used. Proprietary software licenses
   don't give the user full freedom, but they are still permissive enough
   for the program itself to be useful, or at least appear to be useful.
   You could argue that the fact that Trump did what he did is still a
   consequence of software freedom, and in some way you'd be right, but
   that isn't a "limit", nor is it accidental. That is the exact intention
   of software freedom.
   Free software authors yield control in advance, to the user, so that
   the user can do things the author disagrees with, without having to ask
   permission or approval. That isn't a side effect of software freedom,
   it's the exact core.
   While I'm personally no fun of Truth Social (although, I have to admit,
   I'm also not a user, so I can't comment much on it) and I don't have a
   good opinion of Trump, I still disagree with some of your criticism of
   Truth Social.
   You talk a lot about "freedom", but, really, multiple different
   freedoms exist and one person doesn't have to hold the same stance
   about them all. For example, one could support freedom of speech, as I
   do, but also taxation (as I also do) so that the state can operate.
   Taxation, in a way, decreases certain kinds of economic freedom. You
   might think I am wrong, but I am not *inconsistent*, having two
   different opinions on two different things.
   The fact that somebody supports software freedom says very little about
   their political stances in general. Free software has supporters that
   disagree politically on other issues. They probably do tend to be
   somewhat liberal (or at least not authoritarian) and in favor of
   freedom of speech as well, but there are plenty of topics, even
   freedom-related, to disagree about.
   >  The name "Truth Social" suggests that they care about truth and
   No, it only suggests they care about truth, not society. "Social"
   clearly means "social media", in context and doesn't refer to any other
   aspect of society.
   > We know that incorrect information is bad for freedom.
   We also "know" that censorship is much worse than misinformation.
   If Truth Social actually did allow all expression equally without
   discrimination, I would support that.
   >  However, Truth Social members value the freedom to pursue their
   personal pleasure and comfort above all else.
   > […]
   > A critical problem Truth Social faces is that the extreme opinions
   make many people uncomfortable.
   You criticize Truth Social because its users seek their own comfort.
   Then, right after that, you criticize it because it makes many people
   Who cares if people feel uncomfortable? Why are the potential users
   that are made to feel uncomfortable (which apparently is bad) more
   important than the actual users that are made to feel comfortable
   (which apparently is also bad)?
   Maybe the rest is a bigger audience. It probably is. It doesn't mean
   that pandering to the majority is necessarily the best choice, however.
   > Advertisers feel the same way.
   If, besides software freedom, there is one absolutely gigantic issue
   with social media is that they pander to advertisers to the extent that
   they do.
   The idea that, as a society (and, in this, I am including online
   services, including of course social media) we should pander to the
   self-interests and feelings of the greedy capitalists that have the
   economical power to have an effect is rather bizarre to me.
   Fuck advertisers, fuck whatever they want, fuck whatever makes them
   feel comfortable.
   Looking at what advertisers want, of all people, is one of the worst
   possible ways we could filter what we write and what we read.
   > 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.
   The issue here is ever relying on advertisers and ever being for
   A truly content-neutral platform, if well studied technically, could be
   rather efficient and would likely be able to operate as a non-profit
   (with freedom of speech as a mission).
   Bending to what the greedy capitalists with enough money to spend in
   advertising want is a disgrace.
   > 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.
   I hope I don't sound rude saying this, but this is very unsurprising. I
   don't know of anyone who ever remotely suspected that free software
   could *not* be used in such a product.
   > This makes me feel that we have much more to do than just call for
   freedom in software.
   Yes, there exist more than one issue in the world, and more than one
   organization dedicated to different issues.
   There is a free software community, which is about software freedom.
   There are other communities that are about other things.

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