A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Avoiding Censorship Online

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Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and most other mainstream social media platforms have pledged to increase the speech they censor. This has lead many people, especially those most likely to be censored, to seek greener pastures. They usually tell anybody who will listen to flock to alternate social media platforms such as MeWe, Minds, and Parler. Of course this is an exercise in trading one centrally controlled platform for another. This means users are still at the mercy of the individuals who control the services. Parler has already walked back its commitment to absolute free speech and other alternate platforms will likely do the same.

So is the concept of free speech online hopeless? Not at all. However, you have to take a page from radicals throughout history. If you look at a lot of radicals, they generally owned and operated their own newspapers, magazines, journals, and periodicals. Benjamin Franklin bought a newspaper, Benjamin Tucker printed his own periodical, egoists printed their own journal, and Peter Kropotkin published his own journal. By owning and operating their own print media they were able to say whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.

Today’s Internet has become centralized, corporatized, and sanitized, but that wasn’t always the case. It also doesn’t have to be the case. Anybody can run a server. This blog is hosted on a server sitting in my basement. In fact I self-host most of my online services. This gives me absolute control over my platforms. I can say whatever I want whenever I want.

If you want to express yourself freely, you need to take a page from radicals of yesteryear and own and operate your own platform. Fortunately, it’s easier today than ever before. There are a lot of self-hosted platforms available. For example, if you want something akin to Twitter, there’s Mastodon. If you want something akin to Facebook, there’s Freindica and diaspora*. If you want chatroom functionality, there’s Matrix (which also supports end-to-end encryption so you can speak freely on other people’s servers). In fact there are a ton of self-hosted platforms that cover almost anything you could need. What’s even better is that many of the self-hosted social media platforms can be federated, which means every person in a group could run their own instance and interconnect them.

To quote Max Stirner, “Whoever will be free must make himself free. Freedom is no fairy gift to fall into a man’s lap. What is freedom? To have the will to be responsible for one’s self.”

Written by Christopher Burg

July 7th, 2020 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Self-Hosting

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One Response to 'Avoiding Censorship Online'

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  1. Excellent advice. The fact that anyone can set up his own server is why I get frustrated when someone screams “free speech is dead!” or “censorship!” whenever Facebook or Twitter deletes something.

    Now if the government started going after people who run their own servers and post controversial views on them, then the accusations would have merit. Even then, clever people can find ways to post their thoughts anonymously.

    JdL

    9 Jul 20 at 08:11

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