I was wrong about Google and Facebook: there’s nothing wrong with them (so say we all)


It’s always difficult admitting you’re wrong. But sometimes you have to in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So, today, I admit that I was wrong about Google, Facebook, & surveillance capitalism in general being toxic for our human rights and democracy … it simply cannot be true given how they are endorsed by some of the most well-respected organisations in the world.

@aral I have serious criticisms of Google and Facebook myself. However, I don't agree with your criticism of Conservancy/Copyleft Conf. Conservancy has actually lost a lot of money over the years because it has stuck to its principles when sponsors preferred that it do something different (eg drop copyleft enforcement). That's one reason they started doing community fundraising drives, because they wouldn't have had the money to keep going otherwise *because* they stuck to their principles.

@aral I certainly agree with criticisms of surveillance capitalist organizations. However there is another problem: the commons is frequently exploited by large corporations that take and take and take from FOSS and don't give back.

If a company is willing to give some money to support free software orgs, no strings attached other than their name appearing on the site, I think that's something we should encourage *more* of. Many companies are taking and not giving, and that sucks.

@cwebber @aral I dunno about that. Facebook open-sourced React, Google open sourced Closure, Microsoft gave us TypeScript and VSCode, Twitter created Bootstrap, and that's just the most obvious front-end stuff. And they continue to fund these projects. Some of the most evil corporations on the planet have given back significant open source projects. Hard to say whether they take more than they give.

@bamfic @cwebber @aral Open sourcing that kind of things is probably better for them because they become part of the community so they are automatically tested in many places, issues are opened, pull requests appear and so on.
Open sourcing that kind of tools reduces the costs of maintaining the software.

So: Looks like they gave that away but it was good for them.

Without mentioning that they get some respect for that for no reason but their own benefit... free advertisement...

@bamfic @cwebber @aral They choose carefully what kind of tools they opensource. They don't open source everything.

There's an strategy behind and, as they are really clever, it's probably better for them than what I'm able to realize.

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