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.


>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.

But that is too narrow of a focus. Giving a 'handful' of developers these tools and frameworks which are in large part the same ones that allow them to roll out ever more extractive business practices to the rest of humanity and increase their dominance.

There is a crisis in (FL)OSS and it needs to be solved.. somehow.

@cwebber @aral

@humanetech @bamfic @cwebber @aral there's also the consideration that software influences how people think about what's possible, and by "supporting" free software, these companies are indirectly influencing what people think software can and can't do. which shapes their own market and profits. witness IBM and Google's marketing war over who had the best AI/ML, which took place in software too.

@humanetech Traditionally, the Free Software movement has cared only about the freedom of the software itself, without restriction of what it's used for (as long as the license is respected, of course).
So the only problem that traditional FOSS advocates have with those companies is that they use open-source frameworks to create proprietary products, not how ethical those products are otherwise. @bamfic @cwebber @aral

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