This is a public service announcement: by saying "IT is crap because users still buy it" you are effectively blaming the victim.

There is a huge information and resources asymmetry between large companies creating software and hardware, and regular person who just wants their Internet-connected device to, you know, not do harm. Companies effectively made a business model out of that asymmetry.

We need education and regulation to make IT not crap.

Well, you are trying to do something about it, @switchingsocial, as we are.

Every time we organise a @PrivacySalonLux or a #CriptoParty people come because they understand something is wrong and are looking for ways to fight against 'the machine'.

Others won't ever change their habits as they are in denial or colluded with the system but the more we are in spreading the message the better it is as regulators won't be able to ignore us any more.



I've been trying to introduce some fellow activists (not your average Joe Clueless ) to concepts like digital self defence, de-Googling, encryption and decentralisation and believe me when I say the resistance to these ideas is fierce, ranging from "Facebook is easy" to "Google drive is free", to "how can this help us"


@Antanicus Same here. Activists seem very focussed on their causes, also because those most of the time take quiteca lot energy itself. Most people see computers and digital communication as mere tools to use for their purposes, that's also why a lot of people keep doing their stuff using Facebook or WhatsApp rather than wasting their time getting people on another comm channel which doesn't help their cause.
@switchingsocial @rysiek

@Antanicus @switchingsocial it takes time, but people do get it eventually. Also, it's important to find examples that resonate. It's not easy.

I met a lady at a bus stop once. She was buying new locks for her storage unit. She swore up and down that every time she got new locks someone still opened them, in a way that made it clear she didn't expect me to believe her.

I looked at the locks she was buying.. I could have picked one in seconds, or jogged it with a hammer as easily, and told her as much. She was so grateful to not have her experience dismissed as impossible out of hand.

true 1980s story re Stasi, telecoms and East Germany 

true 1980s story re Stasi, telecoms and East Germany 

Even more tinfoil-hat sounding is the use of ultrasound for tracking, yet also real.

What I find at our community is that many people are really worried, but - just like with climate change, the environment - they are talking the talk, but not willing to walk the walk. Problems seem overwhelming, and this perception can lead to defeatism, and actively ignoring the problems ("I can't do anything. Let the big shots figure it out").

@switchingsocial your Switching Social pages are a good way to get people involved. Have them see they can make changes, however small. We need much more of such initiatives, and 'bind' them together to create an inclusive activist culture with *very* low barrier to entry @rysiek

Yes, agree with article, and very much at play in tech world too. But now you see ppl putting blame at big corp and not changing themselves. Blame is shared by e.g. taking convenience of the supermarket. Eat less meat and you can afford to shop at eco-friendly local store.

In tech too ppl want to fight harms, but when it comes to action, they are busy, busy, busy .. using google, FB, etc. out of convenience. We must prepare an easy path for them to engage

@humanetech @rysiek @switchingsocial We cannot blame people for using the tools of surveillance capitalism as long as 99.99999% of all investment goes into surveillance capitalism. That’s victim blaming. It’s the same as telling people that they can solve climate change by altering their consumption habits while just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all carbon emissions. We need systemic regulation of abusers and investment in alternatives.

Agree. Should've used different word: sharing responsibility. With climate change this is clearest. Ppl talk about the world going to shit, then jumping in the plane to their next holiday, buying gas guzzler, tropical wood furniture etc. Encouraging the willingness to really change personal lifestyle is really hard. Of course capitalism does what it can to make ppl mindless consumers.
@rysiek @switchingsocial

Imho, it is not victim blaming to point out their own responsibility, but the first step that involves is raising awareness.
@rysiek @switchingsocial

@humanetech @rysiek @switchingsocial When you’re abused by a system and people tell you “why do you allow yourself to be abused?”, that’s the definition of victim blaming. A victim doesn’t have a responsibility not to be victimised. We, as a society have a responsibility to build a system that doesn’t tolerate abuse or abusers and definitely one that doesn’t make abuse the norm. The only guilty parties are the abusers themselves…

@humanetech @rysiek @switchingsocial … we must definitely raise awareness but we must put the blame squarely in the right place while doing so. Instead of blaming people for shopping at supermarkets due to convenience (to use the example given), tax supermarkets and use it to subsidise local mom and pop stores so they can afford to be the convenient alternatives. But that won’t happen unless supermarkets are seen as a social ill instead of job creators, etc.

Ah yes, missed your 2 last comments while typing mine. Agreement here :)
@rysiek @switchingsocial


> It’s the same as telling people that they can solve climate change by altering their consumption habits ..

I think that is dangerous argument; a gliding scale. Sure, they cannot solve, but they can *help* solve in their own way. Saying their own small steps are insignificant risks ppl leaving the fight to higher levels, and the normal man to 'lean back and wait' for the outcome.
@rysiek @switchingsocial

The argument also scales. In Netherlands we now have political dealmaking on climate change goals, and you hear serious arguments being made like 'NL contribution is a drop in the ocean anyway. US and China should really do something, and what we do is symbolic'. Which is terrible to get individuals to participate positively.
@rysiek @switchingsocial

@humanetech @rysiek @switchingsocial Capitalism is expert at shifting blame to the consumer and creating niche markets that allow (usually the privileged among them) to either avoid certain core externalities or rinse their consciences (or do both) through further/alternative consumption without actually threatening the system itself.

“Don’t use Google” is very different to “we should tax Google like tobacco”. Much talk about former, we need more on latter.

@aral @switchingsocial @rysiek @humanetech Taxing Google like tobacco would be a good start, but I suspect Google is more harmful than tobacco ever was.

@aral @humanetech @rysiek @switchingsocial This is wrong re: people not taking action. People HAVE to starve them of power. We legitimately cannot calmly allow corporations to control or run platforms of social communications. We can only do so much with regulations (slavery is still legal in the US and dozens of "first world countries").

@jalcine @humanetech @rysiek @switchingsocial I’m not saying people shouldn’t take action. Of course what every one of us does matters. But we’re not going to starve Big Anything (Food, Oil, Data, etc.) through consumption pattern changes among the privileged. There’s an effort on behalf of these corporate entities to limit “taking action” to altering your consumption habits as they know that is not a real threat. McDonald’s makes salads too.

@aral @humanetech @rysiek @switchingsocial I can go into depth about this right now but I won't (because of the amount of sources I'd have to pull in). I will revisit this.

@aral @rysiek @switchingsocial

Being all activists I think all of us are on the same page that things must change, and therefore action is needed. Coming back to my original point: to get more people to become activists the barrier to entry should be really low. Tiny improvements that lead one to the next, until they come to see the full spectrum of alternatives that is available and the toolset for true activism. A path to enlightenment

@aral @jalcine @humanetech @switchingsocial for me the important distinction is between taking action and being blamed for not solving the problem.

Should we take action on surveillance capitalism? Yes, absolutely. Should blame be put on users for using the tools they are coerced into using? No.

This is most starkly visible with "not good enough" approach. User A starts using the Fediverse, but is still on Facebook, and gets scolded for the latter instead of commended on the former.

@rysiek @aral @jalcine @humanetech @switchingsocial I agree and it's also important because scolding new arrivals is a great way to get them to leave. It alienates users and also works to establish power relationships based on experience and purity. This makes any platform worse for everyone. An atmosphere of welcome is more compelling for all kinds of users. Corporate platforms are the output of a faceless Borg. A human welcome is something they can't offer, but we can.

@dtluna @switchingsocial @humanetech @aral I actually know that regulation does work. The way I know this is because getting food poisoning in a restaurant or with store-bought food is extremely unlikely.

That's not something "the market" solved. That's regulation.

@rysiek @dtluna @switchingsocial @humanetech @aral
Well I think this is biased, my view point there has never been that much food poisoning and probably because of regulations (preservatives, colors, plastic impossibility to scale down due to overcomplexities of standard regulations in food... ).
What I am trying to say is that in many cases following (.....)


Thanks for those very interesting references, however, at the time they are looking at, industrialized food still was a minor part of people's alimentation.
In fact I the more I think about it the more it feels that upscaling, regulation and poisoning, many issues are parallel, between food industrialization and social media centralization, it would be worth looking deeper at the comparison...

@rysiek @dtluna @switchingsocial @humanetech @aral

@dtluna @rysiek @switchingsocial @humanetech Yes, regulation doesn’t fucking work. Neither does much else when it comes to social justice in the world. It doesn’t mean we don’t fucking keep trying to get the fucking things that don’t fucking work to fucking work.


@aral @switchingsocial @rysiek @humanetech oh yes, that one, that starts with "coal mining in China" as the first item. And continues with several nation owned petrol companies. The best argument against capitalism ever.
@switchingsocial @rysiek The stasi scenarios are in the past. We now live in a world where the spying is much more pervasive and automated, and far more extensively exploited for private and political gain, than it was in the GDR. As I was just reading about "exit option democracy" - the idea that if you don't like tech companies you can just stop using their products - it has become exceptionally difficult for anyone to fully opt out of those kinds of systems.

@bob Yes, thanks for this comment. Actually, I am extremely happy to see the latter understanding (it's exceptionally difficult to opt out of these systems, especially if you're an end-user who got in touch with possibilities of the digital age for the first and only time using these systems) is slowly making its way. Giving up on ideas such as "users are just too lazy to bother" might help us actually build better solutions than blaming users for their decisions. 😉

@rysiek @switchingsocial

@rysiek I don't really understand why there's next to no liability for this sort of thing. Intuitively it seems like that should be the default, no regulation required. If you collect my data and leak it, you need to pay me for that. Even if you just counted the hours of people's time needed to put freezes on their credit, that's a HUGE amount of money. The fact that we're not seeing that seems to be a fundamental failing of the government to provide table stakes protections.

@rysiek In fact, a lot of industries couldn't even really get going until the government came in and provided indemnities for the liability they had by default. Why is it the opposite in IT-land?

@freakazoid @rysiek While I agree with you in principle, I have to tell you, the amount of money involved that you might get won't even cover your lawyers bills. Determining damages isn't easy or simple. On top of that, "leaking" is a word for an act. Getting hacked because security is crap...that's not deliberate.

@gedvondur @rysiek Yeah, the American Rule sucks. But that's what class actions are for, at least in the US. And yeah, the reason that getting hacked because you did a shitty job with security isn't considered an action (i.e. negligence) is because we have no standards around what constitutes sufficient security. Which I guess does mean regulation.

@freakazoid @rysiek I would say that it's a non-starter to say that getting hacked=negligence because that operates on the theory that there is such a thing as perfect security. We need a standard that shows "best practices" and " reasonable measures" and suddenly we are in a quagmire. I'm pretty sure this problem can't be regulated out of existence. We need regulations on what they collect and if then can sell it without express consent first.

@gedvondur @rysiek I'm not saying getting hacked should be automatically considered negligence. But much of the time there is little to no hacking involved, because people leave your data in open S3 buckets. If we can't agree that's negligence, we're all fucked.

@freakazoid @rysiek I think getting masses of people to agree to anything is an issue. For instance, what you do mean by "open" s3 bucket? Bad password security, no password security, no encryption, how do you define it? My point is that people are dickbags and can litigate to death. The best way to stop the practices is to make them untenable or unprofitable and that starts with iron-clad data permissions that CANNOT be click-wrapped.

@gedvondur @rysiek It does seem like it's going to be up to the government to force the industry to agree on what these standards are. In a better world, industry would be BEGGING government to regulate them after a few companies got ended by class actions.

@rysiek @gedvondur The analogy I think of is this: if I borrow your stereo and I leave it on my front lawn and it's stolen, I have to replace it. If it's in my house with the door locked and someone steals it, I don't. There's no specific law that says that, as far as I know. And whether or not I had your permission to have the stereo is irrelevant to whether I have to replace it in the lawn case. If I didn't have your permission, I'd have criminal liability on top of it.

@gedvondur @freakazoid let's start with S3 buckets with no passwords on them -- you know the link, you get the data.

That is gross negligence if private data is involved.

@rysiek It's a failing of our legal system that those haven't been mostly rendered useless, considering how many other rights you cannot sign away.

Also, I don't think any amount of contractual language can get a party out of liability for negligence.

@rysiek Yes. But asides regulation and education, we also need to accept that there are people who want to have sharp, powerful tools that meet their needs and use cases without requiring them to build them entirely on their own. Just like people want to *drive* cars without having to bother how they work internally.

@z428 oh sure, absolutely. But using sharp tools that can get you hurt should be a clear choice, and not the default state of affairs for everyone all the time.

@rysiek Yes, but sharp tools could hurt you for different reasons. Like a car: Driving at 250 km/h possibly is a dangerous idea - but the car itself should be able to handle it if you need that. 😉

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