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Tuesday, November 21st, 2017, 8:34 am

Mastodon is Free Software, But It Does Not Respect Free Speech (Updated)

This is what I get when I log in

Mastodon oops

SO-called ‘social networks’ (I’ve coined the term “social control networks” for these) are supposed to facilitate a diversity of views. Not threats. Not calls for genocide. These strands of ‘speech’ constitute violations of very particular laws and for defensible reasons. But the point being, let people express their views, even if and when you disagree with these views.

I am not vulgar, I don’t really curse, and I don’t write negatively about vulnerable groups; my criticisms are usually directed at large organisations, institutions, corporations, political parties and so on. I never really considered myself worthy of censorship of any kind, yet Twitter has, on several occasions, shadowbanned me for no reason at all or simply because I was being bullied (shadowban by algorithms can lead to that). Time-limited shadowbans are not so severe because the user is typically not aware of them and can still post (albeit the audience is severely limited, it’s almost like talking to oneself sometimes).

Twitter, to its credit, never ever suspended me. Ever. The funny thing is that people in Mastodon say that I should delete Twitter and not participate in it. Eventually, as it turns out, it’s actually Mastodon that censors me. It’s an actual suspension for which I have not been given reason other than some people reporting me (as if that alone merits action, DMCA-style).

I am guessing that the suspension will eventually be undone, but that may still result in self-censorship. I was actually very surprised when it happened and spent over an hour investigating what I assumed to be a technical fault. The above says “error”; it does not tell me that I got suspended.

As Mastodon has just suspended me (mastodon.technology to be precise), I believe it can do it to virtually anyone. Apparently all it takes is a complaint citing something from the rather vague ToS, which can be interpreted as “don’t cause people offense” (or make an “oppressive” environment — whatever exactly that may mean). Even without insulting any other user — let alone a mention of another user — one’s views/links can apparently get one the ‘boot’, without as little as due process of some kind.

Mastodon was always known to be tough on Nazis; it was known that they were strict on free speech only to a degree. After the treatment that I received yesterday, however, I can no longer recommend Mastodon. It may be Free software, but it’s very weak on free speech.

The most insulting thing about all this is that I wrote many hundreds of toots/tweets/other in favour of Mastodon, urging people to join. I also wrote a lot in that platform and had amicable conversations there. To be treated this poorly by Mastodon admins hurts somewhat.

Update:

Mastodon Censored Me for a Long Time, They Just Found an Excuse to Ban Me As Well

So, after an E-mail exchange it turned out they had been silencing my posts for a long time, simply because of volume (people alerted me about this omission of posts, but I foolishly chose to believe it was due to a software bug) and it all ended when, totally out of the blue, I got banned without them even informing me (again, making it all look like a technical error/glitch, which I spent a long time trying to diagnose). The trigger was used was “Islamophobia” — I presume a link to some news article whose content someone found to be offensive. Everything was done to avoid showing me that they had been censoring me for a long time, albeit quietly.

There’s a lot at stake for me: Losing thousands of connections (people), tens of thousands of posts and replies, and no migration option (I cannot even log in to export anything!). They’re suppressing speech and then canning me, in spite of me being among the most popular users.

Identi.ca did something similar 4.5 years ago, though it was not censorship but merely a migration that nuked everyone’s posts.

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017, 3:24 pm

BT Spies on Tweets About BT, Ignores Complaints About Price Hikes

BT mistake

NEW recruits can make mistakes; I get that. Some mistakes are a little more embarrassing then others however.

BT, like many other companies, tracks any mention (in Social Control Media) about BT. I’ve always wondered how that works behind the scenes and under an hour ago, after I had mentioned new price hikes, I got the above tweet from Laura. She must have entered her message in the wrong place in some program because it says they basically ignore such complaints. I responded accordingly (“Is this intended to be an internal comment?”) and then had it confirmed by a colleague.

No big deal. But it helps if you use programs correctly and don’t post to the client (publicly) internal comments which amount to “I’m going to ignore you”.

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017, 11:03 am

If So-called ‘Ownership Rights’ of Money Are Deprived, Mainstream Media Should Speak About It

LAST year I wrote a rant about how I could not withdraw/retrieve my own money from the bank. It was new to me that banks can simply deny withdrawal of one’s deposited money. I actually had to spend many hours and make many visits to the bank to eventually get my own money. A lot of that was to do with limited supply. There was also a surveillance element to it (the bank looking for ‘proof’ of how I would use the withdrawn money as if it’s any of their business).

These things seem to be getting worse over time.

I had a chat with a friend of mine today. He noticed something which, as far as I’m aware, nobody in the media is writing about.

Britain recently changed its coinage and banknotes. It changed these very fast. I was surprised if not shocked. Within just a couple of months they claimed that the old physical currency would no longer be accepted, except perhaps in unusual circumstances. Machines stopped accepting the old coins. What does that mean for Brits living abroad or people keeping their own money (physically)? Not on some computer in some bank or a virtual/digital account…

Either way, the push towards full surveillance of financial transactions is in full swing. And it’s getting harder to ‘opt out’ so to speak…

“I’m not sure if it is significant,” my friend told me, but there is a major cash shortage in Sweden since they replaced all the coins and bills last year.” There is this report about it (automated translation from Swedish).

“This second link shows that there are more than 3 orders of magnitude fewer medium-sized bills in circulation,” my friend continued.

So they may be making wrong assumptions about demand for cash, or rather making a self-fulfilling prophecy about it.

“It looks like they have aimed at forcing the cashless issue through deliberate hardship,” my friend bemoaned/ranted over this. “And, yes, there are obvious privacy implications among many other problems.”

“Has someone out there written an article about this in English,” I asked him. “If not, maybe we should.”

And hence the point of this post. I read a lot of articles every day, almost all day long. Rarely if ever is the subject of payment privacy brought up. The only site that habitually covers it belongs to Rick Falkvinge or his business (VPN). He is Swedish and he is familiar with this subject.

“Rick Falkvinge has mentioned it in passing during his many posts about Bitcoin,” my friend told me. “His main site is not really available and has only a placeholder left, it appears.”

My friend wants to read the site, but JavaScript has rendered Falkvinge’s obsolete. I told Falkvinge about it quite a few times in the past; he said he would look into it, but he never tackled the issue. But I digress…

“There were some articles about an old lady who tried to cash in her savings but was denied by the banks,” my friend recalls, “losing her life savings as a result. She died a short time after that, family claim that the economic blow hastened her death. As it costs a lot of money to keep anything in the bank and more to get anything back out of the bank the economically wise thing to do in Sweden for about two decades has been to keep it in the mattress.”

I did read several articles about that debacle (at the time). It showed that the old practice of keeping one’s own money is becoming too risky. There is a hidden cost (inflation/interest rates) and a high risk (not just of someone breaking into one’s house to steal the cash). See what Modi did some months ago in India. It was incredible. I was shocked that many Indians fell for the propaganda (as if only criminals keep a lot of cash) and tolerated what Modi had done. This reminded me of that time Cyprus denied bank withdrawals and simply grabbed a large portion of people’s personal savings, demonstrating in that particular case the very high risk of keeping money in the bank, not outside it (see what people in Argentina do nowadays). That goes back to the point made at the start — my point about things getting worse over time. Money was always a man-made concept if not an illusion, but over time we see more visible indicators of this. Some cash machines too have been letting me down lately. Years ago I surveyed shops around here to see which ones make it possible to purchase a mobile phone with cash and also top it up with cash (to maintain anonymity).

With few exceptions (sites like Zero Hedge), the subject is grossly unexplored and corporate press rarely touches it.

“I digress,” my friend told me, as “the short answer is that I have not run across any such articles. Do you think that Rick Falkvinge would have interest in collaborating on such an article? It’s kind of his area subject-wise.”

My friend too recalled what happened in India: “India has been having problems like that too and might be included. And don’t forget what China is doing in that area either. Of course, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and the others all want to be the sole gateway for payments. Failing that, they want a large piece of the pie.

“One of the official lines that gets repeated every time though is that it will inhibit tax dodging (small fish only, somehow they are not concerned by large fish) and illegal transactions. It occurred to me a few minutes ago that Sweden has a growing yet already massive black market economy in and adjacent to their 61 no-go zones. So maybe this is a low-key attempt to get society back.”

Sunday, August 27th, 2017, 12:19 pm

Fighting For My Free Speech

Techrights uptime
But it’s actually up and running, something in the network prevents access to it

WHILE Mr. Trump fights for his “safe space” by blocking me (and many other critics of his), I myself never block anyone. I never preached for anything other than free speech, including speech or messages that I strongly disagree with. I never deleted any comments that offended me, either. I approved everything. Even insults against me; even libel!

Not everyone views the world like I do. A lot of people believe in outright gagging of particular views. In fact, many think that it’s acceptable to block my entire site, as the EPO has done for nearly 3 years. The EPO went even further than blocking my site and on numerous occasions threatened to sue me (SLAPP). Others did so too.

Over the past 4 months my Web sites have not been accessible from particular locations. My webhost and I are not sure why. Recently, things got a lot worse. More and more locations in the world find themselves unable to access my writings. There seems to be something in the network (not the server or the user’s end but the routing) standing in the way. We are still investigating this as ‘censorship’ of this kind continues to exacerbate (I track the severity of it using an uptime notifications service called Montastic — a service I have been using for over a decade).

At the moment, my most important work revolves around articles about the EPO. In the past, the EPO attempted article takedowns using threats of litigation. It tried several times. These articles contained leaks, which we published almost daily. Would any other sites out there be willing to create a mirror for it all? It’s almost 2,000 articles (the site as a whole has about 22,500 articles, aside from the Wiki and front page which was implemented in Drupal), which include PDF attachments etc. The CMS is WordPress for the most part (for all the articles). Articles indexes have already been set up; someone scraped these and put some copies on Github, but a complete mirror would help discourage future muzzling attempts.

The state of censorship on the Internet is now verging the creepy. We’re told it’s necessary “because Nazis” (the perfect pretext/excuse other then pure criminality like drug-dealing, copyright infringement, terrorism or pedophilia) and it’s only expected that over time things will get worse. How long before even evidence of crime gets censored and those who document war crimes have their videos pulled down? Oh, wait, that happened only weeks ago.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017, 4:50 pm

Trump Blocks Me in Twitter

Trump blocks

LESS than an hour ago Donald Trump decided to simply gag me and prevent me from seeing what he was saying.

This man child (with the mentality of an adolescent boy) cannot take criticism, can he? Just like in politics. He has just blocked me in Twitter. Makes one wonder just how many other people Trump is blocking, in order to suppress voices critical of him. I did not curse or anything. Surely a sign of his insecurity.

There is an ongoing lawsuit over this habit of Trump (silencing critics).

Saturday, May 6th, 2017, 7:27 pm

Punished for Being Fast? Twitter Lockouts When Least Expected

I have just (for the first time ever) received this message on two of my computers, which I am using to view activity on Twitter and post. I never automated anything. Ever. I post manually from the browser. Yes, the browser. Yet I’ve just got this:

Twitter lockout

I actually had to rely on someone else’s phone as I don’t have a phone myself (one of those ‘crazy’ people who value privacy). Why is Twitter resorting to that? Did they seriously think I was an abuse account? A new policy phased in? New thresholds?

Monday, April 17th, 2017, 6:51 pm

Seen at the Centre of Manchester This Month

brexit-liars

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