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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.

3 Responses to “Mastodon is Free Software, But It Does Not Respect Free Speech (Updated)”

  1. Nathan Hawks Says:

    I got banned from mastodon.xyz yesterday after a fakeleft “anarchist antifascist” crybully started and then lost an argument. Admittedly I said some very stupid things but the manner of handling it was pretty much what you’d expect from a single admin being crybullied into believing one of their lefter-than-thou users was actually a fascist. In my case I believe they deleted all my content, and then the admin immediately tooted a tip on how to download your content.

    I led two protests in DC against the Iraq/Afghanistan war, I co-ran a community arts center in a poor neighborhood, I launched an antiwar and anti-disinfo website in October of 2001, but I’m being silenced and those people are calling themselves the left.

    We have to get away from these public-facing sites where it’s basically guaranteed that fakeleft Ruxpins will come along to crybully-nuke your community.

  2. Nathan Hawks Says:

    PS Why aren’t you on Minds?

  3. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    I heard about Minds, never thought of joining (yet)

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