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Mastodon is Actually a Lot Worse Than Twitter When it Comes to Free Speech. Avoid It.

Mastodon is Oppressive

Mastodon oops

It has been three days since the ban (“suspension” they said) and it turns out I was wrong to believe that this was temporary. It’s actually a lot worse than this. They added insult to injury.

As it turned out, the Mastodon network had effectively shadowbanned me for months. This isn’t the fault of one person or one instance because — as it turns out — the network/federation maintains some sort of blacklists for arbitrarily silencing particular instances/people. So even if I self-hosted my toots, I would be visible/active but blacklisted. What’s the point of such a federation then? It’s pure marketing from Mastodon! It’s a lie. And other people (elsewhere) have pointed this out too. It’s worse than Twitter in that regard. The only difference is that the code is “open” and one can run it oneself (outside the entire network).

It “sounds like mastodon is run by crybullies,” one person told me (MinceR). “Though it’s getting worse it has not bottomed out yet,” another person told me. “Be that as it may, reflecting on Mastodon I have always worried about how it is implemented in practice. While it’s great that it is federated to some extent, the nodes are basically fiefdoms controlled by a local sysop who turfs people out if they don’t both agree 100%. Of course people can and do then start their own nodes, becoming sysops themselves, but then the other sysops go out of their way to block the new nodes that they are not in 100% agreement with. Thus balkanization of ideas and populations continues.”

As I then pointed out, moving from node to node also means that the address of the user changes, which leads to other issues. It’s like starting from scratch all over again.

They had me shadowbanned for several months (people told me, but I naively thought it was a bug), so it’s clear they just didn’t want me there, as if I was some kind of radical or something. Twitter never treated me this badly; neither did Identi.ca or Diaspora*. So I wanted to concisely write about it and warn other people to stay away from Mastodon.

The sysop in question does not reinstate my account. He does not even respond to my E-mails. He’s rather arrogant about it and talks to me as though I, a person who brought many new users to his instance, am just a nuisance. What a nerve. What an attitude.

I decided that my posts about it (or tone) would be less gently-worded when the irreversibility of the ban is confirmed. Being gentle with words would not be useful/effective at warning other people, including existing users in that network.

A friend of mine called it “nasty stuff,” noting that “authoritarianism is ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ even to people who don’t dare admit it…”

I don’t want to name any names, but the sysop in question has depression problems, which he admits in his own blog. He is an Apple fan and his latest post says: “I’ve got an appointment tomorrow with my psychiatrist to follow-up about progress on the new med, hopefully I’ll be up to a therapeutic dose within another week or so.”

So a bunch of oddballs run the instances and when they get angry at something (like the volume I post or maybe even my criticism of Apple) they just toss me out without prior warning.

I cannot even get back in just to export my contacts (I was banned without notice!). What good is a federation where the sysops can throw you out and deny access to something as basic as your contacts?

Avoid Mastodon. The underlying software may not be garbage, but the people who manage the Mastodon network are garbage. And they’ll shadowban or even ban people whose views are quite reasonable. Game over.

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.

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”.

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.

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).

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?

Twitter is Trying to Drive Out Particular High-Profile Accounts, Based on Nothing Illegitimate That They Did

OVER the past 12 days Twitter has been on some sort of campaign against me, which I doubt is purely powered by algorithms, for reasons I explained here yesterday. I spoke to Wikileaks yesterday and they too said they had heard of similar things. I may be one of several accounts that are targeted, so it’s worth documenting everything. I should clarify that, to the best of my knowledge, I never violated Twitter’s ToS. This morning I got shadowbanned again, for absolutely no reason that I can think of, such as commenting on Wikileaks, being ‘rude’ to someone, critical of something, highlighting a tweet (mention), or posting ‘too’ much. Nothing. To make matters worse, the frequency of the bans is increasing. Over time it gets more frequent (the duration too had already increased prior to that, it’s always 24 hours long, not 6 or 12 hours long). It has escalated since 12 days ago, which means that my time outside the box, so to speak, is getting smaller and smaller (now it’s just a few hours before the subsequent shadowban). In my previous 2 articles on the topic I explained possible reasons for this, or rather, utterly poor reasons for any such actions by Twitter (I cannot even think or have a guess at reasons anymore). Here is what my tweets’ traffic has looked like over the past 12 days, corresponding or agreeing with the above trend (growing frequency of bans).

twitter-suppression

It’s incredible, isn’t it? Based on what I’ve seen online (relatively shallow research), I am far from alone. Here is one example that I stumbled upon (a high-profile account). This seems to be related to some of the latest Twitter policy changes, which are cryptic and rather offensive to all those who contributed — free of charge — a lot of so-called ‘content’ for Twitter to make money from.

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