Ending support for FacebookUpdated 19th February 2022
In October 2020 we made the difficult decision to stop supporting Facebook. There are clear positives to using the platform. Whilst this might seem counter-productive to our aims, there are many good reasons for it. It is clear that proprietary software and services, including Facebook, are being / have been used for mass surveillance, to disinform, to manipulate. The interference by Cambridge Analytica in recent UK and US elections is but one example of the power of such mass surveillance. Wikileaks' article on Julian Assange's meeting with Google highlights connections between Big Tech and government.
Tech surveillance occurs through proprietary software / services from companies, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Zoom. It is claimed that such software is free. It is gratis but not libre. That is to say that our use of this software doesn't directly cost money but does cost freedom. Rob Braxman’s video channel provides a wealth of information on how big tech companies are building networks of surveillance to underhandedly extract data from us and and what we can do about it. Many are concerned are that such surveillance will be used with a raft of other measures (examples: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5) ushered in by increasingly authoritarian governments and those they serve to create totalitarian states.
So free / libre open source software (FOSS / FLOSS) is vital for a free society, as described in this excellent video by Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and one of the architects of the GNU / Linux operating system. Here are some ways to disempower proprietary services and work towards software freedom:
- The PRISM Break website provides free / libre alternatives for commonly used programs.
- Change email provider from an oppressive tech giant to an empowering tech collective (For example, Disroot or Riseup).
Replace proprietary operating systems with free / libre operating systems.
- Replace Windows or OS X with a free / libre version of Linux such as Debian) or Trisquel.
- Install a version of Android without the proprietary components that are added to most new phones.
- Leave proprietary social media and join the Fediverse. It is based on principles of decentralisation and federation which diminish the power of a few to control digital information and, hence, us.
- Use free / libre hardware.
These are some of the reasons that Plastic Free Swindon left Facebook. Such support for free / libre software and refusal to support proprietary platforms that compromise privacy and security may be vital to openly and effectively communicate, to work together to deal with social and environmental crises and end the oppression at the heart of them.
- The Social Dilemma is a documentary that explores mass manipulation through social media. "Never before have a handful of tech designers had such control over the way billions of us think, act, and live our lives."
- Nothing to Hide is a documentary which questions the logic of intrusion of privacy being acceptable if we have nothing to hide. It explores the kind of society that we are building for ourselves and future generations.
- The Free Software Foundation are a charity who work to empower users through education, facilitation, legal actions, resources, and software.
- GNU / Linux free / libre operating systems.