I have long championed freedom of speech, information sharing, and equal access to the Internet because I think it is has had an amazingly impactful effect on society. After 25 years of doing so, I’ve discovered the unethical ways some products or services actively squelch free speech to create information bubbles that best suit advertisers. It’s no coincidence that these unethical acts are also incredibly harmful to user privacy.
User data is the commodity of the 21st century, and it’s only in the last 20 years that anyone has realized how valuable this data is. Unfortunately, some companies have since used this data to build massive empires, squeezing every last drop of personal data from their users.
This Mastodon thread sums up my thoughts on this situation nicely:
It’s really only been in the last two years, since the passing of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that I’ve observed individuals becoming more aware of these unethical practices, though there have been some poignant articles written prior to this regulation. My interactions in-person (prior to Covid) and online with people who’ve previously not expressed an interest in their privacy have shown a greater propensity to want to reclaim and restore their privacy online.
Richard Stallman has long been an outspoken proponent of computing freedom. It wasn’t until a confluence of events happened that I really understood the importance of his message.
Because of all of the above, I’m dedicating my focus to educating others about the perils of un-free, or imprisoned computing. Imprisoned computing is when the computer does not solely take input from, or present output to the user.
We can make computing serve us rather than use us to enrich a small minority.
Make no mistake, transitioning to liberated computing and the use of free software is a fundamental change for most people. Millions of people have grown up into computing, unaware of the alternatives or even being aware of the shackles they’re wearing.
One of the hardest activities in any such transition is finding free and open source alternatives to favorite applications, services, and platforms.
I’ll attempt to catalogue several of these here:
|Imprisoned 🚫||Liberated ✅|
|DuckDuckGo or Searx|
|Chrome||Firefox or Brave|
I recommend checking out this site for an easy-to-use method of finding ethical alternatives to well-known software.