I was wrong about Google and Facebook: there’s nothing wrong with them (so say we all)


It’s always difficult admitting you’re wrong. But sometimes you have to in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So, today, I admit that I was wrong about Google, Facebook, & surveillance capitalism in general being toxic for our human rights and democracy … it simply cannot be true given how they are endorsed by some of the most well-respected organisations in the world.

@aral I have serious criticisms of Google and Facebook myself. However, I don't agree with your criticism of Conservancy/Copyleft Conf. Conservancy has actually lost a lot of money over the years because it has stuck to its principles when sponsors preferred that it do something different (eg drop copyleft enforcement). That's one reason they started doing community fundraising drives, because they wouldn't have had the money to keep going otherwise *because* they stuck to their principles.

@aral I certainly agree with criticisms of surveillance capitalist organizations. However there is another problem: the commons is frequently exploited by large corporations that take and take and take from FOSS and don't give back.

If a company is willing to give some money to support free software orgs, no strings attached other than their name appearing on the site, I think that's something we should encourage *more* of. Many companies are taking and not giving, and that sucks.

@aral I do agree that much FOSS *software* is working too hard to bend over backwards for proprietary software integration where decentralized tech integration should be preferred and prioritized however.

@cwebber @aral

I have long advocated a middle-ground here:

**Whenever you compromise your values, APOLOGIZE for it**

Instead of insisting on absolute purity, we can accept that real-world trade-offs happen. But don't present it as normal business, ASK to be excused and explain the situation.

In this case, SFC etc. should have some qualifier every place they reference the Google or Microsoft sponsorships. Something like an *acknowledgement* that this is a compromise and link to a statement.

@wolftune @aral @cwebber what value is an apology that doesn't come with a behaviour change, though? If you issue the same apology every year, and never change anything... it's meaningless

@lupine @aral @cwebber

An apology *is* a change. I strongly reject the rhetoric that statements are meaningless. Is this whole conversation meaningless, the complaints meaningless?

I want love to live in a world where everyone feels obligated to make public acknowledgements of any ethical or political compromises. That would make a huge difference.

Even when politicians are liars, the pretense that honesty matters has consequences. The current attack on that pretense is seriously harmful.

@wolftune @cwebber @aral "what we are doing is wrong and we are going to keep doing it" is entirely uninteresting and gains nobody any brownie points

@lupine @aral @cwebber

"what we are doing is wrong and we are going to keep doing it" is a TERRIBLE apology and everyone knows it.

An apology is not just "this is wrong", it's a *justification* / explanation / acknowledgement. The norm I advocate requires an *explanation* of why the compromise is continuing (if it is).

Would you be up for steel-manning my views instead of straw-manning?

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