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posted by martyb on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:25AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the if-nobody-hears-it-was-it-said? dept.

Twitter made a public stance in 2011 to remain a platform for free speech, having helped fuel movements such as the Arab Spring. This past week, however, Twitter is shown to have complied with Russian government demands to block a pro-Ukrainian Twitter feed from reaching Russian citizens, with Turkish government demands that it remove content that the Turkish government wants removed, and with a Pakistani bureaucrat's request that content he considers blasphemous and unethical be censored in Pakistan. Given Twitter's role in the democratic uprisings of the past few years, perhaps these capitulations just show that centralized control of information is inherently flawed. Any network under the control of a few individuals may be compromised by non-technical means. Examples like I2P-Messenger may be a necessity.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Angry Jesus on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:31AM

    by Angry Jesus (182) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:31AM (#47724)

    The problem is that for the vast majority, like 99.99% of users, central control doesn't hurt them or anybody they know or even anybody like them. So it isn't a factor in choosing a messaging system for them, it literally does not make any difference to them.

    If we want to make a decentralized system popular we have to find a hook for normal people because the argument that twitter is censorable is simply not an issue. Figure out a way to make it look like twitter is killing babies or nubile blonde teenage girls and then you'll have some leverage. I wish I there was a better answer but self-interest trumps social benefit everytime.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by c0lo on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:46AM

      by c0lo (156) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:46AM (#47745) Journal

      If we want to make a decentralized system popular we have to find a hook for normal people because the argument that twitter is censorable is simply not an issue.

      Stumbled upon Peter Watts' [wikipedia.org] talk on the 2014 Symposium of the International Association of Privacy Professionals titled The Scorched-Earth Society [scribd.com]. The essence of the talk:

      Here's a wild thought: don't just offer data protection, especially when you can't guarantee it. Offer data destruction. Not BrinWorld, where everyone knows everything and lions lie down with lambs; a more hard-edged place where, when the lions come calling, we burn down our chunk of the veldt rather than hand it over.
      Forget the Transparent Society. Let's call this the Scorched-Earth society.

      The talk instilled this crazy idea that we may not need to push all of them for a decentralized system, but start using one even if in small numbers at the start. On the long run, some evolutionary principles may kick in - e.g. those who choose to use a "decentralized system" may have a better rate of "survival". E.g. have a look on freemasonry [wikipedia.org], a decentralized system resisting for 500+ years (decentralization: "Because each Masonic Jurisdiction is independent, each sets its own procedures.").

      But again... evolution is a bitch, may screw you by numbers (e.g. start looking or doing something conspicuously different from the herd and attract the predators to your neck). Anyway, we'll never know if we don't start doing it.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @08:56AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @08:56AM (#47809)

        If it wuld be sufficient that a distributed alternative exists, we would not have any issues by now: One of the earliest communication systems on the internet, Usenet, was distributed by nature. Yet people left it for more centralized systems.

        Anyway, thinking of it, this very place is also a centralized system. Which makes me wonder: Would it be possible to make it more distributed (so that anyone could set up his own server, but still carry the same information, similar to Usenet) without changing the basic more of operation? I guess the most difficult part would be to prevent abuse of the power which comes through your own server; OTOH you still need someone to peer with, so bad servers might be removed "automatically" by nobody being willing to peer with them any more. OTOH, back in the days, when Google Groups was the main source of spam in the Usenet while largely ignoring abuse notifications (and in addition was doing indirect damage to it by conflating the Usenet access with their own, closed Groups system), people apparently weren't brave enough for an UDP against Google.

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday May 27 2014, @11:59AM

          by c0lo (156) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @11:59AM (#47862) Journal

          If it wuld be sufficient that a distributed alternative exists, we would not have any issues by now: One of the earliest communication systems on the internet, Usenet, was distributed by nature. Yet people left it for more centralized systems.

          my 2 cents

          1. I personally learned not to care too much what others (or even the majority) think or does. As an example, only 5 years ago everybody except a few "knew" that house prices never go down
          2. the specific topic was "Twitter is bad because it is centralized". Now, an example of decentralized (even if not perfect) system that does messaging and does it reasonable well: IRC. Some may remember (if not, here's the link [wikipedia.org]): long before Arab spring, it was used to report on the 1991 Soviet coup d'etat attempt throughout a media blackout.
            My point? Twitter or not, centralized or distributed, if the population wants it bad enough there's little** the officials can do to stop spreading the info

          ** short of cutting the entire country from the Internet

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday May 27 2014, @01:56PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 27 2014, @01:56PM (#47901)

          No one left usenet (I was there) because of some philosophical belief about centralization or decentralization, the problem was megatons of spam and trolls.

          Your system description sounds vaguely like the old freenet project, which is still going after decades. For that matter usenet is still going.

          You can have a centralized system where a moderator censors scans stores and sells all the "private" data but at least keeps the trolls/spammers out, or a decentralized system that is full of spammers and trolls that make /b/ look prim and proper.

          • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:33PM

            by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:33PM (#47977) Journal

            Your system description sounds vaguely like the old freenet project, which is still going after decades.

            Not really. Back around maybe 2007 they released version 0.7, which is a completely separate, segregated, incompatible network. The previous network resisted for several years, but did eventually cease to exist. As someone who once did a bit of development on the old one, I tried to get it working again a couple times since, but it doesn't seem to be possible any longer.

            So yeah, the administrative part still exists, but that's all. The rest has been scrapped and rebuilt at least once (I lost interest shortly before 0.5 went silent; never could get into the newer network)

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by dmc on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:34AM

      by dmc (188) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:34AM (#47760)

      The problem is that for the vast majority, like 99.99% of users, central control doesn't hurt them or anybody they know or even anybody like them.

      In my estimation, this problem is caused by mass ignorance, strongly architected by an unholy trinity of powerful advertisers, establishment server operators, and 'national security' organizations. (probably other organized criminal synidacates as well).

      By corralling the vast majority of users through centralized chokepoints (look up the recently leaked secret U.S. program of the same name for further examples of the wider tactics and well funded and clearly motivated players)- by forcing people through these chokepoints, the establishment advertising industrial complex is free from meaningful competition. And the spies just happen to love the arrangement as well, since it is always easier to infiltrate and abscond one huge pile of data or chokepoint of traffic than it is to infiltrate and abscond a well diversified group of tiny piles and streams of data.

      In 2012 I wrote a 53 page manifesto on the topic called The Right To Serve [cloudsession.com]. In it, I argued an interpretation of Network Neutrality that would do away with the presumption by ISPs that they have a legal right to deprive ordinary subscribers from operating their own servers. Within that version that made its way to the FCC via the Kansas Attorney General, I quote active duty United States Navy Information Warfare officer Dave Schroeder as saying that the "manifesto was very good" and that he agreed with the essence of *everything* I had written about network neutrality (within the earlier draft he was reading). Humorously enough that conversation happened publicly on Slashdot, and included him saying there was "no grand conspiracy" to prevent people from running their own servers, or that it was a tactic to facilitate government surveillance. Amusing history as 8 months later the PRISM revelation by Snowden rather shattered that poor seaman's illusions.

      I continue to believe in a conspiracy by the aforementioned Unholy Trinity. For evidence, read the 99 page RFC from the FCC that managed to use the word 'server' *TWICE* in 99 pages. Look at how much the establishment wants to maintain the status quo, via the unnecessary conflation of the concepts of "edge provider" and "end user". As if TCP/IP were designed asymetrically in such a way as that implies (educational note: it wasn't).

      • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by Hairyfeet on Tuesday May 27 2014, @08:05AM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 27 2014, @08:05AM (#47794) Journal

        Sorry but the reality is the "free as in freedom" products? Often suck! You can't sell users on "freedom" because for them? What they have WORKS and often the freedom product DON'T. Look at Pidgin, no camera support, voice is dodgy, its pretty much inferior in every way when compared to the "non free as in freedom" products. The same holds true for just about every freedom product, from office suites to OSes, they don't have the features, they are buggier, and when there is an issue its usually a LOT more painful to fix!

        So if you want the customers you can't JUST offer freedom, because nobody is gonna put up with your buggy featureless software for an abstract concept of freedom, nope you have to make it BETTER than the other guy's software. More features, ease of use, nicer UIs, it has to ALL be better than what they have.

        Of course this is what always bites the "free as in freedom" groups square in the ass, because not only do they not seem to be able to make elegant GUIs if they life depended on it but they are also frankly arrogant. They think "Well I can spend 5 hours debugging dependency issues and driver problems via CLI, so you can too"...uhh we have better things to do and the other guy's software doesn't fuck up like yours does, thanks anyway. If you want the users you have to cater TO THEM, you can't cop an attitude and decide your mid 90s era GUI is "good enough" and they can "learn to like it" because they will just avoid your software like the plague.

        Make it nicer, make it easier, and have all the features the user uses most and they WILL beat down your door, offer nothing but "FREEDUM!!!" and you can chat with the 6 other guys on the planet that give a crap.

        --
        ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
        • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Hairyfeet on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:49PM

          by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:49PM (#47986) Journal

          How EXACTLY is this flamebait? Is the truth REALLY that scary? Show me a SINGLE PRODUCT that has won STRICTLY on the "free as in freedom" when faced with a popular non free product, just one. Open Office/LO? Less than 2% of the market. Pidgin? So low as to not even be above the margin for error. Linux? Even with the competition setting a $100 minimum barrier to entry it hasn't cracked 5% in 20+ years of being on the market and the closest its come to acceptance is when it was taken proprietary and centralized by Google!

          If you try to gain with ONLY a vague concept of "freedom" you WILL lose and lose big, you have to be BETTER than the competition...take Apple, the most locked down heavy handed ecosystem on the planet...and one of the most popular! But why? Is it because the users "don't know better" or because they simply haven't tried your "freedom" products? Nope its because the Apple ecosystem WORKS, the design teams are top notch, an "it HAS to work" mantra exists with the company and they are always striving to make the experience even easier and nicer for the end user!

          So you can waste mod points, call me nasty names, it won't change reality and reality is you can scream "we need freedom!" til hell freezes over but without the network effect that comes from significant adoption you might as well turn off your Internet and live in a shack for all the good it'll do, because without the users there simply isn't anyone to talk to, free or not. Until the free community is willing to accept they need not just free but BETTER the whole conversation is moot, you'll never have enough users for anyone to care.

          --
          ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @06:01AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @06:01AM (#47769)

      The problem is that for the vast majority, like 99.99% of users, central control doesn't hurt them or anybody they know or even anybody like them.

      That's what they think.

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Tuesday May 27 2014, @12:20PM

      by Bot (3902) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @12:20PM (#47868) Journal

      Going back to the web 1.0 way, with protocols RFC and clients, would help. What I fear is that Twitter is not the problem but the solution, the problem was a difficult to monitor internet.

      --
      Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01 2014, @04:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01 2014, @04:27PM (#49931)

      54VS0J bcyyavxjtrgv [bcyyavxjtrgv.com], [url=http://drtjnggzkdnl.com/]drtjnggzkdnl[/url], [link=http://nrwoekzfswhk.com/]nrwoekzfswhk[/link], http://ehvxfghtwxdf.com/ [ehvxfghtwxdf.com]

  • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:32AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:32AM (#47725)

    Centralized control of EVERYTHING is TOTALLY AWESOME. It works for United Earth Utopia in Star Trek. Why not send Red Squad to "fix" the Global Twitter Grid for everyone.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Kilo110 on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:32AM

    by Kilo110 (2853) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:32AM (#47726)

    Twitter is now a public company and clearly the shareholders don't care about defending ideals.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:12AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:12AM (#47736)

      The whole idea that twitter is some sort of catalyst for major social change is WAY overblown. It is an available and convenient tool. It would be a huge stretch to argue that the Arab Spring wouldn't have occurred without twitter. I'm also curious what anyone thinks twitter could do regarding these countries. Either abide by their rules, or get kicked off their networks.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:39AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @03:39AM (#47728)

    Nationalize it immediately in the interest of bread and circuses.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:12AM (#47735)

    Also in the meatspace there are less and less of parks and other real public spaces where people are more free to do what they want. Instead we get private spaces that masquerade as public spaces, like malls. They key difference is the instant you do something that the powers that be don't like, guards will shut you up and escort you out.

    Free speech is so 1900s. Jackboot on your face is the future.

  • (Score: 1) by PReDiToR on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:45AM

    by PReDiToR (3834) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @04:45AM (#47743) Homepage
    Is this not why projects like Twister [twister.net.co] have been springing up?
    --

    Do not meddle in the affairs of geeks for they are subtle and quick to anger.
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Tuesday May 27 2014, @07:17PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @07:17PM (#48014) Journal

      Unfortunately it's still alpha software.

      Also, if you have to install it on your computer anyway, then why make a web interface instead of a proper application?

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 1) by PReDiToR on Wednesday May 28 2014, @06:39AM

        by PReDiToR (3834) on Wednesday May 28 2014, @06:39AM (#48191) Homepage
        Have you considered putting this to Miguel?

        Especially if you're a programmer and have the time to help him do it, unlike me when I put something to him and he said (I paraphrase) 'get on with it, then!' lol

        I run half of it on my server and log into it from my phone and laptop. I've no problem with a always-on device running on mains doing the heavy lifting so my Android doesn't have to. It uses masses of power to run the Android program, and a goodly chunk of data.
        --

        Do not meddle in the affairs of geeks for they are subtle and quick to anger.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:16AM (#47755)

    I can't understand how there can be anyone still there, first there was beta, but now, classic is broken as well thanks to browser killing floating ads and they can't even update their certificate.
    Beta has improved in that now I can't see how horrible it is because it fails to render. Seriously, if they don't want the site and its users they could sell it or just put up a page saying "sorry, this site was terminated you can download antivirus plus 2015 for free *here*". Please, someone put a bullet through ./ servers.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @09:50AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @09:50AM (#47824)

      Please, someone put a bullet through ./ servers.

      I'm sure the people at dot slash [dotslash.co.za] would not appreciate it if someone put a bullet through their servers out of hate for a completely unrelated company. :-)

  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:17AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @05:17AM (#47757) Journal

    Did I mention that centralization is the least of Twitter's problems? I mean, centralize what? It is, after all, Twitter!!! I oft like the quote the line from the Ghostbusters Movie (the one with Mortensen Vigo in it), where the flunky says, quote "You are like the buzzing of flies to him!!!" So it is with Twitter to every sane person on the planet. Twitter users are Twits who cannot express concepts in more than 140 characters, and so are excluded from the Monty Python "Upper Class Twit" Olympics. I will definitely report this to the Ministry of Silly Walks, since it does not seem to be approved by Central Authorities. And by the way, why do we even bother?

    --
    #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by SGT CAPSLOCK on Tuesday May 27 2014, @06:06AM

    by SGT CAPSLOCK (118) on Tuesday May 27 2014, @06:06AM (#47771) Journal

    What does Twitter bring to the table that other messaging methods don't, anyway? I'm asking honestly, from the perspective of someone who has never used it and probably never will.

    What's innovative enough about it that it has become so popular? Why does its censorship even matter to people? From what I've heard, it's always had comment moderation in one form or another, just like many forums and IRC servers on the Internets do.

    So why do people use it instead of moving on to better, more open, freer messaging systems that provide similar or better functionality in the first place? That's my only possible response to TFA since I can't fathom that this is actually new news.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @08:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27 2014, @08:59AM (#47810)

      From what I've heard, the thing which originally made it popular was the SMS interface (which also is the origin of the length limit). I guess today only few care about the SMS interface, but the network effect kicked in.

    • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Tuesday May 27 2014, @06:08PM

      by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 27 2014, @06:08PM (#47995) Journal

      Because it brings SMS to the world, and allows a person to send a txt from a phone in a few seconds and have it reach thousands instantly?

      Sadly this is EXACTLY the bad attitude I was pointing out and why "free" products never go anywhere, instead of looking at it from a designer perspective and saying "What features can our free product bring that will make users like it more than twitter?" you get elitist assholes like the guy that posted above you about how twitter users are all morons..and then the free community wonders why nobody uses their "free as in freedom" software!

      Don't complain when the future is nothing but locked down, corporate controlled, more proprietary than a 1983 PC where everything you do has to go through Corp-Net (and be approved) before it goes anywhere because NOW is the time to change it, NOW when the tech is still up in the air and the users aren't completely locked in and are willing to try anything that comes off as cool and new, but instead all we'll hear from the free community is insults and "they should do things our way". If you don't offer anything truly BETTER than the other guy don't be surprised when nobody chooses your software.

      --
      ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.