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.

@cwebber @aral Aral's implicit point here (and explicitly... everywhere else) is that to consider this money as being "no strings attached" is a fallacy. The idea that these companies do a lot of taking and not enough giving presupposes that the giving they do isn't part-and-parcel with the taking in the first place (which, again, is Aral's overarching point here).

It seems shallowly utilitarian (if the calculus is even right) to say that multinational corporations with a parasitic business model are doing something good when they throw their weight around in free software.

@foggy @aral @cwebber A brilliant peace of writing. Tongue in cheek and insanely clever. Your heading scared me for a minute.

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