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Fediverse is a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe”. It is a common, informal name for a federation of social network servers whose main purpose is microblogging, the sharing of short, public messages.
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I could be wrong, but I interpret this post as being about Mastodon’s culture of being against search technology, which I find depressing and irritating for reasons I explained in that other thread as well as this one.
However, I just noticed a place where there is some lack of informed consent here on Lemmy: in the Lemmy UI, it appears that upvotes and downvotes are anonymous. I checked a long time ago, and realized that they weren’t really; the identity of the up or down voter is federated, but it is simply not shown by the UI.
I would assume that many (probably most) lemmy users do not realize this: admins of your own instance and all federated instances have the ability to see who upvoted and downvoted what.
It just now came to my attention that Friendica actually is showing this information publicly, in the form of “$username does not like this” for a downvote! https://rytter.me/display/4c906314-4763-d3aa-4584-11a516756414 🤣
(hey @OptimusPrime@lemmy.ml … why did you downvote that? I myself am also listed there as not liking it; I downvoted it as a test to confirm my assumption that it would show up as “does not like”, and then when I undownvoted it that event apparently didn’t get federated.)
imo these are the kind of “informed consent” issues that fediverse developers should be thinking about, rather than “how can we increase the power imbalance by making it so that only the elite are allowed to have fulltext search… in the name of justice” as so many seem to be hell-bent on doing.
i clicked a button that most lemmy users would assume is an anonymous up/down vote and now my name is listed on a 3rd party website saying i “don’t like” something (even though I tried to undo it).
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US companies not obeying laws in other countries, even when operating there, is by now just a sad cliche.
And here’s the point at which we go off the rails (towards the end of the thread; the earlier section is quite well expressed):
We then have some reasonable responses from others in the thread:
Rich Felker @firstname.lastname@example.org
Arne Babenhauserheide @ArneBab@rollenspiel.social
Finally, a thought of mine own:
Sindarina seems to fundamentally miss the central idea of the world wide web, that is, publically sharing information. This does not mean the work may be used for any purpose whatsoever, as the content of many websites is either copyrighted or CC-BY-SA. But publishing anything on the www or in print, opens it by necessity to aggregation and archival. I routinely save webpages to disk.
To run with the cafe analogy that has been brought up, one cannot post a note to the cafe’s bulletin board and at the same time expect that no one else may take a photo of it, then perhaps share it with some acquaintances.
This is a far cry from the data harvesting done by Google, Microsoft, Apple & co., or the dubiously collected data used to train “automated plagiarism engine[s],” as Arthur Besse put it not too long ago.
It’s fair that maybe the architecture of public inbox/outbox protocols aren’t suited for this kind of use (juxtapose with Matrix).
However consider this: Some people on the fediverse simply don’t want to be indexed. It should be opt-in instead of opt-out, for people who explicitly want it. People aren’t against search, they’re against non-consensual search.
I think it’s important for the culture of the fediverse that such civility is encouraged. Because on the fediverse, the community can actually make a difference. By blocking federation with offenders, we can guide the culture of fedi. And it’s better for it.
Running with the idea that people can “technically” do what they want because of the nature of the protocols is counter-productive, because we actually can do something.
All a search implementer has to do is adapt to that culture, and they’ll be fine. So I don’t see why there’s such push-back against this viewpoint.
I would fully agree that other internet protocols are much better suited to information not meant to be broadcast publicly.
Civility is great, and should be highly encouraged. That’s largely why I like Lemmy. Each instance can guide its community in line with its values, whatever those may be, block offenders, and generally forge the space it wishes.
However, I think Besse’s comments on setting the correct expectations in the public sphere are worth considering.
For a different internet example: all the messages I send in any chatroom on an IRC server will inevitably be logged by someone, especially in popular rooms. Any assumption to the contrary would be naïve, and demanding that people not keep a log any of my publicly broadcast messages would be laughed at by the operators. It’s a public space, and sending anything to that space necessarily means I forgo my ability to control who sees, aggregates, archives, or shares that information. My choice to put the information into that space is the opt-in mechanism, just how books or interviews do the same offline in print.
It’s not so much the protocol as it is how making things public fundamentally works.
With respect to your thoughts: just because the (corporate) internet works this way now, doesn’t mean it should. I don’t want people scraping my posts. I find it creepy. The fediverse (some parts of it, at least) was, for many people and for a long time, a place they could go to connect with people without needing to argue about the legal definition of consent. The fact that people can technically get away with scraping my posts isn’t permission to do so. And, obviously, just turning off your computer isn’t an option, because, at least in the global north-west, you need to have an online presence to be involved in society.
Nobody is claiming that the web is a place for healthy relationships with corporations. It isn’t. The web is a place corporations constructed to make more money. This is about working together to build something better.
I’m happy that you’re comfortable with this model, but I don’t want people who operate like this to intrude on the spaces we’re building to get away from it. It’s just like, a courtesy thing. Will there need to be protocol changes to technologically force people not to do this? Probably. Should there have to be? I really wish I could say there didn’t need to be.
I think Besse makes a great point here:
I tried to single out the world wide web, as opposed to the internet at large, because the two are not synonymous. It’s rather absurd to publicly serve webpages to any querying IP address and maintain that the receiving computer is not to save said pages to disk.
All this to say: I find it difficult to argue that web publications should or could be exempt from aggregation and archival (or scraping, to put it another way). I understand that the ease with which bots do this can be disconcerting, however.
If we stay with the cafe bulletin board, getting a detailed overview of all the postings on the board is akin to scraping the whole thing. If we extend our analogy instead to a somewhat more significant example, library catalogs do the same with books, magazines, and movies.
This is the cost of publishing, be that in print or online. It must be expected that some person has a copy of every- and anything one has ever written or posted publicly, and perhaps even catalogued it. A way around this might be to move away from the web to another part of the internet, like Matrix, as alma suggested.
I assume the non-consensual collection of various (meta-)data is what you refer to when talking about intrusion and money making. Lemmy, like many projects, seeks to offer an alternative to corporate, data-gobbling social media sites, but doesn’t eliminate the ability to search through its webpages.
The web worked this way before there was a large corporate presence. Scraping was common during the blogosphere period and
robots.txtwas the solution everyone at the time agreed on and that’s been the standard ever since.
We’re not intruding on this space. We’ve been in the fediverse for just as long or longer; the fediverse has been scrapable since 2008.
Totally. And while it was scrapable, and scraped a lot, I wish there had been a lot more systematic public scraping of the “federated social web” (as it was called before the terrible name “fediverse” was adopted) back then - I had a lot of public conversations on identi.ca and StatusNet which I wish I could still see, but they now exist only in a bunch of private databases I don’t have access to. 😢
I agree with a lot of the spirit of what they’re saying, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t agree with their concrete applications of it (although they are unclear in the thread).
I think blurring the lines between public and private spaces is the opposite of informing consent. Cultivating unrealistic expectations of “privacy” and control in what are ultimately public spaces is actually bad, imo.
Informed consent in the fediverse should look something like a message on the signup page that says: This is a publishing system. Be aware that everything you publish here will be distributed to a bunch of other servers which are not under the control of us, the operators of your server. When you edit or delete something you’ve published, we will honor it and relay the message, but other servers may or may not honor it. There are many other tools for private (encrypted) group communication, but that is not what this is. ActivityPub is for publishing.
ps: I, for one, am glad that the Internet Archive exists!
Are cafés public, or private spaces? Can I just sit at the table next to yours and stream and record your conversation with your friends?
Yes. Business that can afford it have security cameras. And more relevantly, nobody talking in a cafe thinks their conversation is private and that nobody will overhear it. We use a combination of location within the space, voice level, and body language to show how we want others to interact with us. If you walk into the cafe and make an announcement at the front, you have no right to expect that nobody will respond to that announcement, or tell others about it, or even record you while you make that announcement. That is what posting on the fediverse is like. If you want a quiet conversation in the corner, you can post unlisted.
But unlisted toots are still technically public. If you scrape my profile, you will get them. And the point is: the fact that they are public in the technical sense does not mean I consented to them being scraped etc.
Just as wearing a short skirt is not blanket consent to sexual advances.
Then that’s a scope issue with your server software.
This is what I was trying to say with the analogy to a public announcement. Public speech has no expectation of privacy. Nobody would find anything wrong with recording a public announcement. If you want to have a private conversation, it’s up to you to hold that conversation privately.
This is a ridiculous analogy. Scraping public text, which is something that’s been widely accepted on the web for two decades, is not remotely similar to sexual assault.
Please let me know where you live and which cafe you frequent. I’ll just stand there while you have a quiet conversation with your SO, my phone recording everything you say. You won’t object, naturally, because it’s a public space and if you didn’t want your romantic conversation broadcast live on Twitch you’d have had it elsewhere, right?
Saying that “she asked for it; she was dressed like a slut” was widely accepted in the world at large for THOUSANDS of years (and still is in some places!). Until it suddenly wasn’t. In some parts of the world.
Hell, pounding the shit out of someone for being “rude” was (and is) widely accepted for thousands of years. Not all that long ago, in human historical terms, killing someone for talking back to you was not only acceptable, it was required to preserve your “honour” (or whatever other term was used in that space).
Maybe—and just hear me out here—maybe things that are “widely accepted” have turned out to be shitty things, not things to be emulated and amplified.
(Please wait until I’m in your cafe and recording before you respond, though. I want to make sure that thousands of people are listening in.)
You technically can, and if you get caught the cafe can (and should, imo) kick you out for doing so. Pretending that a provider of an electronic publishing system can enforce the same kind of social norms as are possible in physical spaces is silly at best and actually harmful at worst.
Some of my favorite bars and cafes outright prohibit the use of phones and also don’t operate CCTV, but in many places you are in fact frequently nonconsenually recorded by other people, sometimes streamed onto something like facebook live, as well as constantly by 4K CCTV with audio (in violation of the law in many localities, yet still common).
When you’re having a conversation in a physical space and you notice someone eavesdropping, you sometimes might speak less freely as a result, especially if they appear to be filming. In a public conversation online, especially one readable without even logging in, you can’t tell when someone is “eavesdropping” because you are publishing.
I’m a big proponent of enforcing privacy in online and offline spaces with technology, policy, and social norms. I’m also opposed to magical thinking. Telling people that they can semi-publish, to have some of the benefits of publishing without some of the consequences, is misleading to the point of being dishonest.
I blame facebook for conditioning people to believe that such a thing is possible, through their years of blurring the lines between public and private.
Right, so we agree here. But you did not respond to the second question: are cafés public or private spaces?
Nobody is saying that. Nowhere in the thread I linked is that being said. Nowhere in my comments did I say that. It’s not about telling people they can or cannot “semi-publish”, it’s about telling people creating systems and products that they need to ask these people for permission to do certain things.
Or in other words: it’s not about telling café patrons they can or can’t have perfectly private conversations in the café, it’s about telling anyone who might want to potentially record conversations in that café “you have to ask and receive permission for this first”. That’s a pretty crucial difference.
They’re fundamentally private spaces, even if open to the public. Under certain zoning ordinances they may be considered a “public place” for some purposes if they are above a certain size, but this does not negate their ability to set their own rules and deny access to members of the public who violate them.
If a cafe wants to enforce a “no phones” rule, they can do so relatively effectively. If a website wants to enforce a “no robots” rule (especially if they also want to not require any login to view the content on the site) they can ultimately only pretend to be able to do that effectively.
But you’re again conflating the issue of consent and enforcement. There are things we are able to do but we know to ask first before we do them. The fact that something is possible doesn’t mean that it’s allowed. The fact that something is not easy to enforce against does not make it okay to do it anyway.
What about public parks? Is it okay to walk around you while you’re having a conversation and record you, and then post that conversation on-line? Is it okay to use directional microphones to record you in such a setting? Doesn’t the whole recording-in-the-park thing from the Conversation give you the creeps?
Are you saying that the fact that something is difficult to enforce against makes it okay to do, even if the person you do this to does not want it done?
No, that would certainly not be okay. When I’m walking in a public park I have some expectation of privacy. If you’re walking close to me when I’m having what is intended to be a private conversation, I might notice and pause.
You are conflating private and public conversations. When we’re having a conversation in a public forum like this online, we are both posting it on-line already.
I hope archive.org posts another copy on-line so that if I want to refer to this later, after lemmy and the whole cargo-cult-deadend activitypub architecture has gone the way of the dodo, I will still be able to. And I hope they make it searchable!
Of course not. It’s also not possible to be sure it isn’t happening, but, if/when that is happening it is an unambiguous violation of social norms (and the law, in most places).
Absolutely. (And now I’m wondering if you’ve noticed the reference to this film in my profile here or are bringing it up independently… 😀)
Not at all. I think publicly archiving public web content is okay because I think it has a net public benefit. Better than okay, I think it is a good thing to do.
It is not because it is difficult to enforce against that I think it is okay. The fact that it is difficult to enforce against is why I think that it is not okay to give people who don’t know any better the false impression that it is not difficult to enforce against.
To go further with this, I’m glad that I live in one of the most archive-happy time periods in history, at least when it comes to public data. Much of human history is simply lost to us. The wealthy might have distorted histories of themselves written and some records persist, but historical records are often incomplete or straight up propaganda. Only recently have we gotten to the point where just about anyone has the capability to keep a written record of their life (universal literacy).
But actually storing those for millennia is hard. Most medium degrade quite quickly, maybe even within decades. Certain texts were only preserved via regularly copying, hardly scalable. It takes something like the Internet Archive to preserve a lasting legacy that can extend past the most influential people into the experiences of commoners.
A YouTube link was detected in your comment. Here are links to the same video on Invidious, which is a YouTube frontend that protects your privacy:
cool bot. thanks to whoever wrote this
@rysiek @cypherpunks kind of a side note: your café of today is probably full of people instagramming every bun they eat and keep various discourses online while being physically present in that cosy interior, a hybrid of online/offline and the online part mostly public, I’d say.
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We’re trying our best to build a place on the internet where association is more voluntary, where we can be ourselves without getting dumped on by people who don’t think we deserve to exist, where we can say with more (but not perfect) surety that we aren’t being spied on. I think(?) it’s the last point you’re challenging: ActivityPub is not the right protocol for what we’re trying to accomplish. You are technically right, but it’s what we have, and you can’t really blame us for feeling uncomfortable when people try to do things with our data that makes us feel uncomfortable.
What’s given the fediverse a place outside the corporate internet was, for a long time, the fact that it seemed irrelevant. That’s slowly starting to change now. People are coming into the fediverse who don’t share the same ideals, while plenty have been around for quite a while. We do what we can to keep our part of the fediverse a safe space
Now, what’s scary is that we’re getting to a point where it looks like we might be outnumbered, and the tools we’ve built over the years are being turned against us. Such is free software, but it hurts, and I do believe we have a right to be hurt, and to refuse to associate with people who hurt us.
Great job at working hard to miss the point entirely. 🤷♀️
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I don’t think you’re arguing in good faith. In fact, reading your comment again, I am pretty sure you are arguing in bad faith. And I have better things to do than engaging with that.
If anyone wants to engage in an honest conversation, those who follow me on fedi or have seen my comments around here know I’m totally game for that. But “and yet you engage in society! curious!”-level discussion is not worth anyone’s time, frankly. 🙂
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