Is it acceptable to use proprietary software (platforms) to promote software freedom?

Paul Boddie paul at
Wed Jun 21 14:20:44 UTC 2017

On Wednesday 21. June 2017 12.22.30 Erik Albers wrote:
> Now I would be interested what you think? Do you think that - although the
> use of proprietary platforms is ethically not supportable - the chances of
> convincing new people to use and further Free Software are worth the
> punishment? Or do you think that our message should not occur on platforms
> like Facebook or Twitter at all, because it contradicts our efforts in
> getting people to use decentralized services, run with Free Software and
> therefore potentially harm us in the long run?

Although I can see the benefit in publishing information in as many channels 
as necessary to get the message across, mostly because people unfortunately do 
not cultivate multiple sources of news and information, extreme care must be 
taken to not legitimise certain sources by lending them a presence. 
Admittedly, this is a more obvious problem with news outlets that have a 
specific agenda rather than supposedly general communications services.

It is worth noting that recent political trends have made advertisers more 
aware of the costs of being associated with dubious information outlets, but 
had there been no cost to them, they might not have been too concerned about 
being complicit in sustaining those outlets. We should exercise social 
responsibility and consider all such factors, not just the ones that affect us 
and our own immediate interests.

Remember also that by participating in certain social networks, one enables 
the surveillance and behavioural analysis of those networks' participants, 
opening them up to manipulation and exploitation [1]. People need not publicly 
express an affiliation to FSFE, for example, but their habits and preferences 
will be monitored and such information used to target them should the 
operators of those networks see a possibility of profiting from it. This could 
even be used to undermine the work of the FSFE, thus creating a situation 
where the FSFE effectively undermines itself.



More information about the Discussion mailing list