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

Mirko Boehm - FSFE mirko at
Thu Jun 22 18:51:23 UTC 2017

Hi everybody!

> On 21. Jun 2017, at 17:20, Federico Bruni <fede at> wrote:
> Il giorno mer 21 giu 2017 alle 16:47, Daniel Pocock <daniel at <mailto:daniel at>> ha scritto:
>> - systems like facebook are made by the establishment, for the establishment. Zuckerberg is a regular at Bilderberg these days. This brings me to the age old question: can you change the system by using the rules the system gives you? People like the Bolsheviks and Gandhi didn't exactly think so.
> This reminds me a recent discussion I had with a quite popular blogger here in Italy. He wrote a blog post complaining that Youtube automatic filters put his video under "restricted mode"¹. The video is about a "controverse" and hot topic in Italy in the last months, but the content itself is far from being dangerous or controversial at all.
> I commented that we cannot expect real free speech in a walled garden and these events should encourage video bloggers to start using alternative platforms. He replied that there's no big audience in alternative platforms, so he cannot migrate until an alternative platform reaches the "critical mass".
> Well, true but nothing will change if everyone, especially opinion leaders, adopts this mindset. It's a complicated matter.

It appears to me as if we conduct this discussion based on what we wish the world would be, instead of based on what the present world is like. In the perfect world, everybody would be using free software, and everybody would know that it is about freedom, not free beer.

There would however not be a need for FSFE in this scenario. Our mission is to advocate software freedom. On one hand this means protecting the freedoms we already have, which targets mainly those already using free software. These we may well reach on GNUsocial. Or via an RSS feed. On the other hand, it means educating people and lobbying to politicians that do not use free software, and do not yet understand the need for software freedom. These we won’t reach on free platforms, by definition.

Based on this, I would argue that FSFE needs to be present on proprietary platforms to be able to achieve the second part of it’s mission.


Mirko Boehm | mirko at | KDE e.V.
FSFE Fellowship Representative, FSFE Team Germany
Qt Certified Specialist and Trainer
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