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

Daniel Pocock daniel at
Mon Oct 2 07:09:59 UTC 2017

On 21/06/17 12:22, 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?

This was one of the longer debates on the discussion list in recent
times and I wanted to ensure it is recognized in the minutes of this
year's GA meeting.

In the interest of gaining consensus, I proposed a couple of motions
that neither prohibit nor endorse the use of the proprietary platforms
and services for FSFE business.

I also thought of one additional motion as I was writing this, it is at
the bottom.

I'd be interested to know if people feel these are accurate and if there
are volunteers in the community who would want to help in their execution:

Proposed motion:
The GA recognizes the concern that without proprietary social media
platforms, some people feel that our messages remain in a bubble and
that we are preaching to the converted.  FSFE must make it a high
priority to identify and share strategies to burst the bubble without
dependence on proprietary social media and will explicitly consider
alternatives to proprietary social media in planning every future
campaign and for all ongoing activities.

Background to this motion: Suggestions in the discussion included
looking at ways that organizations achieved this type of outreach before
facebook, identifying relevant researchers and experts looking at this
theme, building a directory of other organizations who have made a
conscious decision not to use proprietary social media, establishing a
network to share information between such organizations, organizing an
event around this theme, sponsoring speakers to visit events outside our
comfort zone, developing relationships with organizations that do not
have a technology focus, involving people from other domains in the GA
and more participation in real-world local events.  FSFE will aim to
achieve and document best practice in this area for other free software
communities to follow.  It would be desirable to prioritize this work
for an internship.

Proposed motion:
The GA recognizes the wide range of opinions in the discussion about
non-free software and services.  As a first step to resolve this, FSFE
will maintain a public inventory on the wiki listing the non-free
software and services in use, including details of which people/teams
are using them, the extent to which FSFE depends on them, a list of any
perceived obstacles within FSFE for replacing/abolishing each of them,
and for each of them a link to a community-maintained page or discussion
with more details and alternatives.  FSFE also asks the community for
ideas about how to be more pro-active in spotting any other non-free
software or services creeping into our organization in future, such as a
bounty program or browser plugins that volunteers and staff can use to
monitor their own exposure.

Proposed motion:
The GA recognizes that non-free hardware/Tivoization, non-free software and cloud services form a 21st century axis of evil and that FSFE's mission to fight one of these phenomenons can't be achieved without challenging all three.  Due to the harm that they can cause to our human rights and their pervasive nature they require active resistance.

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