Law in the Internet Society

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DavidKorvinFirstPaper 8 - 05 Mar 2013 - Main.EbenMoglen
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The main problem in combatting Facebook is that it is currently the on-line social platform that most people use, and from my experience, most people are resistant to change. For a long time, I thought it was enough for me to simply deactivate my Facebook account; however, because of Facebook’s huge size, I think a more active approach is necessary to combat it. For example, I no longer that that it is enough to lead by example, and my current goal is to tell my friends about the problems of Facebook and also demonstrate the benefits of using on-line social platforms such as Diaspora*. I know that I cannot force people to leave Facebook, but I think I can make a difference just by letting others know that a desirable social networking experience exists without Facebook.


My impression from our recent conversation is that this may not have been a tenable position for you to occupy in the longer term. It sounded good to you back then, but perhaps it wasn't so straightforward.

But the good news, not reflected in the essay, is that may not have mattered. Perhaps you didn't find it as easy to turn the people around you into free software users who avoided sharing with unfree, surveilling services like Facebook. But the central value of Diaspora* is its determination to implement a crucial migration path to federated social networking. People have to be able to use better technology while staying in touch with actual friends who continue to use the centralized systems where a "superfriend," the service operator, gets to see everything. If everyone who wants to use better sharing has to convince others to move to something different, the result may be discouraging. So the point of Diaspora*, or anything that follows in its wake, has to be that it will permit "soft migration": as your friends migrate, the sharing becomes safer and more secure. But no one ever loses touch with people who remain "behind." So long as you are sharing some particular bits (photos, status updates, microblog entries) with some people through central-storage services (Flickr, Facebook, Twitter), those bits will be stored where the services put them. You will also be sharing those same bits with other people who, like you, use the federated service. That sharing will occur with strong security, and you will be the one storing and serving your bits, so there will be no log somewhere else showing who accessed what you were sharing, how often, from where, etc. As your friends move away from the centralized services, whenever that happens, you stop sharing bits through those storage locations, your traffic disappears from the surveillance stream, and the people who read what you share stop being watched while they do. Eventually, all your friends have moved, no one is sharing anything of yours anymore through the centralized services, and you've regained privacy.

Timing isn't crucial. When we have a strong, federated platform that allows people to do all the sharing they currently do, more securely, because there's no "man in the middle" sorting all the data and looking through it all he wants, that's going to be the "coolest" thing there is to use, and every young person will switch away from surveilled social networking. They will carry others with them, as young people carried older people to Facebook. There's lots more to say about all this, but the crucial point is understanding how the soft migration process works. Your essay would be stronger if it dealt with those ideas.

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Revision 8r8 - 05 Mar 2013 - 23:01:27 - EbenMoglen
Revision 7r7 - 22 Dec 2012 - 18:56:51 - DavidKorvin
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