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@kawaiipunk

I just blocked @8Qee0I/... because they critcised someone for blocking someone else. You shouldn't have to justify your own #freelistening

Free listening is just as important as free speech.

@Gordon
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@Mel (hamnox)

I am one of the people blocked based on being part of that pub, and I'm rather put out by it. @Milliways was not actually my introduction to scuttlebutt, it was just the impetus for me to give it another shot after a stale first start on another computer.

I'm not about to start a campaign against @andrestaltz's choices, because yeah I do believe people should get to control their own listening, but I still wish I hadn't been muted pre-emptively based on other people's actions.

@PDV

Care to justify why you think free listening is as important as speech?

I think there's a strong case that it isn't. Frank exchanges of views, even if unpleasant, are net-positive for the world, because it is easier for a true belief to gain support than a false one when there is regular open debate. Silencing any viewpoint, no matter how nasty, reduces the ability for open dialogue to pull people away from it.

I can understand blocking me; I'm obnoxious and abrasive. Blocking everyone in the pub I created to pull a subculture away from Tumblr, though? That's just petty and discriminatory.

@cryptix

@PDV afaict kawaii is blocking neither you nor your pub.

Frank exchanges of views, even if unpleasant, are net-positive for the world

that might be true in some cases but if one gets talked down and feels unrespected repeatedly: why should they keep up with that? link for completness: free listening manifesto

@mikey

I can understand blocking me; I'm obnoxious and abrasive

hi @PDV, you're not the only one who's obnoxious and abrasive here, the difference is that you don't seem to want to listen, you're absolutely convinced of your own viewpoints as being objective truths, and you provide questionable evidence for your opinions yet expect others to provide unquestionable evidence for their opinions. i think we have a different understanding of what it means to have an open dialogue, to me any conversation between two or more people should involve empathy and trying to understand our inter-subjective perspectives, not just repeatedly standing on a soapbox to talk down to everyone else.

@PDV

Kawaii is not, but @andrestaltz is.

I dislike the manifesto because it makes an old and tiresome error of thinking that someone who speaks into an empty auditorium is exercising their free speech. They are not. If you bully someone into only talking in private, or shame people away from going to listen to them, you have restricted their freedom of speech just as much as any law can.
The act of one person does not abolish the right to free speech. But the act of one voter doesn't change an election. It would be morally fucked-up to mandate voting, but we laud it as a good thing and encourage it however we can. For the same reason, while it would be fucked-up to require everyone to listen to everyone else, we should shame people who block others and discourage it however we can. Especially when it's done en-masse or targeting a group.

@Dominic

If the auditorium is empty who's fault is that? If the audience chooses not to listen, they are exercising their freedom to choose. I see many people that claim to love freedom but seem to love only their own freedom, and not the freedom of others. Then they confuse the empty auditorium with censorship, but those people didn't stay home because they were afraid the government would imprison them! they just had better things to do!

If the government doesn't throw you into jail for publishing ideas they don't like, that's freedom of speech. If no one buys your book, or they say "this book is rubbish", you still have freedom of speech, your speech just didn't appeal sufficiently to an form an audience.

I wouldn't say that freedom of speech or freedom of listening is better than the other, but just that modern communication tools have explicitly enhanced freedom of speech more than they have freedom of listening, so there is some catching up to do on the listening side.

@PDV

modern communication tools have explicitly enhanced freedom of speech more than they have freedom of listening

@Dominic, I strenuously disagree with you on this point; the reverse is true. Modern communication tools have enhanced freedom of not-listening dramatically, hence the concern about echo chambers and insulated bubbles on modern social media. (Facebook most notoriously, but for opposite sides of politics /r/The_Donald and tumblr are even stronger examples of this phenomenon in action.) It has gotten easier and easier to only hear your side of the story, and harder and harder to consume a diverse set of viewpoints even if you want to (and I do want to).

Freedom of speech, on the other hand, has suffered, as the main peer-to-peer communication venues have gone to being in the public sphere, accessible to all*, like public parks and anonymous letters to the newspaper editor, to being on platforms owned, operated, and wholly beholden to corporations, like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. So while the government has...mostly...not restricted speech, if a handful of companies don't like you or your views, it doesn't matter how much you speak because no one's going to hear you.

*'all' meaning, for most of history, all whites. And probably also gender-segregated.

@Dominic

@PDV what opinions do you have or want to read that are so toxic they cannot be published on reddit, twitter, facebook, youtube? I mean, as someone who has poked around stormfront on one occasion, read a lot of neoreactionary backlog, etc... I really don't think that people with terrible ideas have too much difficulty. Centralized services end up having to moderate, but they are usually so lazy and incompetent, that most things can sneak through or sneak around. Not to mention, when they do get banned they can make a big deal about it and attain some forbidden fruit mystique.

I frequently encounter things I disagree with. I think the filter bubble is over stated. The subject of blocking is one that is frequently a debate around here. Some people are in favor of blocking and block lots, some people block very few people, and are against blocking. I'm a moderate. I don't really block many people, but I support people who choose to block. If a few people block you, there are still likely many who don't. :shrug:

@Dominic

Additional thoughts: free speech just means that particular people don't have the authority to choose what others see and read. The overton window is not contrary to free speech.

There are still ideas that people find so shockingly radical or patently absurd that you get... empty auditoriums. I not against people, at a cultural level, deciding that some things are okay and other things not okay. I mean, I think they are gonna do that whether or not I am okay with it. They might pretend they are not doing it but are probably still doing it.

@Thunder (mobile phone)

I don't really agree with blocking unless it's actual spam, harmful/illegal content or chat bots..

blocking just creates bubbles that agree to your opinions which can lead to extremes, due to no criticism from people with differing opinions.

This way communities that think racism is okay can develop online, they just exclude everyone with different opinions.

Same goes for what people call "feminazis", which often are famous for blocking everyone that disagrees with them on Twitter and paint normal people as nazis, sexists, racists or whatever since they don't align with their extremist values (that they think are normal since they blocked all the normal people, so everyone on their time-line/ in their mentions agrees with them)

tl;dr: it's a slippery slope

but in the end: whatever floats your boat, just my way of thinking here. don't know what was going on here anyway

@jennie

@dinosaur you're so so right! "Debate Me!" people are always getting outraged when people get tired of taking part in their never ending discourse berating. Like, I promise I considered your point of view, it just didn't convince me of anything. It's not because you haven't argued long enough, I just don't like the way you see the world! (And I don't think it's rooted in objective facts as much as you want to believe).

Once I understand we're not going to convince each other of anything, I should be allowed to disengage from the conversation without being deemed a corrosive threat to free speech. Being expected to get into an aggression-having contest for the sake of "exchanging ideas," when that's clearly not even what's going on anymore, is exhausting.

That being said, I'm not blocking @PDV. I think they'd enjoy it too much if I did ;)

@bundy
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@Gordon
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@PDV

There's a useful notion from disability rights of tax-like restrictions and ban-like restrictions. A ban-like restriction keeps you from doing the thing at all. A tax-like restriction makes it harder, sometimes much harder, but doesn't make it impossible if you're willing to try very hard.

Social media does not, for the most part, operate as ban-like restrictions. It is possible to talk about, for example, the Human Biodiversity thesis (different races differ in meaningful ways on traits) on Facebook. You are unlikely to be banned. You are, however, likely to be suppressed by the algorithm that displays content to others. Similarly, reddit doesn't ban /r/The_Donald (because they care about free speech), but they do suppress it from the homepage, thus making it impossible to find unless you go looking for it.

That's the main pattern by which social media inhibits free communication: "impossible to find unless you go looking for it". 95% of the population will never go looking for it; it won't even occur to them that they could. This is true even for things well within the Overton window. If I want to see what educated Republicans think of <policy X>, I'll need to go looking for it, and it won't be easy. Doubly so if I want to distinguish their opinions from those of newspaper columnists.

@jennie

It is possible to talk about, for example, the Human Biodiversity thesis (different races differ in meaningful ways on traits) on Facebook

Oh, this garbage.... I guess I was wrong, I am blocking you after all :kissing_heart:

@PDV

For mentioning a controversial idea you're blocking me? Wow, your worldview sure is fragile.

@Dominic

@PDV so, because the internet isn't sufficiently well organized for your purposes, it's censored?
Your ideas on what free speech is seems somewhat squishy to be honest.

If I want to see what educated Republicans think of <policy X>, I'll need to go looking for it, and it won't be easy. Doubly so if I want to distinguish their opinions from those of newspaper columnists.

I think you are looking for conservapedia

@PDV

That doesn't contain educated Republicans. It contains evangelicals. If you think that's what educated Republicans look like, you're in a pretty strong filter bubble, much stronger than you think.

@Dominic

that was a joke!

You are probably a good example of what I think an educated republican might think.

@cryptix
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@interfect

Care to justify why you think free listening is as important as speech?

I can do that @PDV!

It starts from the premise of physical and mental autonomy as values. People have a right to say whatever they like, but they also have a right to think whatever they like. That includes choosing to think about or not think about whatever you have to say to them. They are not obligated to spend one jot of linguistic, visual, or auditory processing on your messages.

With computer-augmented communication, people now have the ability to choose to not even perceive things that they don't want to think about, by instructing their computer shells to filter them out. This is probably most broadly applied in the form of ad blocking and spam filtration, but it also comes up in online discussion systems like SSB, where people can hide other users and all their posts from their view of the world. As the computers in this case are operating as extensions of the mind, the protection for mental autonomy applies; people are allowed to filter you out on their end and there's nothing you should be able to do about it.

Accepting the need for the protection of physical and mental autonomy forces you to accept both free speech and free listening as protected. Because of this, they are both equally important; compromising either forces you to compromise on your protection of physical and mental autonomy.

It's also noteworthy that choosing not to listen to or ignoring someone doesn't amount to "silencing" them in any meaningful sense. Everyone else can still listen to them. Even choosing not to replicate their feed on your machine isn't silencing them, if you're an ordinary human and not running a hosting service that they rely on to reach an appreciable number of people. You don't start to get into "silencing" territory as a non-service-provider unless you refuse to listen to or relay something and you start encouraging others to do the same without making their own judgments. And even then, that's free-speech-against-free-speech, as far as conflicts of rights go, and whether it's justified or not will depend heavily on the circumstances. (See for example AdBlock filter lists.)

A society in which loads of people flat-out refuse to listen to each other is probably a bad place. But so is a society where people won't stop spouting negative and antisocial opinions, and both are protected by protections for autonomy. You might have to compromise free listening when it comes into conflict with other things you value, like "having a functional community", or with other aspects of autonomy, like "keeping people alive", but in those cases you have just as good a case for compromising free speech.

@PDV

I'm not a Republican at all, so that's not much better.

No party exists that I'm happy voting for, but the Republicans are a disastrous garbage fire and all the Libertarian candidates are extremists, so I vote for the Democrat 90% of the time and pick whichever one is the most moderate and economics-literate if there's a choice.

@PDV

@interfect, the difference there that makes them unequal is that 'freedom from listening' has negative externalities and 'freedom of speech' has positive externalities.

Society has an interest in freedom of speech because it progresses the world toward truth and understanding. Freedom from listening causes isolation and siloing, which on a societal level leads to increased crime and decreased well-being.
(Almost) No single act of refusing to listen is a harm, but when you are designing systems and protocols (or social groups, which have implicit systems and protocols), you are deciding how large masses of people will perceive choices and therefore changing the incentive gradient for many, many decisions at once. Therefore, it behooves you to 'act only according to that precept where you can at the same time will that it become universal law'*, because to a very real extent you are willing that it become universal law.

* I'm probably misquoting my Kant, here, I wasn't actually a Phil major

@Mikael Brockman's laptop

@PDV

Society has an interest in freedom of speech because it progresses the world toward truth and understanding. Freedom from listening causes isolation and siloing, which on a societal level leads to increased crime and decreased well-being.

It's easy to imagine situations where the freedom to ignore or eject someone from a discussion is crucial for progressing toward truth and understanding. I've seen well-meaning groups fall apart rather traumatically because of their unwillingness to kick someone out who was constantly derailing their discussions.

You've mentioned elsewhere (correct me if I'm wrong) that you think yelling fire in a crowded theater should probably also be protected as free speech—that seems pretty extreme. What about, let's say, someone in the annual meeting of your professional society yelling feverishly about how Ayn Rand is the only true philosopher? You see what I mean?

I agree that it's tricky business designing systems, protocols, and programs. It's a bit sad how hard it is to develop sufficiently user-friendly software, especially for mobile devices—I think more experimentation is crucial. And I hope SSB can be a cradle of experimentation; there's been talk about making it easier to make new clients.

It seems unlikely that any clear and defined policy regarding blocking would straightforwardly "progress the world toward truth and understanding." If everyone is eager to block everyone who seems annoying then you will silence some vital Socratic gadflies and groupthink will prevail. If nobody is willing to block anyone then you will see huge amounts of time and energy wasted on repetitive tedious squabbles and productive groups will fall apart.

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@greg

I should be allowed to disengage from the conversation without being deemed a corrosive threat to free speech.

They can even deem you a corrosive threat to free speech if they want, because 🤷 you don't care about their opinion so what does it matter?


It's worth noting: I'm not seeing any of PDV's messages even though I haven't blocked them, presumably because I don't follow any pubs any more. Pubs have no taste; once you have a few followers, I heartily recommend not following any pubs!

@cryptix
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@bundy

@PDV

Scuttlebutt allows you to host content from people that you follow, and optionally allows you to host content from two or three (!) degrees of separation. That means that many of us default to hosting friends, friends of friends, and their friends. Sometimes that means that we host content from people we aren't interested in hosting, which is resolved by blocking.

I don't blame you for being upset about being blocked, but I'd like you to think about the alternative: if we only shared our bandwidth and storage with friends (hops: 1) then we wouldn't have blocks, but it would be harder to connect with others. The [generous] offer of free hosting for friends of friends isn't unconditional, and having that hosting revoked doesn't make you a victim or validate your grievances.

If you're bothered by seeing blocks, I'd recommend configuring Scuttlebutt like this:

{
  "friends": {
    "hops": "1"
  }
}
@Giarc
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@Fabián Heredia Montiel
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@interfect

@PDV

@interfect, the difference there that makes them unequal is that 'freedom from listening' has negative externalities and 'freedom of speech' has positive externalities.

Society has an interest in freedom of speech because it progresses the world toward truth and understanding. Freedom from listening causes isolation and siloing, which on a societal level leads to increased crime and decreased well-being.

I'm not necessarily convinced on this point. The freedom to tune out obvious junk information keeps the world from moving form a state of truth and understanding to a state of nobody knowing which of the ten conspiracy theories they've heard this week, if any, might be true. (Keep in mind people's dismal ability to understand low probabilities or dismiss catchy ideas.) Meanwhile, freedom of speech can, taken to extremes, lead to an extremely loud society, poor signal to noise in important communication channels, and decreased well-being.

I don't think we can come to a consensus that one is better than another from the externalities they produce just by doing pure philosophy, without actually doing experiments. My society certainly has problems with isolation and siloing, and decreased well-being, but that could be as much because everyone has access to a constant stream of each other's political views, and therefore reasons to hate each other, as it could be because people choose to tune out those they don't agree with.

See also: this social network modeling result in which increased connectivity can lead to less spreading of information.

@cryptix
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@bundy

@PDV

Blocking should be possible but hard, used almost never

Could you meet the burden of proof here? It sounds like you believe that others have an obligation to host your content, and I'm confused at why or how you believe this.

Setting the number of default hops to n has the same effect as blocking people above n degrees of separation. Do you also take offense to people setting the number of hops that they're interested in hosting? I don't think that you can maintain any sort of consistency here without falling into "I have the right to be hosted by everyone".

@Clinton

On an individual to individual level I think the freedom to listen is extremely important.

I should have ultimate control over what information come into my home and to my attention. I have the right to leave the auditorium when a particular speaker takes the stage, or to change the television channel when your advert comes on.

No body can force me to listen to them speak, watch their TV advert, or look at their roadside billboard, read their pamphlet that they hand out on the street corner, read their unsolicited spam email, pay attention to their internet pop-up advert.

No body can make me follow them on Twitter or friend them on Facebook so that their speech appears on my feeds. They have the freedom of speech, but I have the right not to listen to their speech.

This makes some people upset, because they believe that their speech is super important and super true, and if I would only listen to them they would convince me of that fact. Personally I'll almost always listen, but I can them disengage if I'm not convinced. If that person keeps coming back to try convince me, I'll have to take action to stop them from pestering me.


Things are a bit more nuanced on an institutional level, where a powerful person or a powerful company starts making the decision on what people should listen to.

If I understand some of the posts above correctly, I think this is where the main concern is.

When a powerful company (Twitter/Facebook) or a powerful community leader takes a decision to not listen to a person (by either not publishing their speech or by instructing the community not to attend an event), then the freedom to listen isn't exercised on an individual level anymore.

If powerful company/person blocks me because I like purple pants and talk about them too often, then they are taking the choice away from the members of the community on whether they want to listen to my purple pants speech. Maybe they do, and then I have one more purple pants fan. Maybe they don't, and block me. But it should be their choice.

Perhaps it mainly comes down to asymmetry of power? If a powerful company/person instructs people not to listen to one side of an argument (or makes the decision on behalf of people though technical means such as shadow banning), then the decision to not listen isn't made by the individual anymore, but is dictated by power.

This does seem to start bordering on limiting the freedom to speak.

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@Dominic

they have an obligation to give fair treatment to everyone using the service

using what service? "The service" here is just the pubs that people freely choose to run, and the peers that read and pass on messages. It's actually many services. The whole design of ssb was intended that peers are free to make arbitrary choices on what content they choose to distribute. If someone or some group of people decide they don't want something, that something isn't available from them. But someone else can still provide it. To censor something on ssb, you'd need to convince everyone not to share it. As long as you have some friends, ssb works for you.

If you want to create a culture of extremist non-blockers, good luck to you. But it's not technically necessary. I'll just say that my design intention was always to support any kind of arbitrary blocking as people decided they needed or wanted that for whatever personal reasons.

@Alanna

This thread has been great for identifying a few more people to block. Thanks @KawaiiPunk - my SSB experience has been incrementally improved.

boybye.gif

@Dominic

No I think you are wrong. It one of the best ideas, and the most compelling things we have over corporate owned social networks: we put the control into your hands. This policy lets communities govern themselves.

In any case, the social network has a high degree of connectivity. I have friends that I wouldn't invite to the same party as other friends. It's just how humans are. Although I'd like it if everyone could get along, that doesn't really happen. But those people still have indirect contact, in a way, through me. In a randomish network, you don't need very many connections per peer, to have a very high probability that the total network is fully connected (meaning: there is a path from any peer to any other peer)

Anyway, just continually going on about your boring opinions is one type of block worthy action. There are many more behaviors - like just straight up spam - etc. That requires blocking at a simple technical level, but there isn't any objective way for the protocol to distinguish between those cases, so we put that in the hands of the human user who can.

And also, you won't like this but we are gonna build even better moderation tools - such as subscribable block lists. On twitter, people have created browser extensions etc, to handle blocking en-mass - features that have been requested from twitter, but they have ignored, even though their most distinctive features (retweets and hashtags) where created by users. This is actually what people want!

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@dan hassan android

By pdv's logic does that mean I'm an isp now? Gonna have to think of a sick name for it!

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@mix

This thread has been a delight to read. I couldn't see any of the grumpy party's messages because my friends blocked them, but instead essentially read a nice essay on free listening and speech. <3

@dan hassan android

#freelistening now available on #manyVerse too %yuZzeeH...

@Gordon
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