With proprietary social and search software both driving and tracking us, the smallest choices to the largest movements are subject to social engineering by trade secret code. Only free-as-in-freedom software can preserve the liberty of association, and we ignore this fact at the peril of our free society.
The big social and search companies cloak themselves in democratic ideals, but are nonfree as a matter of course. Generating all the lists and notices we attend to, analyzing all the signals we share, is secret code we can’t see or understand. We can’t know how or why we’re shown a given person, story, image, or ad, in a particular sequence. That knowledge is reserved for those whose livelihood depends on monetization of the results.
We change systems by making subsystems obsolete. We can turn the tide of network effects in favor of paradigmatic free software by making better choices, like running the free Brave browser to anonymously support content while subverting the ad/tracking regime. I am looking into GNU social options and Mastodon but haven’t used them yet and would welcome any thoughts on these and other microblogging options.