New changes to Twitter make it even worse for free software users
There are many complicated debates happening right now around Twitter and its role in public discourse. These discussions are important, but we also shouldn't forget a very basic and clear principle -- whatever its policies are about who can and can't post or how, it's of fundamental importance that Twitter should not require users to run nonfree software in order to use the site.
Twitter. It's a closed-source heavily censored commercial social network.
But why use Twitter in the first place, if we know that it has these issues? As any charity can attest, engaging users on social media is one of the chief ways of getting their message across. The same is true for software freedom. We need to be talking about free software in places where everyone is not already a committed free software supporter -- we won't be successful if we are only in our own echo chamber, or preaching to the choir. It's important for us as activists to be reaching the people on these platforms, even if we have some reservations about using them ourselves. Twitter has its share of issues, but until we're able to drive enough users to the software freedom movement to where we can rely solely on word of mouth, we need to include them in our messaging strategy. We are, however, careful to make sure that you don't have to follow the FSF on Twitter in order to receive news or updates. Everything we publish is also posted on platforms based on free software principles, including Mastodon and GNU social.
"User-hostile" problems like these are why the FSF supports decentralized network services wherever we can. We have done so as early as 2008, when we were the host of a summit on network services that culminated in the publication of the Franklin Street Statement. The statement's focus on promotion of decentralized services and freedom from bulk corporate and government surveillance remain part of our campaigns strategy. Twitter may have the most users of any microblogging network of its type, but in the long run, decentralized platforms like Mastodon or PeerTube will win out. Even Jack Dorsey of Twitter has acknowledged the appeal of these networks, which are based on ActivityPub, in a conversation that our executive director John Sullivan had with him on Twitter. We remain hopeful that Twitter will support decentralization, and at the same time prioritize software freedom.