Labnotes

🤐 isProblematic

It's getting mighty difficult to remember which corners of high tech are engaged in anti-democracy, discrimination, intolerance, etc. So I made this quick reference for my own personal use.

I use some of these products and services. Some of these companies get my money (and many more collect my data). This is not a boycott list. This is the “isProblematic” list.


CloudFlare

CloudFlare corporate policy is "free speech absolutist" [1] and follow words with actions. They provide service to terrorists, foreign and domestic, and a product that blocks LGBTQ and sexual education resources.

Is Cloudflare a privacy champion or hate speech enabler? Depends who you ask

In October 2018, Cloudflare stood out by continuing to support the chat platform Gab … the company serves at least seven groups on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations…

Sarah Jamie Lewis

Cloudflare, swearing it is not a joke, have launched a censored DNS product that out the gate blocks LGBTQ support and aid sites as well as sex education resources. …

Clubhouse

Clubhouse was meant to be a safe space for Black women – and then it wasn’t

Facebook

Facebook is an operation to dismantle democracy around the world. They can do that because they're primary channel for communication (Facebook proper, WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram), which is also why they're hard to get rid of.

GitHub

That GitHub has an ICE contract that is “not financially material” (read: not doing it for the money) [2] should tell you everything. From Wikipedia:

GitHub has a $200,000 contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the use of their on-site product GitHub Enterprise Server. This contract was renewed in 2019, despite internal opposition from many GitHub employees. In an email sent to employees, later posted to the GitHub blog on October 9, 2019, CEO Nat Friedman stated "The revenue from the purchase is less than $200,000 and not financially material for our company."

GitHub fires Jewish employee who suggested 'Nazis are about' on the day of the US Capitol siege

… an employee at Microsoft-owned GitHub took to an internal Slack chat room to warn coworkers in the greater Washington DC area to "stay safe homies, Nazis are about," with a sad emoji.
A coworker was quick to criticize the employee for using divisive rhetoric, igniting a firestorm of internal debate, with many jumping in to take sides. That same day, HR reprimanded the employee, who is Jewish, for using the word "Nazi" in the workplace.

Spotify

Spotify CEO Defends Keeping Transphobic Joe Rogan Podcasts Online They knew exactly what they're buying:

At the time of writing, the Shrier episode is on Spotify. The company has made content moderation decisions to not port several other older JRE episodes to the platform, however. … Spotify is also not hosting episodes in which Rogan interviewed far-right personalities Gavin McInnes and Chuck Johnson.
The Spotify catalog does include episodes featuring Stefan Molyneux, who the Southern Poverty Law Center says amplifies "scientific racism," and who was banned from YouTube earlier this year for hate speech.
Joe Rogan has given people like this access to his gigantic audience, and Rogan rarely challenges his guests on their views, allowing them to launder their bad ideas on his show. Data & Society researcher Becca Lewis has argued that Rogan giving a platform to these people has led his audience down more extremist rabbit holes on YouTube. Lewis describes Rogan as a libertarian influencer "with mainstream appeal."

Substack

Substack’s view of content moderation TL;DR The 3 Dear Principles [3]:

We just disagree with those who would seek to tightly constrain the bounds of acceptable discourse. … Ultimately, we think the best content moderators are the people who control the communities on Substack: the writers themselves. … We do not allow porn on Substack, for example, or spam.

You can bet what happens next: hautepop:

Incidentally, Substack CEO Chris Best appeared today with Parler CEO John Matze on the Megyn Kelly Show, to discuss “tech censorship, President Trump's ban from Twitter, the rise of independent media, free speech, [and] what everyday Americans can do to fight back.”

YouTube

January 12, 2021: Sacha Baron Cohen

Trump's YouTube Channel shows +4,000 Trump videos, including "stop the steal" and calls "to fight!"

January 13, 2021: YouTube ban: Google blocks new uploads to Donald Trump's channel after Capitol riots It took a week for YouTube to make a decision, the new policy is only for a week, they'll block uploading new videos, but keep old videos playing.


[1] "Free speech absolutist" is designed to sound neutral, fair, and principled. In reality, “free speech absolutist" always limit speech they don't like, and allow their “free speech" spaces to fill up with people who hurt others.

[2] When a company shows you what they stand up for, believe them.

[3] I call these The 3 Dear Principles: 1) no speech is bad, 2) but if it is, the onus is on users to moderate, 3) except for sex, we'll step in to moderate sex.