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Routing around censorship

The vulnerability of people expressing their views via other people’s platforms was pointed out by Glenn Reynolds back in the fairly early days of blogging when almost every blogger was hosted on a blogger.com site, with a .blogspot.com at the end (can’t find Glenn’s remark to that effect online but first half of the 2000’s I think). And .blogspot.com sites steadily became slow and buggy as hell. This technical risk largely ended when people moved away from the increasingly unreliable and clunky hosting and set up MoveableType or later WordPress sites hosted all over the place.

But by 2010, blogs were no longer at the centre of what was now being called ‘social media’, with Facebook and Twitter being where the mass eyeballs were, blogs becoming more of a niche thing. This brings us back to the risks Glenn warned of, but dialled up to 11 this time, with less technical and more political concerns.

I am seeing an interesting development in response to Big Tech shutting down voices dissenting from The Narrative, with people taking their discussions away from curated platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (who still get to act legally as if they are not curated platforms)… and onto Telegram groups, like for example the delightfully named Slightly Offensive (with posts like this) or global anti-lockdown stickerists White Rose.

These groups are somewhat clunky and it is harder to spread interesting post via links (they are more phone/desktop app oriented rather than web-friendly), but this does show the social media landscape is still changing.

21 comments to Routing around censorship

  • Does one have to download some idiotic app beyond a regular browser in order to view the Telegram groups? I can’t see them in the browser

  • Beedle

    I deleted WhatsApp from my computers & phone to go completely facebook-free, and adopted Telegram as my messaging app of choice, so I’m happy to see I’m getting more than I bargained for (in a good way for once). I’ve plonked Telegram app on phone, laptop & desktop for a few months now, and its pretty good (I found Signal too unreliable compared to Telegram, even if Snowden prefers the former).

  • bobby b

    Call me Luddite. I still prefer the stand-alone blog such as Samizdata. But, at the same time, I understand that “stand-alone” is a misnomer. No internet site is an island. You still need other people’s services to make this cool screen appear on my computer.

    In that spirit, what pressures does Samizdata face from others? What makes y’all worry at times? What makes y’all feel secure and safe? I keep hearing disparagement of WordPress, but I’ve not seen any cancellation on their command. And, as you don’t get the “protection” of Section 230, don’t some of us make you nervous?

  • bobby b

    “I can’t see them in the browser”

    Nor can I. Is this something that I want to load up?

  • vicki james

    yes, you really need the telegram app on your ‘puter and phone. its pretty good and the days where web browsers ruled everything are coming to an end. not sure how i feel about that but it’s clearly the way the future is headed. it does make privacy easier provided you choose your apps carefully (or harder if you don’t).

  • Select ‘preview channel’ to get a fair idea what is what with a web-browser.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    Is there (or should there be) a Samizdata channel on Telegram?

  • For those who like the blogospeheric alternatives I have a scheme where you host your blog locally in your own home on a Raspberry Pi 4 and have it proxied by cloudflare. I call it Miconetia and it’s the link in my name above. In addition to a blog it is also easy to host a chat server (rocket chat) on the same infrastructure. You may think that this doesn’t sound scalable but it is. One of my sites has been “instalanched” a few times and it has stood the load of several thousand visits an hour and gigabytes of images downloaded without any issue

  • Hopefully we don’t need to go that route but who knows, Rudolph.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    @Perry, might be worth setting it up. If for no other reason, as contingency in case of hostile forces in play.

  • Michael Taylor

    I want to put in a good word for the Blockstack environment – a crypto-built environment which includes excellent blogging software such as Sigle. Yes, your readers will need a Blockstack login to get to the site, but a) these are free and b) once you’ve got a blockstack id, your data is absolutely your own.

  • @Perry, might be worth setting it up. If for no other reason, as contingency in case of hostile forces in play.

    I did set one up but for now it is locked & private (or it would fill up with spam). If people actually want that active at some point, I can just make it public (or semi-public, if I send out invite links).

  • Jon Eds

    2 things:

    1. If you do set up a Telegram account (I did in order to follow some accounts) on your phone, the first thing you should do is head to settings to change the privacy options. I was somewhat alarmed by what gets shown (phone number etc.,) by default.

    2. These private communication options are all very well, but if you get banned from the public sphere it is much harder for our message to reach a new audience. That’s primarily what they want of course.

    It would be remiss not to give Vox Day a shout out at this point, boomer hatred notwithstanding, as he is one of the ‘doers’ rather than ‘moaners’ in this area.

  • Paul Marks

    When they censored “Tommy Robinson” we were told it was because he supported murdering Muslims – then when Facebook and others were asked for evidence of such claims, they admitted there was none (they were just lying).

    When they censored Alex Jones we were told it was because he said things that were not true – but when leftists, such as Joseph Biden, say things that are not true they are NOT shut down.

    When they censored President Trump we were told it was because he advocated violence – they LIED.

    Now they are even censoring people such as Senator Rand Paul – one of the mildest mannered (and most honest and decent) people in public life – if they can censor Rand Paul, they can censor any dissent (and they will).

    The banks and other financial entities are being led by a code of conduct from the Federal Reserve (first drawn up under the Obama Administration – which also pushed censorship in the universities and even the schools – under the Frankfurt School of Marxism justification of “repressive tolerance”, that allowing Freedom of Speech “harms marginalised groups”) to slowly strangle all business enterprises that do not push “Social Justice” and crush dissent.

    Libertarians and Objectivists who still say “this is just private companies exercising their private property rights – if you do not like it, they create your own social media platforms and ..” must really have been living under a rock for years now.

    In the future of Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development (“Stakeholder Capitalism” – the Fascist Corporate State of Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum, and all the rest of the international establishment – including the World Health Organisation, the IMF and the UN), people who dissent from the Social Justice “diversity and inclusion” Frankfurt School stuff, will lose their jobs, and if they have their own business – that business will be destroyed. “You will own nothing and you will be happy” – or you had better PRETEND to be happy, OR ELSE.

    The education system fully supports all this – as does “Woke” Big Business (the sort of people who go to WEF gatherings and other international and national conferences).

    Glenn Reynolds was quite correct – people should not have relied on Corporate platforms (the law about these being “neutral public platforms not publishers” being utterly ignored in practice) – but even private blog owners are not going to be safe in the future.

    Think about it – over the last year and a half the international establishment have got away with suppressing (or smearing) Early Treatment with a combination of long existing medications that could have saved most people who died of Covid 19 – if they have got away with doing that (and they have) what can they NOT get away with?

    The answer is NOTHING – there is nothing they can not get away with. They are not going to be punished – it is their opponents (dissenters) who are going to be punished.

    Such things as the 2010 United Kingdom Equalities Act, and the new hate crimes law in Scotland (which even makes dissent expressed privately, in your own home, a “crime”) are the future.

    The future will be a boot coming down on a human face – for ever. A system like that of the Chinese Social Credit system – only far worse, far more extreme.

    At least till this accused Credit Money fake international economy comes crashing down – taking its political and cultural doctrines with it.

    But it will not go away easily – they want their international TAX CARTEL, and their international Credit Money (perhaps based on the “Special Drawing Rights” of the IMF), there is nothing, nothing at all, that they will not do in order to cling on to their dream of World Totalitarianism.

  • Paul Marks

    I am almost at the stage of “the worse the better” – almost (almost) hoping that every utterly insane government spending Bill and regulation presented in Washington D.C. is passed. In order to bring the whole system crashing down.

    But that would mean so many deaths (it would be “system collapse”) – that it is not morally right to hope that all these evil (and they are evil) measures are passed.

  • Paul Marks

    As for those who made their name writing articles and books OPPOSING totalitarianism – only now to support what is happening in the United States and most of the Western world, the rise of totalitarianism and the destruction of liberty.

    There are no words harsh enough with which to condemn their betrayal (the betrayal by Anne Applebaum and the rest of them), so I will stop here.

  • bobby b

    How timely. Blogger has just shut down Teddy Beale.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thanks to Perry and the commenters.
    I had been thinking about finding an alternative to WhatsApp, and starting my own blog. This thread will help.

    (WRT WhatsApp, i wish to note that i only use it on my phone, on which i do very little browsing, less than once/month. The oligarchs might know some of my dirty secrets, but they don’t know that, for instance, i regularly look at Samizdata.)

  • Jon Eds

    I saw that too Bobby. My comment didn’t age that well! We’ll see if ‘build your own platforms’ was all talk or not. Hopefully VP won’t go the way of Heartiste (a website I actually miss. Made me laugh).

  • bobby b

    Jon Eds:


    That’s his backup site. So, not all talk.

  • BTW, we use WordPress back end but we don’t use WordPress for actually hosting Samizdata