New Post: Is Ethical Advertising Possible?

Independent of ethical online ads, I think the best advertising is just a byproduct: being known.

Being known, being visible & the network effect
The omnipresent apple logo does that (but I applaud Purism for being more modest).
To my knowledge, the main point of print and TV ads is often not to make somebody go shopping immediately. It’s to make you think “I know that’s a good brand” when you’re scanning the shelves the next time you need something. I spent some time in the US 15 years ago, and I still remember where to get my car insured, easy enough for a caveman.
Google used to be so hyped, they could just add a link to their newest beta labs product, and everybody, including press, would just flock to it.
And then of course, all products that snowball (social networks, chats) build an audience.

Purism’s problem
I think one major problem for Purism is that there is no entry-level product that basically everybody wants or needs (Amazon started with books, not with Alexa).
The hardware prices are not easy to swallow even for those who already are convinced of the value.
Librem One has acceptable prices, but a different weakness: I have no urge to use VPN, and Mail with 1GB quota and all unencrypted mails deleted after 30 days also has no appeal to me. I like Chat and Social, and voluntarily pay for them. But even these don’t have any real network effect, even though chat is close and has potential (but the barrier is still high).

Squaring the circle
What you want is a product that makes people visit your website from time to time, has a network effect and is not addictive / unethical. Free/cheap would be nice.
One of the best such products might be a Doodle alternative, like
It has a very low entry barrier, and everybody who needs to find a date for some group (family, friends, students, colleagues) is a potential user, who brings in others to that page.
Make it very clear that this is a privacy friendly offer.
Some will come back to create their own poll.
Some will notice the pointers to related Librem One services, hardware offerings and blog posts on privacy.
There could be pro-features for paying LO customers, but the main point is: the free offering should be well invested marketing money in my humble opinion.

(There certainly are other similar helpful products that could draw in an audience. Framasoft has some more.)

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Please post – at least a link.

This convention ended Saturday and there was no website (and consequently, no link).

It is a word of mouth convention. But since you asked here is the advert.

By the way, advert images were found using Duck Duck Go with the Licenses filter: “Free to Modify, Share, and Use Commercially”.


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I always liked Vargas’ work. Did you put the tank in her hand? Well done!

My guess it was released because the artist wanted others to use the open hand in derivative works. And it “may” be a copycat done in Vargas’ style, not necessarily Vargas.

An early version of my ad had this Charles Laughton pic underneath the other pic. (Also with the same license.) My wife nixed it as too risque.


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This is the email I sent to Purism Marketing ( in response to both this thread and the Matomo Campaign Tracking since June 23rd, 2022:


If you look at an example of our UTM links:
You’ll notice it is not individualized and acts as a referral field. I encourage you to read the section on Anonymous Referrals on this forum’s linked post. In other words, our UTM links do not relate to a specific user, so they don’t affect users’ privacy.


And how connect users to your service? Correct, via IPs. That you don’t match those data together doesn’t mean you can’t. In a world where nearly everyone is tracking us it makes a really bad feeling seeing some kind of tracking (even anonymous data) on a privacy orientated company.

Or in other words: it’s like having a phone without HKS - you know it shouldn’t harm, but you can’t know it and always have the feeling that it may watches you.

At the end 2/3 of people who get from forums to your article won’t be tracked anyway, because they use clean links (or clean themselves). So it does not even help you much to see how many people came from forums (you would not even see me on “link clicked counter on forum itself”). At the end you just damage your reputation without winning anything.

You can stay with your campaign tracking etc, but the drama will repeat on every link over and over again.


Heh. I have been forced to use a gmail account for first contact with any vendor and once I have vetted them in some preliminary way I email them from my real email address.

My gmail account is a nuclear wasteland of spam from companies I would normally want to talk to and learn about their offerings but are now just ignored.

I agree with everything you posted, however there is an unspoken topic on our side of the conversation, and it is this:

  • Customers are callous, cold, miserable, demanding, ungrateful gits that only respond / by through underhanded, devious and manipulative tactics. They want the world and to pay nothing for it.

Anyone that has been in business and had to sell anything knows what I am talking about. If you are lucky enough to shake out of the detritus of leeches out there a set of good quality clients, you are lucky. It doesn’t mean that the rest of the potential clients aren’t good people, but it really is a cold hard truth about human nature.

Basically, to sell anything, you need to engineer an understanding of your demographic and then figure out how they work at a base level and target your sales efforts towards that. There is a reason boiler room telephone sales works.

I am not sure there is a middle ground here to be had. I think the best thing that can be hoped for is, if you can afford it act ethical, otherwise decide if you want to survive or not.

A few observations though:

  • users shouldn’t have to notice!
  • subtle changes to the surveillance part of the URL might go unnoticed
  • even within the exact names and values in the example given (?n1=v1&n2=v2&n3=v3&n4=v4), by reordering the names it would be possible to encode 4-point-something bits of information. :wink:

I totally accept that the person making a post can choose whether to include the surveillance part of the URL and that you will continue to do so (and that other users will continue to strip it out - which really should be configurable standard browser behaviour).


I am getting confused…
“privacy friendly tracking”? “anonymous referrals”?
So, let’s maybe get down to basics: what is this matomo campaign for? What is its purpose and what do you expect from it? Did you weight up the possible gains for the company versus the reputational damage (at least on this forum)?
Please explain. I would like to understand. Maybe it is acceptable, after all - but to what purpose?

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Yes that has been noticed of customers. Even down the garage sale level. Or selling used games and miniatures at conventions. It is like they want them for free. Or asking volunteers to help at my game convention, “You mean you want me to work? Please anything but … work!”

It also works at the high end corporate level. Some famous companies are well noted for their payables being late. You’d think you could sell to them and they’d pay on time, hah!

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It should be noted that the word for “advertising” in most latin language based countries is “propaganda”. English has put a negative spin on the latter word.


Agreed on all accounts.

I find “propaganda” a bit strong in this case.
French: publicité Italian: pubblicità Spanish: publicidad Romanian: publicitate…
But of course, we also do know about Edward Bernays’s famous book Propaganda (1928), which work led to Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” and later Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” - all of which techniques have been further refined to fit our current “Click Society” paradigm.

Given the diversity of local dialects it may differ in usage. My wife is Chilean/Bolivian and has always called it “propaganda”. But then she says a Mexican may call them “commerciales”. (I think Mexicans got that from us Americans.) She has also noticed on TV she has heard it called “propaganda” but in a newspaper they would use “publicidad”.

I can’t speak for the philosofical arguments from literature. I’m a georgrapher.

As there is no Option offered to be tracked or not, this kind of tracking is unethical.

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All advertising that I am exposed to is unethical. My choice is always to not opt-in and since I never opt-in by preference, I should never have to opt-out of receiving advertising or of being tracked. There needs to be a one time fully inclusive decision that I can make in life and to be able to post publicly that decision, to let the world know that I never want be exposed to anyone else’s attempts to get me to purchase anything. The preference to opt-in or else not have access to a smart phone should never be forced on to you and should be honored by everyone. By default “no” means “no”. Continuous harassment is or should be illegal. The goal when anyone harasses you in this manner should be to act as though they do not exist while trying to get the law to stop them from any harassment against you. The worst thing you can do is to actually purchase anything from them. Never reward them for harassing you.

Let sellers post their products in only appropriate places. These would be places where I can go looking anonymously for products when I might want to buy them, such as on Amazon or on a seller’s website. I should not be tracked while there. No one should come after me after I visit their store. To follow you out of a store in to other parts of your life is called “stalking”. That institutuinalized behavior needs to end.

Anything less than all of these sellers honoring these preferences of mine is harassment by them against me. I set a boundry that says “no advertising” and they still try to advertise to me anyway. That’s a big violation of my personal boundries.

Advertising should be put in to the same category as pornography. There are strict filters that are honored. It’s easy to keep it out of your life if you turn that filter on. You have to go looking for it if you want it. It doesn’t persist in your web-browser if you don’t want it there. People can go to jail or be driven out of business if they try to force it on to you. Yet it is easy to access it if you want to access it. This is how advertising should be. Let advertisers go get real jobs, instead of stalking me, trying to get me to spend money with them after I have already been clear with them that I see their attempts to sell to me as harassment and tell them to stop doing it.

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Then it follows, that if you “buy” a newspaper, you are exposed to advertisinng by its very nature. But then you must admit, you “paid” for the exposure then?

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