New Post: Is Ethical Advertising Possible?

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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For anyone who has a clear idea of whether or not they want Matomo Campaign Tracking to be used on blog posts shared on the Purism community forums, I invite you to participate in this poll.

I will formally address @david.hamner about it after I close the poll in a week.

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At least you have a choice to buy it or not.
Also, a newspaper does not have tracking.

We may live in an imperfect world. But to knowingly deceive others or to bully others for our own benefit is very unethical. We could say that everyone does it and so I can do it too. But believe me, that justification won’t help you in the long run. Intelligent people watch how you interact with your world. Those people will not trust you if they see that you have no integrity. They will maintain their integrity themselves, because that’s who they are. Your ability to maintain healthy relations with everyone in your world will be handicapped by their lack of trust in you if they detect that you don’t respect them.

This is one reason why I do my best to avoid unwanted advertising and tracking. Even if I want what is being offered, if an advertiser violates my clear boundries, I’ll find an equivalent product elsewhere and will pay more for it if necessary, to avoid paying anything to that original boundry violator. In a cold call, I owe them nothing and may or may not choose to respond well. With thousands of tracking cookies coming at us daily, my choice in that situation is to not respond in a favorable way to them.

In my daily job, I often make large purchases for my employer. I found that certain sellers will spam me very badly with other offers right after I make a purchase from them. The more I buy, the more relentless the spam becomes. If I don’t buy anything from them, then the spam from them eventually stops as the firewall is somehow smart enough to tell the difference between spam and legitimate business emails if you’re not doung business with someone. After trying unsuccessfully to get one specific supplier to stop the spam, I told them who I was with, how much money I had just spent with them, and I demanded to speak with one of their Vice Presidents. My employer was a very large company. When I got that VP on the phone, I told him that his employees were destroying any working relationship that our two companies might develop and that the harassment every time I make a purchase from his company, needs to stop. I told him that when I need something, I buy it. When I don’t need something in-specific, I don’t buy anything. He blambed the IT department and apologized. A few weeks later, that harassment continued. So I had my company’s IT department block that company’s entire domain and I quit doing business with them myself. When their salesman called me a few months later, I told him that I can’t use them anymore because none of their invoices to me can get to me through our firewall, and I told him why they were blocked and that I was the one who had them blocked. All it took was one overly ambitious IT person and one complacent VP to stop all sales from their company to us. My company was much bigger than they were and we probably would have spent millions of dollars with them over future years if they wouldn’t have angered me with petty offers to buy small-ticket everyday commodities from them that I didn’t need.


I liked it better when (back in the day) the IT vendor would only send a card and a batch of cookies or candy at Christmas. Even a quarterly (snail mail) newsletter was welcome.

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Hello @david.hamner,

I understand and agree that Purism’s implementation of Matomo Campaign Tracking preserves individuals’ privacy. However, it is evidently clear that readers want the freedom to contribute to such analytics or not while accessing the blog posts, based on this poll and various posts by community members, including myself. Here is just one of many examples:

Such a choice is not offered by Purism; since June 23rd, 2022, readers must accept blog post links with Matomo Campaign Tracking’s URL parameters, which fails to respect the users’ right to freedom and remains in direct contradiction with the Specific Social Purpose. In place of this violation, community members such as myself have taken on the responsibility of respecting readers’ right to freedom by additionally providing “clean” links to the blog posts.

The correct resolution is for Purism to provide two links to the same blog post: one with Matomo Campaign Tracking; and one without. This way, readers interested in providing analytics are free to do so, while those who prefer not to contribute analytics are still able to access the blog post without issue. This would truly respect users’ rights to freedom and fully align with the Specific Social Purpose written in Purism’s Articles of Incorporation.


:person_shrugging: the number of times a link is clicked on the forum is tracked, soveither way Purism can see the number of times blog post links on the forum are clicked. All that changes is where the information is visible.


You can click on links in forums without triggering the counter (same es copying the link and removing the tracker).


Putting that in a different way … Purism should understand the type of customers who will be attracted to their products.

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I composed a short email to notify Purism Marketing:

Dear @FranklyFlawless can you send it another Email to Purism to say that support LibreJS to this Cheaper Forum please. Why? because Pure OS is under Free Software Why? why not fancy Libre Ethical things?


Feel free to email Purism Feedback ( regarding LibreJS.


As a hardware manufacturer who invests in R&D as much as in hardware manufacturing, our products end up being more expensive than the competition. This makes selling products and running the business slightly more complicated. This is were advertising and marketing become essential.

Doing marketing also has a cost and knowing which marketing campaign is efficient, which message has reached which audience in which platform is essential in order to optimize the marketing effort. That may sound stupid or even useless but not doing so is actually like asking a developer to write some code without getting any feedback on what is actually going on. That is just not doable.

We opted for collecting traffic data in the most ethical way as possible. This goes through hosting and processing our own database in our own server, and only collecting anonymous traffic.

In term of anonymity, I am not sure that there are many HTTP servers out there, that don’t collect traffic data along with IP addresses. Not sure a sys admin would want to work without traffic logs either. One can argue that traffic data can always be processed and that’s where VPNs are being useful. Just like sys admins, our marketing team don’t need personal data. This is not our business. We just need to know about the performance of an ad.

As the blog post from Kyle shows, we are transparent about it and always open to discussing a better way to achieve that.


I appreciate your response regarding this blog post, but if you were intending to reply to my formal response about Matomo Campaign Tracking, then you will need to explicitly address the points I have mentioned within it. It is not clear whether or not you are responding in place of Purism Marketing, or simply as yourself.

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:person_shrugging:To me it reads as a generic marketing reply to the topic in general not a targetted reply.

That said I don’t see ambiguity in their stance that they do not share the dissenting views raised and view their actions as an acceptable level of action to gather data for checking marketing effecacy.


Some new information from leaked Google tech documents that may shed some light on how that particular apparatus works. I recommend these long blog posts here and/or here (and for the technologically inclined, the source). Or a more concise post here if you just want the general gist of it.

Nothing really scandalous, other than pointing out falsehoods in some older statements (as seems to just confirm what most expected).


I think a big problem with their logic which I don’t see discussed very much is the way they determine if someone “wanted” something. With metrics-driven marketing (or metrics-driven anything really, but the current topic is marketing) there is an assumption that actions are only taken because that action is wanted. There are plenty of alcoholics who don’t want to pick up another bottle, but they do anyway. The metrics-driven person would see the action of picking up the bottle and say “that person wanted to pick up that bottle”. Not everything is chemically addictive like alcohol, but the principle remains the same: simply selecting material that causes a certain response within a significant percentage of the population is not the same thing as selecting material that people want to see or that has a positive impact on our lives.

This is why I appreciated this section:

This is an example of looking at a metric, then also thinking about why that metric exists and making a change that is helpful to the intended purpose of the people driving that metric. It’s not “this ad made sales go up”, it’s “this ad caused people to go to this page, here is a plausible explanation for the need driving that action, so let’s find a way to better fill that need”. In this case the result still ends up being “make it easier to take that action”, but it has some degree of nuanced thought behind it.