Surveillance Capitalism in the Fediverse

I am considering signing up for either Librem 1, or to a Mastadon account, or maybe even setting up my own Mastadon instance. The driving motive of course, is to avoid surveillance capitalism while enjoying some online socialization. But I have a question.

Obviously, companies like Twitter and facebook will feel threatened by services like Mastadon, and will want to diminish its value and to advertise to Mastadon users, regardless of our efforts to opt-out of their services.

What stops companies like Google and Twitter from signing-up for a Mastadon account and scraping and cataloging and using all information that exists in the entire Fediverse? Fuzzy logic and complex algorithms are already honed at Google and Twitter and the like, to match profile information from different sources to the same individual. And if I join any social media platform (which I have not done yet), I want to use my real first and last name with my friends and family.

I can see the possibility that I get my Librem 5 and sign up for Librem 1, ditch my Samsung phone and my Google account. Then I join a Mastadon group on say, amateur radio and another group on pet adoptions. Sure enough, Google comes along and scrapes the entire Fediverse. They match my name to my Amateur radio call sign (and thus, my address) and to my interest in animal adoptions. The next thing you know, my address on file at the FCC starts receiving junk mail about pet supplies. And it all starts with my intended safe place on a Mastadon server. My question is this: Is there any place out there that is safe from surveillance capitalism? This example may sound outlandish to some. I think it’s inevitable if not here now. You can run but you can’t hide unless you want to hide behind fake names and not disclose your interests to your friends.


They can do it even with this forum :slight_smile: Platform is irrelevant, level of access is what matters. Public information is retrievable and indexable. What you need is rather closed community then.

But then again there’s a difference between indexing external content (where you do not see actual user) and being content provider (having all the strings attached). So if I want to be anonymous in fediverse there’s no way twitter can map me unless I intentionally disclose myself. Fuzzy algorithms have their limits and without real backing data the result is just a finger in the air.

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I agree with @ruff and I’ll add that I think your biggest threat is someone unwittingly leaking your mastadon instance, perhaps by putting a link on a Facebook post.

Caveats: I don’t use mastadon so I’m not sure how invitations to instances are shared, nor do I know how active big data is in securing more data. It may well be that my example doesn’t apply. I do know you can host your own instance, perhaps that’s enough to keep you from being low-hanging fruit?

It looks like anonymity is the only protection. It’s sad that everyone has to hide to stay safe from predator information hunters. Stopping others from using your personal information for their own purposes should be as easy as un-friending someone on facebook. It’s like a door to door salesman hammering on your door hard for an hour at a time and coming back repeatedly, because you won’t answer. There needs to be some boundries that you can set that have to be respected.

solution :slight_smile: apply the metaphorical Occam’s Razor to everything evil in this world and see the internet become free … eventually

Probably yes. Anonymity for public communication (public groups relating to common interests like amateur radio or pet adoptions) and a different (real) identity for private communication with friends and family.

In that scenario you may want multiple bogus identities, one for each public group - so you aren’t Big Data’d based on your unique set of interests.

Security is CIA.

Confidentiality Integrity Accessibility

While Surveillance capitalism has none of them for sure mastodon gives everyone as host the possibility to control their instance and by that Integrity and Accessibility. Confidentiality is not the objective of a platform aiming at information that is public for everyone.

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My first inclination was to go on the offensive and PyHole all Google/Facebook/Twitter/ addresses on your Mastodon instance. Then, I remembered that it would futile in the Fediverse, by it’s very nature… damned reflexes!

I guess anonymity is the way to go. I’m comfortable with it, and think it’s best for all online social activity. Of course, it takes all kinds.

anonymity is no solution. Because Surveillance Capitalism have much more data about you. Its about Data in your Smartphone Apps and sensors that some Operating System transfer.

To be safe: Just have a minimal usage of digital data stuff outside. Try to create an Offlinebubble for your friends. An by offline i do not mean offline like offline. A ssh connection from your smartphone to your computer over the internet is offline like too because you have a strong encryption like in your LAN and do not share this information with the public.

Try not to use your Smartphone Uplink, just use your Smartphone Uplink as Proxy to home and from there to the world. The same for some apps. In first place try to use your own servers as a cloud to access from the road. This help to minimize your online foot print.

That way you could have some kind of protection. Its not perfect but it is a good start. Try to tell your friends and Family, what can be shared, what pictures can you post and what not.

Sad thing: Its bad to download the Pictures on some Smartphone where apps like Whatsapp can access them. Not on your phone, but on the Child’s one or some other family member.

So i think the best protection is to know, how the surveillance works and how it likely can use your data against you. Its like the Hacker stuff, if you think about to break in your home, you changed your view and sharp your mind. Lets try a mind game, like what can you do with your data.

Most gain of SC is to outsource some work to the user and earn information from that work. Like users that optimize a search engine and tag or rate information by there daily usage.

About the fediverse. Thats Public, not only because of the fediverse software, because most users use a Windows, Iphone or Android to access it. So establish a second secure layer, from secure Hardware. Keep private what you can. Fediverse is a good step, but its mostly a better displacement for public software, like have your own non public blog instead of facebook.

I think about it like a family dairy. Some stuff that we have in our living room shelf’s (like our secure own cloud) and some that we nailed on bulletin board at school, work or different faith community center (like twitter, mastodoon, fediverse…).