How does one ensure free speech on social media?

It’s fair to say that I personally am one of the pioneers in the concept of an open social network. While there are many supposedly “open” platforms, most aren’t encouraging of giving users the right to freedom of speech. For instance, Mastodon, which is a decentralized, federated social network which is designed to be open, adds any instances with “hate speech”, “offensive content” or really just any instance that the maintainers of fediblock happen to dislike to a blocklist for all instances. If instances do not utlize fediblock, they are added to fediblock. Of course, fediblock is maintained by none other than an LGBT community, so we know that of course this blocklist couldn’t be biased in any way.

SJW silencing an entire Mastodon instance simply because they dislike them.

So, now that I’ve established what an open social network ISN’T, what is a truly open social network?

The concept of an open social network is very simple, in essence. It’s based upon the fact that everyone has a right to say what they desire to whomever is willing to listen.

What does that mean for offensive speech? Users can choose to ignore it by not interacting with the user, or even blocking them if they feel inclined. Nonetheless, hate speech is still free speech, people have a right to their thoughts even if they are bigoted.

This sort of hands-off approach to moderating a social network is actually rather effective and widely applicable. It allows communities within that social network to create their own guidelines. It also gives users control over the people and communities they interact with. After all, an open social network doesn’t mean everyone has to think in the same manner, such a policy would be stifling of creative free expression and freedom of thought.

It’s vitally important that we have a society which is diverse, full of different people of different backgrounds and lifestyles, with different preferences, moral standards, humor, politics, etc. Everyone shouldn’t be locked into an ideology or a mindset of what is considered universally acceptable.

I feel as if an open social network gives users the opportunity to voice unpopular opinions, beliefs, and concepts that may not be universally acceptable. This enables people to come together, to form rich communities with like-minded people, without having to worry if other users or the administration is supportive.

There are very slight limits to this freedom; of course it is my philosophy to keep it as open as possible. Still yet, harassing an individual is unacceptable, users who are being harassed may and frankly should choose to block the offending user. There’s no need for any sort of administrative intervention in such a situation. This similarly applies to the raiding of communities; one community should not be allowed to silence another. This does not mean that they cannot be critical or opposing of one another, it means that they need to ‘stay in their lane’ so to speak. When an opposing community invades another, that is an instance in which administrative action against said community should be taken.

There is of course illegal content, and the potential for orchestration of illegal activities to occur. In such cases, administration should take an action against the offending individual(s) or community(s), yet take no legal responsibility for such content or communications, and remain an outsider to any legal process regarding them.

This brings me to the importance of impartiality. I myself am a Republican, I have some rather resolute views and I strongly disagree with many people. Of course, in the administration of a truly open social network, I do and absolutely must put that aside, and ensure that everyone has the right to express themselves freely regardless of my opinion on their stance. All individuals responsible for administrating/moderating an open social network must be capable of putting their personal opinions aside when carrying out administrative actions. This is crucial as bias on the part of administration would undermine the entire concept of an open social network.

Another thing that ensures impartiality is the lack of any for-profit ventures within or related to the social network or organization controlling it. As we’ve seen in many prime examples such as Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and Instagram the interests of investors and advertisers are put before users and their communications. Money cannot be an influence for control of content, users, ideas, etc within an open social network.

These are the standards I’ve developed since the inception of CYGO Network in 2017, and I continue to apply them to the administration of our relatively new social network, Bleu, which is touted as a Reddit alternative. I hope to continue and build on this libre philosophy for our community and services provided here, as well as to be a guide for others who seek to establish an open and diverse online community.

Mojang and Its Relationship with Communist China

This is my first time writing for CYGO, so first I should probably introduce myself. My name is Liz, and I have a large background in many software-related fields. The experience I have in those fields do not consist of professional experience, but rather practical experience. Even though I have not been hired for such expertise, this is because I am currently not looking to be hired in these fields; I’m only seventeen, after all. Among other things, leaning more conservatively while aiming to be a centrist has led me to believe that free speech is a must in any modern society. I am a big fan of EDM, and I also like a good range of other music genres. Needless to say, the majority of my days are spent in front of a computer screen. Anyway, that’s enough about me, on with the article. (if you want to know more about me you can find me in CYGO communities, usually under the name RailRunner16, my messages are open)

So What’s the News?

I have been playing Minecraft, a worldwide best-selling game by Mojang A.B., for a good chunk of my life. In fact, I have been playing since before the release of 1.6.4 in September 2013. Lately, I have been boycotting the game, for a simple yet different reason: Mojang is trying to kiss up to China’s communist government. You’re probably thinking, “Woah, you can’t just drop a bomb like that”, but I sure can. Ever wonder why they didn’t add sharks in the aquatic update, then added pandas in the next update? There’s your answer. You see, during that time, there was a massive movement in China about the endangerment of sharks. When confronted about why sharks would not be in Minecraft, Mojang made a statement that they had two big reasons:

  1. They didn’t want people trying to ride sharks in real life, or in game because that would be “animal abuse”. What? Yeah, don’t ask me what genius came up with this. Also, the animal abuse statement is funny coming from a game where you burn cows to get food.
  2. They didn’t want kids to go out and try to kill sharks – again, in real life. This reeks of anti-extinction effort, which is okay. However, political issues like this should not affect development. It especially shouldn’t determine whether or not something gets added to the game.

Pandas, Anyone?

As a former resident of Florida, I can assure you that the world would be okay without sharks. However since that is not what this article is about, it is panda time. Mojang decided to add panda bears, bamboo forests, and the especially rare red panda to the game the update directly after the no-shark update. I guess the fact that panda bears are primarily found in China makes it okay to add them, even though they’re in more danger of extinction than sharks. In other words, this is Mojang contradicting themselves on a massive scale.

The Reason

The only evident reason Mojang is prioritizing the Chinese market is because it is so huge. Chinese players make up a massive part of Minecraft’s always-evolving player base. From a business standpoint this makes sense to some degree. However, if the rest of the players were aware of this, and what it means for the game, Minecraft would lose an even bigger chunk of its player base.

The Meaning

You may be wondering, “What’s the meaning of all of this?”. Really, this should be a lesson for any game development studio similar to Mojang. A lesson to keep politics out of your game, even if it does mean you lose a chunk of your player base. It is also a lesson that a game’s content should stay true to the game’s purpose.

Alternatives

If you really want to get on board with stopping this Chinese agenda, you can play Minecraft alternatives. If enough people play alternatives like Minetest, it can really help prove a point to Mojang. That point being that our minds are not butter and we do have a voice that needs to be heard. I personally still love Minecraft itself because it made up a large chunk of my childhood. I won’t stop playing it from time to time just because Mojang decides to kiss up to China. That also doesn’t mean I won’t fight for change. I personally wish to see Minecraft back to the way it was: playful, carefree and non-political.