Updates June 10, 2021: Introducing Speakeasy, CYGO Search, and the Freedom Webring

I have a lot to update the community with today regarding some newly released concepts that have been under development and consideration for some time.

File Management for Bleu Users

Recently, I have rolled out an update that gives users enhanced control over any files they upload as post attachments, whether it be photos, videos, documents, etc.

Users may now navigate to My Profile>Files and see a list of every file they have uploaded in a post (outside of spaces).

Users may then right-click (or press and hold on mobile) to see options. Users may then copy the link to the file, download the file, or view the post associated with the file. If a user wishes to delete the file, they may then delete the post associated with the file. This will remove the file from our server.

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This is just another part of our broad effort to give users maximum control over their data and experience.

Speakeasy by CYGO

Speakeasy is an instant messaging frontend based on Element.io, which uses the Matrix protocol. Currently, we are only hosting the frontend, but if there is enough interest in this viable alternative to platforms like Discord and Telegram, we will setup our own Matrix server, ensuring users can indeed speak freely, without restriction, and without compromising their privacy. This is a step in the right direction toward offering a fully-fledged instant messaging application for CYGO Network users.

CYGO Search

We have now released CYGO Search, which is an experimental meta search engine. Currently, it’s still very much in its infancy, and in time we hope to expand this into a TRUE search engine, which indexes websites itself, so that it does not mirror results (and therefore censorship, or just bad results) from other search engines. While it may not be the best and most practical search engine currently available, it is a symbolic step of offerings to come.

Freedom Webring

We have now started the Freedom Webring. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a Webring is, I recommend this Wikipedia article on the history of Webrings. The Freedom Webring is available in a much more simple fashion than many of its predecessors, creating an index of Freedom-supporting websites as a resource for Freedom-loving individuals. This will be available to any website which in some way supports freedom or libertarian philosophy; including freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of information, etc. If you are interested in adding your website, take a look here.

Bleu Updates: Navigation & Notifications

This is a brief overview of the updates, fixes, and changes we’ve made throughout the past few weeks.

We have dramatically improved NAVIGATION universally, for all platforms. Navigation on browser, desktop, and mobile is now entirely consistent, with new buttons for Space navigation and News on the header bar, which makes the mobile app increasingly user-friendly, without the necessity to access the sidebar.

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New space navigation

New SPACE navigation gives you a list of spaces which you are a member of, with a search function making it convenient for users like myself with a large number of spaces. This improved navigation also gives users easy access to create a new space, or access the space directory to browse for new spaces.

The failure of the entire notification system has been resolved. If you received hundreds of emails notifying you of old activity, this is why. Users will now receive notifications according to the preferences they have set in their Account Settings under “E-Mail Summaries” and “Notifications”. You may notice that these notifications are NOT INSTANT. This is not a bug, but rather an intentional implementation to curb the overwhelming problem of social media addiction. This is also the benefit of the daily email summary; any content you’ve missed will be sent directly to your email, so there’s no need to anxiously reload your feed in anticipation of content.

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Notification flood after bug fix

U.S. Military: Intimidating Citizens. Are we becoming a police state?

Merriam-Webster defines a police state as a ‘political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures’.

Some characteristics of police states include extensive government surveillance, overwhelming presence of police or military, police enforcement of oppressive mandates, etc. I stumbled upon an article from last May on The Price of Liberty which breaks down these characteristics in a concise but comprehensive manner.

Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot more about police and the military, whether it’s the radically left-wing ‘defund the police’ movement, or the typically conservative ‘back the blue’; there are two very radical and opposing ‘movements’, both with their own slew of rhetoric, some of it being false and others being blatantly obvious truths. I’m not going to attempt to appeal to people on the left, because their arguments can’t be supported using any sort of logical reasoning. Clearly, the core idea behind ‘back the blue’ is that having armed police officers to respond to potentially-violent situations is necessary for public safety; which is arguably correct and I take no issue with that. The problem, rather, is this knee-jerk reaction to reflexively support police and military, even when their actions are clearly indefensible. So far in 2021, there have been a few troubling events that I think are worth highlighting;

Military Occupation of the Capitol

I figured I’d tackle this one first, since it’s the most widely known; after the unruly radical right-wing protesters gained access to the Capitol on January 6, a lot of overzealous security precautions were put in place. Among these, was the deployment of National Guard troops – thousands of them. None of the individuals who infiltrated the Capitol on the 6th brought firearms or weapons. Regardless of your political persuasion, it is fair to say that the massive military occupation for such a long duration of time has not been a necessary security precaution.

Tucker Carlson Fiasco

Another popular instance occurred just over a week ago, when Fox News host Tucker Carlson called out the U.S. Military for its ‘feminization’, criticizing the ridiculousness of things like maternity flight suits (because pregnant women serving in the military is such a fabulous idea, right?). The official U.S. Army Twitter account tweeted a response to Carlson, triggering an uproar among the conservative community. Tucker also responded on his show.

Guam National Guard Targets Congresswoman MTG

During a speech at CPAC, congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene incorrectly claimed that Guam was a ‘foreign land’. Of course, while Guam is technically a U.S. territory, it isn’t a state, making it quite a simple misconception. More to her point, sending taxpayer money to Guam is arguably wasteful spending, when it could be better utilized here in the continental U.S.

What’s the connection?

In all of these instances, the military has taken the position of protecting government institutions against the citizens, as well as intimidating prominent individuals who have questioned their course of action.

Notably, intimidating citizens, whether they be talk show hosts or congressmen, is not the purpose of our military.

Meanwhile, our border security has been compromised, just yesterday we had a mass-shooting, committed by an Islamic extremist targeting white individuals, diplomatic discussions with our adversaries (China, Russia, North Korea) have led to increased tensions, so I believe it would be fair to say that the military has much more pressing things to attend to, rather than ‘diversity’ or public relations.

Are we living in a police state?

We are living in a country where individuals have been arrested for refusing to wear face masks, in which governors are releasing violent felons from jail, where illegal migrants are welcomed with open arms; meanwhile the country is still experiencing government-imposed economic failure and individuals are being targeted by law enforcement simply because they exercise their basic constitutional rights.

If we aren’t living in a police state, then we aren’t far from it.

Parler: Conflicts of Interest Undermine Freedom of Speech

Since 2020, American conservatives have been flocking to Parler like moths to a flame. Perhaps that analogy fits better than most would expect.

Readers who have been following my columns here on the CYGO blog for the past year probably know where I’m going with this already. To put it succinctly; one cannot have a for-profit social network that simultaneously protects freedom of expression. As I laid out in a previous brief post regarding what I feel are the proper fundamental principles of a free speech platform, “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”. At this point, I think we could safely include Parler in that list.

I think before I really get into Parler’s fundamental, systemic issues as a platform, it’s imperative to note that Parler is in large part funded by Rebekah Mercer, according to a plethora of sources including CNN and other outlets. Normally I wouldn’t link to an article from CNN, but their piece provides a decent synopsis about Rebekah Mercer if you overlook the hyperbolic and false narratives regarding Parler’s user base. It’s not only fair to say, but potentially an understatement that Mercer has deep pockets, given that her father is a billionaire hedge fund manager. Mercer also has (or rather, had) a stake in Cambridge Analytica, which you may recall having obtained personal information collected by Facebook in order to create targeted political advertising just a few years ago.

Given the fact that the main financial support and control of Parler is in the hands of an individual whom additionally has no problem with Cambridge Analytica unethically misusing personal data, what makes anyone think that Parler actually respects user privacy? Relating to that, Parler implements Google Fonts in their front-end, and everyone knows Google’s stance on personal privacy. Even more atrocious though, Parler requires a phone number to even sign up. You can’t use a VoIP number or a burner number, it must be through your mobile carrier. Then, once you’ve given up your personal phone number and all possible anonymity, to gain full functionality of your account you must upload a copy of your photo identification. No, that’s not an exaggeration, it’s what they enthusiastically call “Parler Citizen Verification”. What could go wrong giving a company funded by multi-millionaires, that is known for widespread security issues your state-issued photo identification? It sounds absolutely absurd, but really it isn’t surprising.

The entire goal of Parler isn’t to provide first-amendment style free speech on the internet. The entire goal of Parler is to simply make a profit.

Parler sells advertisements, which creates a conflict of interest. When users engage in speech that prominent, well-paying advertisers dislike, Parler is going to be under pressure to silence those users. When it comes to making a profit, I’m sure they’ll hardly have an issue silencing a few users or purging some accounts which promote ideologies deemed ‘unfit’ by their advertisers and financial contributors.

Notably, soon after Parler’s relaunch, Parler decided to ban Milo Yiannopoulos after he made “offensive” statements opposing illegal immigration and LGBT lifestyle. Clearly that isn’t indicative of free speech, that’s more of something one would expect from Facebook or Twitter. It would be rather naive to perceive this as an isolated incident, after all, if they would do so to an account such as Milo’s with a large following, what’s to stop them from doing it to smaller accounts?

Parler has a lot of other blatant issues too, such as its security breaches, lack of proper functionality (multiple attempts necessary to login, consistently timing out), amateurish user interface, comic stupidity of management (hosting on AWS and third-party proviers, and not to mention the horrible new logo design which Gab’s founder Andrew Torba accurately compared to the likeness of a menstrual pad.

The last issue I want to focus on isn’t included in that list, though. Parler seems to prioritize public figures (media personalities, politicians, celebrities, etc) over its standard users. When you browse through Parler, the only accounts you ever see are those of prominent conservatives like Sean Hannity; you never see individuals who post engaging content actually build a following in an organic way. Having open dialogue simply doesn’t work when some voices are able to unfairly shout down the voices of others, whether they are opposing or affirming.

Before I come to a close, I think I should address one thing I see so often. Individuals complain about the in-fighting between us free speech social networks, claiming that we’re ‘working toward the same goal’ and that the other ‘isn’t the enemy’. As I’ve laid out, Parler is not working toward the same goal as organizations like CYGO, Gab, and others which take freedom of speech seriously. Here, we don’t have ‘competitors’, and I have no opposition to other platforms and organizations fighting for the same cause; in fact the more we have, the better. However, when platforms claim to support our ideals, but act in an opposing way, it’s our responsibility to call it out.

It’s time to ditch Mozilla.

Over the years, using Linux, Mozilla’s Firefox has almost always arguably been the best option for an open-source, privacy-respecting browser. I’ve been personally using Firefox for nearly 6 years as my primary web browser and I’ve been relatively satisfied with its functionality, stability, and extensibility.

It’s been obvious for some time now that Mozilla is no longer (or perhaps maybe, has never been) an organization that champions an open internet, freedom of expression, and personal privacy.

Mozilla still continues to sell itself as an anti-establishment organization fighting for the little guy, despite the facts that I’m about to point out.

Mozilla couldn’t care less about your privacy.

By default, Mozilla Firefox has telemetry enabled. This means that data regarding your browsing activity and usage of Firefox are sent directly to Mozilla. In all fairness, you can disable it, but any organization which puts privacy first isn’t going to have it enabled by default.

If that wasn’t bad enough, a few months ago Firefox started pushing DNS over HTTPs. But that sounds good, right? DNS over HTTPS isn’t inherently a bad thing, except by default it’s provided by Cloudflare (which, you can read my previous post regarding Cloudflare).

Mozilla doesn’t support freedom of expression and takes radically-left positions.

This summer, I noticed this appear as a ‘snippet’ in the new tab page of my Firefox browser:

Of course, I didn’t appreciate having mantras of “social justice” plastered on my new tab page, so I went into my settings to turn off Snippets. Well, upon opening the page, Snippets were already disabled.

Upon seeing this, I decided to submit a bug to Firefox’s bug-tracking software known as Bugzilla. This bug received two replies from developers and was in short order closed as an apparent non-issue. I intended on including the screenshot of my submission to Bugzilla, but it has apparently been deleted.

Having leftist propaganda beamed directly into my browser without my consent is bad enough. Last month, early in January, Mozilla called publicly in a blog post for “more than deplatforming” of individuals who don’t align with their preferred political, social, and moral ideologies.

Based on all of this, firstly, CYGO Network will NO LONGER be recommending any of Mozilla’s products, Firefox included. Secondly, we should stop using Mozilla software. Is it really that difficult to see the possibility of Mozilla implementing some sort of utility that blocks websites like ours, without the consent of its users?

What browser do I recommend?

To preface this, I’ve seen a lot of people promoting and shilling for Brave browser. I’ve had discussions with colleagues, friends, and users regarding Brave over the past few years, and I must say that it’s just another Chromium-based browser with a plethora of alarming concerns. Brave browser isn’t a suitable piece of software in itself, much less an alternative to Firefox.

As I said above, Firefox at its core is still a good piece of software. This considered, I recommend GNU IceCat. IceCat is a Firefox-based web browser that removes all Mozilla-specific utilities and telemetry, previously known as IceWeasel which was the browser shipped by default in Debian. It’s also worth noting that since IceCat is a project of GNU and the Free Software Foundation that IceCat contains no non-free or proprietary software. It’s also worth noting that there are unofficial builds available for Microsoft Windows, and I opened an issue on the Github repository requesting that instructions for building the package be added to the README.

Updates regarding CYGO Cloud services

CYGO Cloud is no longer available for open sign-ups.

All accounts created after Sunday, January 24, 2021 will not have storage allocated until you have made a donation to CYGO Network. For accounts created prior to this date, storage quotas will remain the same. If a user desires a storage allocation expansion, they must make a donation.

Contributions between $3-$8 will grant users 1GB of storage (permanently).

Contributions between $10-$15 will grant users 2GB of storage (permanently).

If you need more than 2GB of storage, or less than 1GB of storage, please send an email to contact@cygo.network.

If you have made a contribution and need your account storage allocations updated, send an email to contact@cygo.network.

Bleu updates: readable URLs and mobile navigation improvement.

Today’s update includes a long-awaited feature, human-readable URLs. This will make navigation and sharing of links much more convenient, spaces can have their own custom URLs, and user profile URLs contain your username.

For spaces, use ‘/s/space-name’ and for users use ‘/u/username’.

The next portion of the update includes options under account settings to create new spaces, view and search the spaces and members directory.

This solves the problem with the lack of sidebar in the mobile app, making it fully-functional from your phone without the need to ever access from another device.

Bleu for Android is now available!

As some of you may know, we’ve been looking forward to this for years now. We finally have a functional, native mobile app!

You can download it on our home page, or from this page which gives some basic installation instructions.

It’s also worth noting that we have versions available for desktop operating system, including Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, and GNU/Linux.

We hope that this makes Bleu more available and convenient for you to use.

Liberal Logic: ‘Quit thinking’

As most of the people who follow my blog know, I don’t often write editorials, but when I do, it’s because I found something considerably significant.

This morning, I happened to quickly glance at my Facebook feed, and I saw a post from someone on my friend’s list, who happens to be left-leaning. The content of the post wasn’t really surprising, it’s just your typical tired Democrat narrative regarding their fetish for face masks. It was the reply to a comment which I found to be absolutely appalling and disgusting, but at the same time, I thought it worth bringing to attention as it really epitomizes this flawed way of thinking, devoid of all logic and rationality.

I won’t spoil the reply, I’ll let you read it and decide for yourself what you think about it first;

As much as the replying ‘individual’ deserves to be publicly shamed and ostracized for making this statement along with others that I’ve seen in the past, in the interest of privacy I blocked out all identifying information.

To the point, though, it’s clear that the information just doesn’t add up. Flu infections are down astronomically due to mask-wearing but COVID-19 infections are at the highest they’ve ever been? From that, one could only make one of two reasonable conclusions; either masks are relatively ineffective (as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the guy who also admitted to estimating COVID-19 data, initially stated) or that somehow the numbers are over-inflated.

11,500 people in Catawba County didn’t wear masks? That number doesn’t add up either. Firstly, that’s for sure a rounded number, there wouldn’t be an even number of cases. More significantly, when I’ve been shopping in Catawba County, I saw significantly few people not wearing masks, in many cases, I was the only one without a mask. By that logic, one would assume that no one who is in public wears masks in Catawba County, but nothing could be further from the truth. This once again points back to the first conclusion presented above. It is clear that many mask-wearing individuals have contracted infections of COVID-19 regardless.

With that considered, this guy wants everyone to “quit thinking and simply follow the guidelines”. These guidelines have been created by people who have repeatedly lied and misled the public, as well as controversial political figures. It’s also worth mentioning, that here in North Carolina, our DHHS secretary Mandy Cohen only practiced medicine for about 2 years and no longer holds a medical license.

What’s disturbing though, is that the person replying to that comment, and the others like him who think with this collectivist mindset don’t care about these facts and obvious logical fallacies.

What happens when you question them? Apparently you’re a “denier”, presumably of “science” and “fact”, but really it’s just a narrative with no basis. Let’s be clear, in order to believe in any of this, you really would have to stop thinking.

Blind trust and blind faith is a dangerous thing, and you would think, given that I know the person who wrote that reply is an atheist, that he would jump up and down in agreement with that statement.

Such trust in authority figures is what leads to the legitimization of oppressive authoritarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, The Soviet Union, and Communist China. People trusted Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. They followed their guidelines, and, well, we see where that got them; thought crime, silence of dissent, genocide, and complete government control of all information.

The United States and the belief in a free society was founded by individuals who questioned authority figures, and so they aimed to give the authority of self-government to the people. Elected officials aren’t chosen to have authority over the citizens, but rather are chosen by the citizens to carry out their will. This is a very important distinction, and as such, no appointed or un-elected individual should have the authority to create any guideline, mandate, or law, without the consent of the citizen.

Individuals who comply with tyrannical mandates and guidelines are legitimizing the abuse of power within our system of government and therefore complicit in the prevalence of fascism. To clear up some basic elementary school social studies, the executive branch (governor) does not have the authority to create laws. If governor-issued mandates were simply ignored, the state of North Carolina and the entire country would not be in the state which it is currently.

Questioning authority is healthy and ensures that individual freedoms are not violated. Freedom of thought is what makes the United States the exceptional and innovative country that it has always been. Freedom of thought is what makes you an individual. We must eradicate this dangerous collectivist mindset before the state of North Carolina and the United States befall the same fates as much of Asia and Eastern Europe.

Dear Spamhaus,

Screw you.

What makes you think you are an authority in determining which networks and websites are indeed spam? According to your CBL (Composite Blocklist) website, the IP address of our email server has been listed over 90 times within a month. But why? We don’t even have a mailing list here, just a few personal email addresses along with web applications that send emails when a user requests them. Well, according to you (Spamhaus), my server is infected with malware that is sending out malicious spam emails. I find that interesting considering there is only ONE account on the server, and that SSH connections are NOT ALLOWED from outside of the server’s own network. Additionally, the server and all emails are secured using clamav, there’s virtually no way for my server to be infected with malware, and if it were I would have logs to back that up. All of that considered, unless someone has entered my home, sat down at my desk, somehow managed to guess my username and password, and then executed some sort of malicious software, script, or cron job, then I’m 100% sure that our network here at CYGO is being fraudulently listed on this spam blocklist.

To Google, Microsoft, and other large email providers,

Screw you, too.

You have been blocking our emails (not sending them to the spam folder rather than inboxes, but BLACKLISTING ENTIRELY) for over a year at this point. I’ve proven this personally using my own GMail and Outlook accounts, as well as having observed this phenomenon with other users who don’t use our connectMail system. Other email providers, such as Protonmail, have received our emails with no issue whatsoever.

To our users,

This has been a great inconvenience to many of you, especially users of CYGO emails. Clearly, Spamhaus and other organizations aim to harm us as an organization and limit the reach of our contact, either due to financial gains from special interests or due to corrupt leadership (or well, both).

I would advise other website administrators and people who operate email servers to STOP USING SPAMHAUS. Clearly Spamhaus is an authoritarian organization which aims to use its reach and the appeal of spam prevention in order to stifle means of communication.

I implore you, if you have sent me an email and I have NOT replied, please contact me using Telegram (@humbletyrant) because if you are using a mainstream email provider (other than like, Protonmail and probably Tutanota) my emails have probably been blacklisted from reaching you.