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I've run Freenet twice in the last twenty years. Maybe 2006, 2012? Each time CSAM was surprisingly visible. Maybe these days it's kicked off to a corner but back then it was pretty much a click away.

I'm going to have to say if that's the basic motivation for censorship resistant communication in the USA, I am disappointed and sad.

Wonder if it's actually useful in places where you actually have censorship, or if it's just a nice beacon for the ISP to send the rubber hose men to visit.

Not to mention random links purporting to be terrorist manuals, normal porn, incoherent blogs and the other usual detritus.




That was my experience too, the few times I tried it. I haven't been back for just that reason. There's nothing that I can do on there that I can't do on the real internet and even the tiniest risk of CSAM material reaching my machine is not worth it.

It's sad but I think in most modern democracies that are relatively free, like the USA and EU, the primary use for these services is CSAM. There's no other reason to use it, except maybe paranoia or technical curiosity, and only the former will keep someone using it. The technically curious will move on quite quickly.


" There's no other reason to use it, except maybe paranoia or technical curiosity,"

How about idealism?

I mean 20 years ago, you would have been declared paranoid, if you said secret government agencies and big corporations track everything you do online - but now you just speak a inconvinient truth, most people are aware of, but try to ignore it as much as possible.

It is good, to have working alternative plattforms, in case there are really needed by us in the west.

But yeah, currently I do not use them either, because my last experience with them were "dark", too. Because yes, the strongest incentive right now have those people not acting out of idealism, but because their content is not tolerated on the open web. Quite a shitty situation. How do one establish a "alternative, anonymous" communication service, without attracting all the kicked out elsewhere btards first?


You are falsely equating anonymity for privacy.

The goal of anonymity is to avoid disclosure of identity but not secrecy of content. You don’t care if the entire world sees the substance of the communication. You care that they cannot detect who you are. Networks like this and Tor share your information across a large number of nodes to resist identity detection.

Privacy is the opposite. You don’t care that the entire world knows who you are so long as they can never read your communications. Privacy is challenging to achieve with anonymity because it is almost impossible for one party to trust the other against information disclosure if they have no idea who they are.

The first world problem is confusing these concepts so that you can have your cake and eat it too, typically for self-serving reasons.


Freenet provides both: Secrecy of content and pseudonymity — both are required to enable confidential disclosure to a journalist on the (typically valid) assumption that the opsec of the journalist is far from perfect.


The entire goal of journalism is information disclosure, to publish a story. That is not privacy. The goal here is to not reveal the identity of a source.


The goal is to publish a story. Hiding the identity of a source is a way towards that goal.

The journalist does not need privacy or confidentiality to publish. The source does. And without the source, there’s no story.


Have you ever been threatened by a right-wing extremist that they would come to your house when you answered their hatred online and pointed out the flaws in their logic?

I have been.

That’s why I deeply appreciate having a pseudonym that’s separated from where I live so I don’t have to fear Neonazis turning up at my doorstep or attacking my kids when I write something they do not like.


You know that you could just name yourself "John Doe" and that's it, right?


As the original commenter pointed out, neonazi networks using their connections in law enforcement and other corporations (or simply setting up honeypots) are a real concern for personal safety.

EDIT: For what it's worth, if neonazis are not a threat where you reside (where is that and how can i get citizenship?), any bad actor could engage in the same kind of behavior, whether it's a political police, an industrial group whose corruption/pollution you're fighting, a local mafia who wants to ruin you...


Yes. That experience made me change to that. But “John Doe” will quickly be my IP address when there’s a Nazi in police (see the reports about organized Neonazis in police and military in Germany in the past few years who also leaked police data to other Neonazis).

I can use Tor or I can use Freenet. That’s it. I use both: Tor to google simple medical questions. Freenet to discuss. Because in Freenet — different from Tor — the Forums don’t die and the prevailing forums don’t block me with neigh unsolvable CAPTCHAs.


If y'all only try to see if there is CSAM and then uninstall when you succeed, then of course the CSAM percentage will become high because only the CSAM perverts do not leave!

So instead keep using it and actually put the other content onto it yourself!

Hosting on Freenet is free and easy, you just upload a site and post it to FMS and it will be online for many years if people keep accessing it.

You don't need any server whatsoever: The machines of the other users store content which you upload (in an encrypted fashion so they cannot censor it and aren't legally culpable for it). It automatically gets replicated to more machines as it becomes more popular, thus good content stays available for a very long time and unpopular content gets garbage-collected.

So put your "money", i.e. effort, where your mouth is:

Don't just only constantly criticize FAANG for lack of privacy and censorship.

Instead, also take care of actively maintaining the spaces which provide privacy & freedom so they don't become barren.

A free public space which is only controlled by the general public needs the general public to take care of it.


Honestly, both times I wanted to see what was there. It provided no material benefit over, say, tilde.town, with added (1) legal risk (CSAM) and (2) ethical risk (providing some hosting to CSAM).

There's this thing where a certain level of censorship resistance and free speech seems to yield some very horrible things. I don't even want to remark on the US law (first amendment rights, legal analysis) here, just focusing on ethics.

> A free public space which is only controlled by the general public needs the general public to take care of it.

I would remark here that the traditional system for taking care of a general space is to have a government controlling it, whether that be the council of elders, a senate, or a monarch. Fully democratic/anarchist space management is not typical of a human society. The historical outcome of fully unregulated online spaces seems to be a lot of CSAM and groupthink.

anyway. freenet is technically interesting, legally dodgy, and, imho, an ethical trap.


To be consistent with that argument, you also need to oppose WhatsApp groups on ethical grounds. Do you?


I have no ethical obligation to move my assets onto a corrupt network in order to reduce the percentage of illegal material there, no.

This is a ridiculous position.

The network is flawed. It's not hard to provide anonymity and yet still be able to remove child pornography.

Stop being an apologist for a network that delivers child pornography. Absolutely nothing makes this unfixable except the creators' dedication to making false ethical arguments.


You should investigate how this changes with the Web Of Trust plugin and FMS — both have been in use for more than a decade.

Both provide user-controlled moderation. They make it your responsibility as user not to boost people who post content you disagree with. And if it isn’t seen, it disappears automatically from Freenet, just as it does with a caching proxy.

Both are game-changers, and if it weren’t for them, I would have a hard time using Freenet.


The problem really, really isn't the percentage. It is the total number.


> So instead keep using it and actually put the other content onto it yourself!

“Make the place I like better by being there!”

Nah. Make the place you like better, then people will want to be there.


I've used Freenet and I2P heavily on and off for years. It still baffles me how people don't understand the mentality behind using Freenet. Censorship resistant platforms help keep society free, yes. And they are sometimes abused by bad people just like any other tool, yes. But they are so much more than that.

Do you remember the early internet? The Internet before JavaScript, ads, and commercialization was everywhere? Do you remember surfing through homemade webpages that someone put a lot of thought and effort into? Do you remember usenet? Do you remember not even imagining that some corporation or government was collecting your data in-bulk?

That's Freenet. It's the internet that should have been.

I came for the memes and I stayed for the community. FMS and WoT (Freenet Message System and Web of Trust) use trust lists to decide what I see and most people who use FMS and Sone (sort of like Twitter) are decent. Pedo's and generally bad people typically use Frost-Next, a third party application that the Freenet Project does not endorse that is susceptible to spam. I have had so many in-depth, thought-provoking discussions on FMS over the years. Far more than any other clearnet website today, Reddit included. There is a real sense of community on Freenet you'll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

I enjoy making websites and writing. Freenet hosts numerous websites (freesites) I have made over the years and a ton of my political and philosophical writings. I just finished making a Super Mario 64 Freesite in honor of one of my favorite video games. I spent a lot of time working on it and I'm proud of it. That's just for Freenet. I live in the United States too, and this is what I use Freenet for. I also host the Astronomy Picture Of the Day freesite I update everyday. You don't have to need censorship resistance to use Freenet, it's existence merely safeguards the prerequisite to all real civil liberties in the digital age-- privacy. I am convinced that the existence of Freenet and tools like it (especially Tor) are necessary for a free society to exist.

I2P is great too and I'm just as passionate about that, though it's been awhile since my servers have been up. Same philosophy of censorship resistance, but with I2P you have to run a server 24/7 to host content and can have dynamic content as well. Freenet is more distributed. I2P is like Tor but is more used by nerds than criminals. Both I2P and Freenet are amazing tools. I highly recommend people to check them out.


Decentralized platforms need signed messages, signed upvotes / downvotes, and an open ranking algorithm otherwise they can never be an alternative to centralized systems like Twitter

Censorship shouldnt be the central focus. The real hope is that from 1000 ranking algorithms, we can find one that isn't a divisiveness amplifier


Which is exactly what Freenet provides, because it is needed to prevent censorship by spamming.

Along with pseudonymity that prevents people from pressuring you into voting as they wish.


Web of trust is rudimentary, something closer to pagerank is needed and that would rely on up/down votes which also need to be signed


What would be closer to pagerank?

Freenet ranks others by their distance to you and weights their votes from that before aggregating them.

And the up- and down-votes in the Web of trust are signed, because that is what happens automatically if you upload something under your key in Freenet.


Raph Levien implemented an attack-resistant trust-metric that had some formal similarities to PageRank for Advogato, a free-software developer community which failed: it turned out it needed some moderation even with this mechanism, and it didn't get enough. But the ideas and experience might be useful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advogato


This sounds like it tries to establish the notion of global respectability (see https://web.archive.org/web/20170628190710/http://www.advoga...). It’s something that I consider futile — part of the huge failure of clearnet moderation: To moderate billions of people, you have to give up on the notion of a global notion of who is always right.

It might be possible to establish for a given not heavily contested fact whether it is correct, but not to establish for a given person whether they are a crank. Just ask people around the world about the POTUS.

Freenet replaces that by personal trust. The only remainder of a global trust is initial visibility via seed-IDs. And that is transparent and can be revoked by every user.


> Wonder if it's actually useful in places where you actually have censorship

It's not like we're immune to this in the west, didn't you see the censorship on all the social media recently?


> I'm going to have to say if that's the basic motivation for censorship resistant communication in the USA, I am disappointed and sad.

P2P was mostly about piracy. NNTP was used before that. BBS's were before that. And what comes next? IPFS?


Yikes! Sounds like something to avoid.




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