Non-evil platforms for Buddhist monks/nuns to post on, escaping GAFAM/FAANG/whatever

Bits were, yes. Their blog is silent now and their chat service has very little activity. I am glad to hear you’re still feeling positive about Firefox.

I’ve got privacy badger and the duck duck go plugin. Oh, and that’s another thing - duckduckgo uses Bing as their index. Blech!

Thank you Bhante,
I have sent an email to Tom and others in the team, with the link to this topic here and explained my concerns about using Facebook, especially to promote Spiritual-Environmental community practice and really contribute to the UN 2030 global goals.

Yes, I agree, ideally the promotion should be on ethical platforms and so show and lead the way. And retaining minimal info on Facebook in order to redirect people to a better platform is I think a middle way, in this case anyway. As you said “medium is the message” and “it’s not about being pure and perfect”

There is another NT 2030 Campaign zoom event coming up on second Saturday in November, the same topic as last one on “How do we know things” . I believe you will be again on the panel? I intend to raise a question for all 4 panellists, like "How do you know what social media platform to join, and what criteria do you use to make the choice? If you are using Facebook, why did you choose it over some other social media platforms? "

I will modify my questions, depending on what comes up during the panel discussion.


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Hi, I just googled ‘how ethical is Facebook’ and this comprehensive review paper came up - a good reference paper for discussion and change.


Great link, thanks, @Dana

BTW: just when I talked up Mattermost to be all awesome (and it is, by and large), it has very recently added some analytics, which my uBlock Origin plugin in Firefox (I’m a Firefox user also, @Jhanarato) wasn’t happy about, and automatically blocked. I asked about that here, as I’d like the easy ability for those analytics to not be collected (and I’d at least like to be able to opt out, which virtually all Open Source apps allow).

I would hope we don’t drift too far OT here, as Copyright discussion probably belongs in it’s own thread (as it’s a potentially explosive topic with many competing viewpoints).

But let me say quickly: I’m in a Commonwealth country: Canada (and Copyright law is different from country to country). BTW: Isn’t Australia also a Commonwealth country?

My understanding of Copyright in the Commonwealth countries, is that there are “fair use” clauses to Copyright law, which allow legal copying of Copyrighted content, as long as it’s for “personal study”, or “research purposes”.

So works of non-fiction, etc, which actually have academic or research value, could fall under this “fair use”. But if you “pirate”, say, a Madonna album (clearly a form of Entertainment, just like, say, video games, most movies, music, etc), it would be awfully hard to argue that you copied it sheerly for “personal study”, or “research purposes”.

Is “Copyright enfringement” “stealing” (AKA “piracy”)? I say, no, it’s not stealing, because at present the onus is on the Copyright holder to track down the Copyright Enfringer (who is likely profiting from their Copyrighted work), and take the Enfringer to civil law court. It’s not the onus of the police (at present), to come and arrest a Copyright Enfringer for “stealing”.

Caveat: I am not a lawyer! Don’t take what I said here to be actual legal advice. Talk to an actual lawyer in your country if you have any doubts.

There’s also Matrix, which I think is garnering more users. Matrix is still in only a beta grade level of maturity, however. I would suggest it’s best left to geeks at the present time. For those who might want to run their own server, it will need to be a beefy machine, as Matrix is currently written in Python, and it isn’t very efficient code at present.

Also worthy of mention is Mastadon. It’s an Open Source clone of Twitter. A Mastadon server can be federated (available to the entire world, to receive posts), or private, at the discretion of the server admin.

Be warned that if you run your own federated Mastadon server, you will need moderators who actively block the garbage posts out of the server (like porn, spam, etc). Suttacentral Discourse already having moderators of its own is a great resource, I tell you.

I think an important takeaway here is that as soon as you have some sort of self-hosted server, which is public to the world (AKA “federated”), you had better have a team of moderators to go with that! My Mattermost server, by contrast, is private, so the moderation effort is much less: each new user needed access to an “invite link”, which I allow and deny with discretion up front before new user account creation.

An analogy here is that you’ll either need “bouncers” inside the nightclub (in the case of federation), or bouncers outside, by-and-large guarding initial entrance to a private nightclub (in the case of a private server). “Bouncer” here is analogous to moderation effort by humans, and “nightclub” is analogous to a server with some sort of forum/communication software on it.

So true! It is just so, and not otherwise!

Of course we can’t hope to achieve pristine purity, eliminating every speck of “evil” from our digital lives. It’s a matter of degree. It’s sort of like the yin-yang, where even the white half of it still has that black dot inside it. (The “black dot” in my digital life would include things like WhatsApp, the Android operating system, and the Google Account, mentioned above).

Another analogy I like to use goes like this: nobody wants their house invaded by mice or rats, right? Even though they are cute to look at, they can carry disease, and they poop everywhere, with no discrimination, or scruples (as we understand them). They also reproduce prolifically, such that you have no choice but to try to seal them out of your life the best you can. The Social Media corporations of the world are just like those mice and rats: sure they’re cute, but they are highly invasive, and have no scruples or remorse as they psychologically “poop” in all the corners your life.

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Thanks for that awesome point! I think the PM (Private Message) feature in this forum is greatly underappreciated, as it’s a Social Media-esque feature, if you perceive it as such!

I suggest carefully using it more, as your “trust levels” gradually increase with each other one by one, and new spiritual friendships blossom here.


There is online a slide presentation overview of network effects - Network Effects Bible. It shows Facebook and other platforms connectivity diagrams, etc. It may be useful to some of you here for educating others.


@Dana, there are 3 other long-winded threads that I’m guessing you haven’t read yet:

I’d like to invite Apologists for Social Media to post in one of the above three threads, instead of in this thread. This thread is for people who want to discuss Non-evil platforms for Buddhist monks/nuns to post on, escaping GAFAM/FAANG/whatever, not for those wishing to cast FUD on the utility of doing so.

Whether a house is infested with one rat, or one million rats, the onus on a house owner is to try to have their house rat-free. Go ahead and argue that the Network Effects that one million rats have managed to achieve have created an entitlement for them to stay, so let’s keep the status quo and do nothing. You know, “might makes right,” for those powerful, unbeatable rats. Sorry, I’ll never be convinced of that.

Bhante Subharo,
I then look forward to seeing the Home Pages of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, Buddhist Council of NSW, Buddhist Council of Victoria and other Buddhist networks without Facebook symbol to click, let alone invitation to follow them through Facebook. And that you and others skilled in IT help them towards better alternatives. I think that would be a good start and I believe easy to implement.

“Happy, the arising of Buddhas!
Sukho buddhānamuppādo,
Happy, the teaching of Dhamma!
sukhā saddhammadesanā;
Happy is the harmony of the Saṅgha,
Sukhā saṅghassa sāmaggī,
and the striving of the harmonious is happy.
samaggānaṁ tapo sukho.”
(Dhp 194)

With best wishes, Dana :pray:


Highlighting Bhante’s excellent advice:

It helps a lot when everybody can stay on the topic of the OP. :pray:

Also, I’m moving this thread out of the AV category which is intended for

To the Watercooler where we

(If in doubt a out where to place a new thread, it’s easy to check by consulting the Categories page, accessible from the pulldown menu under the hamburger.)

the connected goodness or connected badness will follow along regardless of the ethics of the entity running the platform. Here is a hideous example that I just encountered: and actually as a result of reading this thread :open_mouth: . I followed this link you provided

I was forewarned by you :pray: so I won’t respond to Ajahn’s position here. I have never been on Odysee before (only just heard the name) and I did not sign up so they can’t possibly know anything about me (right?), but this is what I can report :sob: .

Like YouTube, it runs a list of recommended videos down the righthand column. I went straight to Ajahn’s talk and the suggestions displayed beside it were disgusting. :face_vomiting: They were mainly ones that promoted specific anti-VAX madness that I’ve not even hear of before (eg Luciferese :angry:) and blatant racism :rage: .

I’m a general user of the internet with no IT expertise, and – had I not seen Odysee recommended in this thread I would have concluded that it was an Evil Right Wing Site. Since I have a modicum of wisdom; I used FB sparingly and am happy to report that a high percentage of YT suggests I receive are dhamma talks.


Sigh, I have to agree with you strongly here, @Gillian . Even though we’d all like some alternative to come along to the Youtubes and Facebooks of the world (requiring virtually no effort on our part in the setup, other than new user account creation), whenever one of these comes along, which is a wide-open, poorly-moderated platform, then you are going to see what you just saw on Odysee: a bunch of marginal conspiracy theorists, etc. will congregate there, who got kicked off of Youtube and Facebook. Sadly these appear as suggestions alongside the content you were wanting to see: Ajahn Punnadhammo.

I hold a view, that many geeks commonly share, but non-geeks generally don’t have the experience or subtlety to understand: RSS is the way out of this mess (here’s my RSS feed, BTW). By anyone subscribing to my RSS feed, then my website isn’t just a random isolated website that virtually nobody visits (since everyone, by and large, is looking in popular sites like Youtube and Facebook), but rather my postings earn a place alongside all the other RSS feeds that one subscribes to. My content gains a place at the table of anyone who regularly looks to their RSS feed aggregator app for all their daily news, daily inspiration, or daily content. RSS performs no slimy privacy invasion, displaying of Ads, etc, unlike the Faustian-esque “Subscribe” and “Follow” buttons of all Social Media sites/apps.

Here’s a bunch of posts in a popular geek forum called “Hacker News” calling for a return to RSS:

For example, there are several Buddhist Monasteries who publish RSS feeds right now, (which I subscribe to). Here they are (and you’ll need to copy and paste these links into an RSS feed aggregator app, don’t just click them in your web browser):

@dana, each Buddhist Monastery’s website with a Facebook link, would ideally also publish an RSS feed, allowing one to Subscribe to the news postings, new Dhamma Talks, etc, without having to use Facebook. I suggest requesting an RSS feed of every Buddhist Monastety’s website, which does not have one. RSS can always be added somehow or other, should there be sufficient demand for it. That’s the catch: it needs to be demanded, and furthermore sufficiently used. Content Management Systems like Wordpress and Jekyll include RSS functionality by default, BTW.

RSS is also the way around the flood of Fake News that will get published on all the wide-open, poorly-moderated platforms. Please check out GPT-3. It’s an AI that can generate fake news. Last I heard it was being used to generate something like 4.5 billion words per day. The entire Pali Canon of Buddhism, (the bible of Theravada Buddhism), takes up something like two whole bookshelves, and it only contains something like 6 Million words. Not Billion, with a “B”. When you RSS-subscribe to people with credible backgrounds, who are credible experts in their fields, and the postings come from credible websites where AI hopefully can’t post, that is your decent assurance that it’s not fake news.

In addition to RSS, all my Dhamma Talk Videos postings on my site have been digitally signed (plus a checksum). These are further bulwarks against fake news. Note the little paragraph at the bottom of each of my postings, here’s what it looks like on my latest posting:

Digital Signing and Checksum (of the .mp4 video file above):

No AI can cryptographically forge my GPG signature, without first breaking into my laptop, and stealing both my private GPG key file, and my passphrase. This would be in addition to breaking into my website, to post such forged signatures and checksums.


Thanks, @dana. I agree, Happiness is where it’s at. The whole Social Media situation is a rather grim one, where the ugly side effects are very hard to twist out of, due to the aforementioned Network Effects.

Were you to meet me in real life, I assure you that I’m an a very adequately happy person. :slightly_smiling_face: How enjoyable my meditation practice is in private is something you can’t really see here on this forum. Please don’t mistake any crustiness you see in my posts on these complicated IT-related things to mean that I am categorically like that in real life. Crustiness is an expected thing when you’ve been a Systems Administrator for any length of time.


I agree! I’ve never done anything with RSS. Would it be possible to set it up on our Lokanta website? I wanted top but never figured it out. I know it’s not hard!


My first reaction was that this a very Luddite position, but yes I do see the wisdom in it (just as I appreciate handwoven cloth). Once the feeds are established and users have subscribed this would work well and keep out the unwanted detrius.

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Well, my RSS feed came “for free” (no additional setup) with Jekyll. What Content Management System do you use? Perhaps your CMS already has it, or perhaps an optional extension/Add-On/Plugin for that CMS provides it?

I like your hand-woven cloth analogy, @Gillian .

Yes, there is definitely a “heard it through the grapevine” dynamic to RSS.

As we all know, humanity has done a very good job of discovering and passing around all sorts of juicy recommendations in a “grapevine” sort of way since like forever. I sure hope we don’t lose that to the slimy middlemen of the world who want to be everybody’s grapevine instead.

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Proficiency in Linux be all like the magic wand with the golden orb on the top, which launches ferocious phantom tigers at your computing problems: