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

I have no idea how to answer that question other than to assure you they aren’t on my Mattermost server. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Well, I was sort of hoping we could liberate Theravada Buddhism from the gnashing, gaping maw of GAFAM.

If you’re looking for a software job, the usual acronym is FAANG.

N for Netflix

Curiously Netflix hires only senior developers. No graduates or juniors. This medium article describes what they do:

I’d say that’s impossible to replicate as an open source project.

However, the absolute minimum is this:

Agreed, impossible.

Note: I do Tai Chi while watching a Tai Chi video played in VLC on a Raspberry Pi, hooked up to an old monitor. That’s my “poor-man’s Netflix”.

Sorry for my noobness, is

FAANG = Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google ?

What’s GAFAM? Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft?

Why need to escape from them?

Is this forum already the non-evil platform to post on?


Thanks everyone for contributing to this thread. I’m no Techie, but I do try to stay away from google etc as much as possible.
Unless I missed it, I am surpised that telegram hasn’t been mentioned as an alternative to whatsapp. I haven’t done any recent research to see how evil it may be, maybe somebody has some thoughts?
I know telegram has been promoted as evil in mainstream media and some governments have tried to ban it, because of its lack of censorship. I know somebody who is obsessed with telegram and the conspiracy groups etc on there, but using it purely as a messaging app like whatsapp is fantastic. There is no advertising pushing people to join any conspiracy theorist groups etc.
I am in a ‘Buddhist Events Announcements’ group there, which I really enjoy. Otherwise I haven’t found any buddhist groups that have really grabbed me. It maybe have been through that group that I first learnt about Lokantavihara.
Previously I was on Facebook and used Whatsapp, but haven’t been there for a while and don’t miss them at all.
It is easier to say no than people want to believe.
I have installed /e/ OS on my phone -
I believe that that reduces my interaction with google etc.
When somebody says they need a google account to access the play store, an alternative to that is using the Aurora Store. It accesses the play store anonymously. I haven’t deleted my gmail account, but I haven’t used it in months.
To continue using Youtube hopefully with some anonymity, on my phone I use NewPipe, and on a laptop various instances of invidious - Invidious
I do feel that my using NewPipe / Invidious / Aurora I am breaking the precept of not stealing, because I am taking data from google without exchanging my personal data. Hmmm. Does anyone have any comforting words there? :slight_smile:
An alternative app store with more privacy friendly apps is fdroid. I get my apps from there whenever possible but it is limited.
An alternative to Google Maps is OsmAnd~ , available for android at least.
And on my (android /e/ ) phone I then have TrackerControl installed, which helps to give an indication of what data may be being sent to google etc from what apps.
Often I think I can’t live without a particular app that sends a lot of info to google, but it turns out to be much easier than one thinks.
The thing I miss google most for is reviews of businesses that I don’t know and want to do online business with. But of course it is better to be doing things in person anyway, being involved in a real life community rather than trying to live some online virtual life.
Finally, I bought my phone almost two years ago and I often think about how nice it would be if it is my last smartphone ever :slight_smile: On my laptop I mostly use Xubuntu, but started with regular Ubuntu and will never go back to Windows as my main OS.
I hope all of my rambling here is somewhat relevant and of some value.


UNESCO “Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women” - isn’t that great?

It seems to me UNESCO is trying to eliminate or at least reduce the misuse of Internet and www, by transforming the current social media platforms through global education - that is what I believe in too.



I appreciate your links… thanks for posting them.

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In my latest Dhamma talk, I thanked and praised the bravery of the Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen, for standing up for what she believed in, and fighting the good fight, as it were:

Also, thanks for your Dhamma question (about the brain in the vat), @jimbo_the_skeptic


Bhante, if we are to discourage people from using Facebook, why is then BSWA on their homepage inviting people to follow them on Facebook? Can you please explain?


I think that education is certainly going to be a large part of the solution, but the more I read, the more I am beginning to understand that these large centralised systems with their hidden algorithms that seem to be designed to put profits above the mental wellbeing of their users are inherently dangerous to us all.

It would be lovely for some of the larger, better funded monasteries and Buddhist organisations to provide safer, decentralised, transparent options for us all to use instead. Ones that drive users away from the harmful and towards the wholesome; putting the mental wellbeing of users above all other considerations. I think that we are maybe at the start of this dialogue?


This project has been around for over 10 years:

Obviously not taking the world by storm, but you might want to spin it up and have a look.

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Indeed, I think this would be a great choice.

They could even do basic sharing on FB (if they had to), but inviting people to Discourse for ongoing conversation. That way you’d be drawing people from FB rather than to it.

Excellent, thanks. I’m happy to help them if need be. Also note that on the recent series with nan Tien that I have been a part of (organized by Tom and Ling with Ven Jue Wei), there was a student at U Wolloongong who was presenting on this very topic. He’s probably be a good contact for ideas.

The main point I would make is that we should consider the “medium is the message” when acting in the digital realm. It’s not just what we say, but the manner and means through which we say it. It’s not about being pure and perfect, it’s about trying to be a bit better.

It’s hard, I’m sorry to hear that.


But “believe in” and “actively encourage” are two quite different things. Inside Fox, they’re all vaccinated. The anti-vax stuff is just for the rubes.

Hey JR! Me too, FF is cool these days. I don’t think the Servo thing got dropped 100%, some of it was integrated into FF. But yeah, they’ve let the focus drift, to be sure. But on the whole I think FF is better than it’s ever been. There are a few esoteric APIs that are not implemented, but generally it’s great. Better privacy to be sure. Add ublock and privacy badger and the web is usable again.

That’s right.

I guess?

Well too much to go into here, but basically because they are monopolistic corporations that have too much power and have frequently shown a willingness to use that power in harmful ways, by exploiting workers (Amazon), invading privacy (FB, Google), crushing smaller businesses (all of them starting with Microsoft); and in worst-case scenarios, boosting anti-reality discourse to the extent of spreading pandemic and overthrowing democracies (Facebook).

It is! No ads, no tracking, no privacy invading, open-source software, no crime, no crypto, no bullies (thanks mods!).

cool, I didn’t know it was usable yet. My phone is kind of blowing up, so I’m looking for a new one.

Thanks for the message, it’s really good to hear of people making an effort.

You’re fine, there’s no problem with using open source stuff. Google has plenty of data.

Incidentally, it’s possible to go into your Google account and turn off data collection. Do it!

More generally, “copying” is not “stealing”. To steal, as it is understood in Buddhism, you have to deprive someone of something. If you both have it, it’s not stealing.

When creating copyright law, they pushed this idea that copying is stealing, but it’s really a linguistic sleight of hand, a rhetorical flourish. Obviously there are cases where copying is wrong, and sometimes it should be illegal, but it’s not the same as stealing, and the two should not be confused.

Nice, thanks for the link!

Thanks, yes, there is always a cost to speaking out. Add to the list Janneke Parrish at Apple, a trans worker at Netflix, and AI ethics researchers Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell at Google, who have all been fired for telling the truth.

Lol, I guess most people don’t really know or care. I dunno, I’ve been talking about these things for years, and mostly people just don’t want to hear? Which is why I’m happy to see you taking it seriously.


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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