Purism’s Librem One services

tl;dr: Purism has failed to follow their anti-harassment policy. Avoid their matrix channels to avoid being a target of alt-right abuse, and use public services who offer basic moderation.

Basically speaking, Purism‘s Librem One services are a set of very useful privacy-oriented services which, for a quite reasonable fee, can shield your online activities from the eyes of your fellow netizens and, perhaps, from more authority-empowered groups and organizations. And, they say, so long as you do not harass anyone you are good to go.

What does it mean when they say “will not tolerate of any kind”?

Apparently it means they absolutely will tolerate harassment if you are a member of a group, such as homosexuals, Muslims or Jews,  or immigrants. Users with One accounts have been allowed to say “…Islam and Judaism, which in their books say to enslave, child/rape and kill non-Muslim or non-Jews (goyim) that’s ok…” apparently on the assumption that no individual was targeted.

No, an entire class of people was targeted, a class which had representatives in that channel. They were harassed, individually, due their membership.

#Purism has stated they will not institute any form of  moderation, but will instead focus on making it easy for users to block/mute abusive persons. This appears to me to be exceptionally hypocritical.

PureBrowser, the Purism flavor of FireFox browser, implements ad blocking with uBlock Origin. The method this adblocker employs is moderation based on user-selected (and with sane defaults) lists of IPs, domains, and scripts to block. This is exactly the same kind of list as is used within and to block particularly noisome/noxious instances. So it is okay to use it in the browser, but not in the social media software.

Furthermore, users do not have the option of pre-emptively blocking users from known sources of abuse with block lists. They must be bothered and/or offended before they can take what is a wholly inadequate action. In one short period more than a half-dozen newly-created free Librem One accounts followed the exact same script of making a single toot and following at least one person on mastodon, then join the Librem One General Chat room. They may have all been a single user creating multiple accounts, or they may have been a group coordinating for action.

And if that action had been to target a user, that person would have had to work through each of the assailants individually, giving them even more time to abuse them.

But even after the offenders are muted, a user can be harmed, defamed, and libeled by them. Because not everyone else in the channel will have muted them. If someone is saying I am a serial rapist, and I cannot see what they say, but everyone else can, I am harmed.

Purism’s focus on privacy at the cost of all else, including security, means they are, fully predictably, actively enabling people whose goal is harming others.

The services offered under Librem One are each and all available free of charge: you do not need to pay a subscription fee to do the same things for yourself. You can run an instance of Mastodon and Matrix, you can set up a VPN either at home or on a VPS somewhere (or, of course, you could pay for a subscription directly from Private Internet Access without Purism as your man-in-the-middle.) Any reasonably secure e-mail server can be used e2ee. Check out FLOSS projects like Yunohost, Freedombox for quick, secure drop-in replacements for these and many more that you can host yourself.

And if you do not think you can do that, use some of the other options. JoinMastodon.org can help you find moderated instances. Use matrix.org directly – most clients default to creating a new account for you there. Check your router – many have a built-in VPN server already. Most domain registrars include an e-mail address  with your annual fee, and combined with GPG you have the same thing as Purism is offering.

Because you are getting less on Librem One than if you self-hosted; at least you would be able to pre-emptively moderate known bad actors.