How To Keep Your Online Browsing Unfiltered By Political Propaganda

How To Keep Your Online Browsing Unfiltered By Political Propaganda

By pushing so hard against half of the country, tech companies may have shown an Achilles heel, allowing freedom-centric competitors to get their feet in the door.
Jon Del Arroz
By

The Big Tech giants of Silicon Valley have overreached in pushing far-left positions, sending a message to conservatives: you’re not welcome. It became patently obvious yet again last week when executives from Google parent company Alphabet essentially said conservative viewpoints are illegitimate.

Alarms first sounded for conservatives when Mozilla, creators of the Firefox browser, fired their CEO over his financial support of California’s Proposition 8—a referendum against recognizing gay marriage that a majority of Californian voters passed.

Silicon Valley went full tilt in 2016, when several Big Tech CEOs and board members called a closed-door meeting to strategize on how to keep Donald Trump from reaching the White House. Silicon Valley’s leadership went further in March of this year, when several prominent industry members, including the co-founders of Facebook and Twitter, signed an anti-Trump open letter that has circulated around the Internet.

Even Our Apps and Browsers Are Politicized

Beyond the political activities of the Big Tech elite, conservative users have dealt with increasing frustration of the politicizing of the products they use. Most browsers and apps track and mine users’ personal information, creating a crisis for those who are privacy-minded. The invasiveness of these giant corporations is borderline criminal, and with the increasing frequency and intensity of cyberattacks, millions of customers have found their information isn’t safe. Standard reference sites like Wikipedia have also seen a slow decline in their objectivity on information, with any hot-button issue edited with a hard-left slant.

Those nuisances may have been tolerable if not for the Left’s overreach in social media. These sites have created moderation policies with double-standards toward conservatives, while those on the Left get a free pass to say anything they want, even libelous accusations or calls to violence. Twitter has been the most notorious for banning anyone with what they consider wrong ideas, most famously with columnist and provocateur Milo Yiannopolis, but also in their bans of prominent Trump supporters Ricky Vaughn and Pizza Party Ben.

Facebook joined Twitter in censorship by putting forth initiatives to combat what they called fake news, and began implementing a fake news detector funded by the notorious left-wing election meddler George Soros. Reddit recently banned two of its moderators on its pro-Trump sub-forum, “/The_Donald” and closed down the board for a time.

The Left’s Big Tech corporations have had near-monopolies in their respective services for a long time, with competitors unable to gain traction simply because of the overwhelming amount of users who had already settled into these services. But by pushing so hard against the values of half of the country, these companies may have shown an Achilles heel, allowing for a number of freedom-centric competitors to get their feet in the door.

How To Browse the Internet and Maintain Privacy

Founded by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, Brave is the first browser created with the user in mind instead of what data can be mined from its customers. Like most modern browsers, it blocks ads, but it also stops trackers from getting data from what you browse. It’s made to streamline websites so they load faster, and even keeps a running tally of all of the ads and trackers that it’s removed.

Brave also offers Brave Payments, in which a user can allocate donations to favorite websites. This solves the problem of the ad revenue sites lose because of ad blockers, while giving more agency to the end user over viewing experience. While the Brave Payments system requires a web publisher to sign up with Brave, it is a good concept for how the web could work without ads. Moreover, with Brave’s CEO’s past, one can safely bet they treat their employees better than their competitors do in allowing them to express their politics outside of work. Find Brave here.

While on Brave, privacy-minded users may wish to browse the web without censorship or tracking from another source. Google has been the primary search engine for most of the world for more than a decade, but they are also known for manipulating their data and using information gleaned from searches to track and advertise to users. The search engine DuckDuckGo doesn’t pre-sort data with a personalized filter bubble—Google’s spin term for its data mining. Instead, every user will get the same results on a topic, generated from 400 individual sources and displayed by the most-trafficked results.

The searches take some getting used to, but after a few times of adjusting to be more specific, DuckDuckGo provides unbiased information, without storing your user profile in their database.

Where Can Users Get Unbiased Reference Information?

Infogalactic launched as an alternative to Wikipedia during the height of the toxic political climate of 2016. Wikipedia moderators at the time began deleting information that could paint conservatives positively, and replaced those articles with information from editorials with notorious left-wing biases. Vox Day, founder of Infogalactic, said these problems stemmed back to Wikipedia’s beginning.

When asked what he thought triggered the company’s censorship, Vox said, “anything ideologically or politically controversial. The 538 thought police, or ‘active admins’ as they are called, are hard core SJWs deeply committed to policing the Wikipedia content. For example, three of them squat on the page about me and will respond within minutes to remove anything they deem excessively positive.”

I found similar results across the Wikipedia pages of prominent right-wing voices. So what does Infogalactic do differently? “We are designing a very different system that allows the user, rather than the admin, to determine which version of the page he sees,” Vox said. “Our perspective filters will render the power of the admin entirely irrelevant with regards to content; we are utilizing a horizontal model rather than a vertical one. So, there is no reason whatsoever to engage in edit wars. It’s not applicable.”

The perspective filter is where Infogalactic shines as an innovative concept, allowing a user to determine what content he or she would like to see. The user can choose the liberal view on a topic, a conservative one, or even a variety of other factors. This gives users more agency about the information they receive. Infogalactic will have three different filters each with ten different sub-settings to allow robust user customization.

This provides much more freedom regarding the information that can be posted on a topic, and for readers, who can choose how to see the world, including how their opposition views their topics of interest. The end result, Vox says, “is more neutral, more objective, and more accurate.” All of Wikipedia’s current database has been uploaded to Infogalactic, and its hardworking volunteers have added what Vox approximates to be 1 percent of new content to its information databases.

The Brave browser has a built-in setting to allow users to switch default searches to Infogalactic, and will automatically search Infogalactic if a user types :i into the URL bar with his search. Other browsers have extensions that automatically switch Wikipedia searches to the Infogalactic page.

Where Can Users Find Free And Open Social Media?

The mantra of Gab.ai since its opening day has been #SpeakFreely. CEO Andrew Torba saw the many controversial bannings of vocal Trump supporters across Twitter, how left-leaning pundits could get away with saying far worse than their right-wing counterparts, and finally said enough is enough. Torba wanted to experience social media without censoring from the other networks, and the only way he saw to do that was to create his own platform.

Gab.ai was formed in 2016 with few features. It had an upvote system to posts, similar to Reddit, and hashtags that trend, similar to Twitter, but with a simple interface. The people on the site come across as friendlier, and more excited to follow and interact with new users than I’ve seen on Twitter or Facebook.

Torba wanted to experience social media without censoring from the other networks, and the only way he saw to do that was to create his own platform.

The site’s population has a right-wing slant, which the company embraces in their marketing. That said, they’re open to free speech of all kinds. In a recent post, Torba personally thanked a self-professed Trump-hater for coming onto the site and participating in the discussions.

Over time, Gab’s added a lot of new features. It recently added the ability to post pictures, and the voting system now has up or down votes that track separately so one can see both positive and negative reactions to comments. There are no bannings or blockings for sensitive content, but users can mute words and other people. The only bans so far have been sparse, and enacted for real threats of violence. It’s a true free-speech atmosphere.

Utsav Sanduja, Gab’s spokesman, said “Facebook, Twitter and Reddit are taking the path of censorship—Gab does not. This alone sets us apart from Big Social. The aforementioned platforms also rely on advertising revenues for their core business model, a concept that is proving to be futile in an environment of ad blockers on both mobile and desktop web.”

By contrast, Gab’s business model relies on donations from users and subscription to the Pro service, which allows users to place those they follow into different customizable lists, and to start chat rooms on topics they desire. “Expect to see more updates to Gab chats, more features for Gab Pro members, greater involvement for users on Gab TV,” Utsav said. Gab TV is their answer to Periscope, which allows users to broadcast live video, and is still in beta testing.

Overall, Gab provides a wonderful social network experience with more than 170,000 current users who have written more than eight million posts so far. In recent weeks, Gab opened the platform to the public, coming out of their invite-only beta testing stage. An app is available on Android, and they hope to be on the Apple IOS soon.

Jon Del Arroz is the author of the Alliance Award nominated and top-10 Amazon bestselling Space Opera, "Star Realms: Rescue Run." His second novel, "For Steam And Country," is just out. He hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, is a guest contributor to the Hugo Award-nominated Castalia House blog, and regularly posts to http://delarroz.com. Twitter: @jondelarroz Gab.ai: @otomo

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