List Censorship as an Anti-Feature

If the app in the F-Droid store censors the users ability to connect to whatever service they are connecting to then it should be listed as an anti-feature under that app in the F-Droid store. This will let people know the app they are using is censoring them.

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Who will scan source code for all apps to find such actions?

Also, I’m not sure it even is an F-Droid issue per se, the app can censor or not as its dev wish, don’t use it if it can’t connect to the services you want.

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Who will scan source code for all apps to find such actions?

The same team that finds the other anti-features. For example, “This app uses a non free network”, “this app has trackers” and other examples of anti-features

Also, I’m not sure it even is an F-Droid issue per se, the app can censor or not as its dev wish

The app developer can censor as they wish but just like any other app in F-Droid, if a developer puts an anti-feature in the app then it gets flagged as having an anti-feature.

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censors the users ability to connect to whatever service they are connecting to then it should be listed as an anti-feature under that app in the F-Droid store.

I know where you’re coming from, and I agree with the concept. However, nothing is simple. How should they treat advert’ blocklists? Or what if there is a toggle? How do you know if an app like DuckDuckGo is pushing your search results one way or another, or even censoring some results on the server side? https://f-droid.org/en/packages/se.johanhil.duckduckgo/

You may have better luck, but probably still nearly none, by opening a gitlab issue and pointing to a particular app, like…Ooooh, Hmmmm… Tusky, which is a clear, known example.

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How should they treat advert’ blocklists?

The point of that app is to block the ads in that case. It is part of the primary goal of the app. Also, I think people would universally agree on why someone would want to block ads without any debate over that. Also, ads are essentially trackers and it is already universally accepted that tracker are considered bad which is why the Aurora Store list the number of trackers in an app. Using your example, Tusky’s primary service is to connect to Mastodon servers. Since it censors out certain servers, it would get this anti-feature label of censorship. Censoring servers is not its primary function.

Or what if there is a toggle?

It depends on what is being toggled but technically, if you can toggle off any blocking then the app would allow you to see content uncensored. Thus it is no longer censoring anymore. It would be a good idea to have toggle defaults set to no censoring and let people to chose to turn them on.

How do you know if an app like DuckDuckGo is pushing your search results one way or another, or even censoring some results on the server side?

There is an entire Pandora’s Box involved in rating the service itself which is why I said if the app is doing it. F-droid would only create this rating off the app itself. Does the physical app censor it or does it not? The service itself censoring would not be part of the discussion. This makes it easier to rate since you can’t see server side code anyway. For example, we know Facebook does massive levels of censorship. An app that connects to Facebook with no censorship would not have this anti-feature label because it allows you to connect to Facebook unobstructed. It is only when the app tries to stop you like in Tusky’s case would the anti-feature label “censorship” be applied.

The point of that app is to block the ads

If I decided to go nuts and go commercial, I might wish to point my browser at some advert-related sites, and then consider that blocking to be censorship. I use one browser with (toggle-able) block lists. Others may be built-in, IDK. The lists are very long. They may not be only ad or tracking sites…

Can you name one or five other apps that should get a censorship anti-feature tag? If not, this may be much ado over not much.

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You misunderstood. I said that for someone installing an app for the explicit purpose of blocking ads; they can always choose to not install that app if they don’t want that purpose to be done. That is very different then someone installing an app for the purpose of connecting to a site. Then not being able to connect because the app is blocking them from some of the sites.

You didn’t answer:

Can you name one or five other apps that should get a censorship anti-feature tag? If not, this may be much ado over not much.

I have not looked through every single app on Fdroid but it is important to list anti-features like censorship when they show up. Even if they don’t show up that often. Tusky is one example I know about. Since social media tends to have this type of problem then you can start your search in places like Librem Social, Husky and Fedilab to see if they also implemented censorship in the app itself.

You can start your search; the burden should be on the accuser.

There is no accuser. All I said is that the team that checks apps for other anti-features should also check for censorship and list that as an anti-feature when found.

the team … should also check for censorship

The team is mostly unpaid volunteers who could use more help.

The team supports the status quo, it appears.

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Arguably, this is a more important anti-feature to keep track of. When someone suggested to track “This app promotes a non free network,” was the first comment that the team of unpaid volunteers is to busy to even consider this? If nothing else, at least label the obvious cases when found. It is well known Tusky partakes in massive amounts of censorship in the app itself. There has been quite a lot of servers censored by Tusky. The Fdroid development team likely has knowledgeable people that know far more apps then I do that partake in this.

non free network

No one is happy with the non-free network tags, and they haven’t been able to agree on what it should mean, for years.

There has been quite a lot of servers censored by Tusky.

Evidence? I know of 2: gab and spinster.

FYI, Federation being “uncensored” or more free because of decentralization is BS. They all (or many) block. Tusky app RickRolls gab and spinster sites. Spinster site blocks selected servers for spam, privacy or porn issues (in their judgment; see their about). Toot dot cafe has a long list of blocked instances (see their about / more)…

“Buyer beware” applies, as always. Test the app. If it doesn’t work for you, uninstall. If you think it’s all an outrage, go toot, tweet or blog about it as much as you want. Others already have.

PS. I boycott Tusky because: they rickroll, which is childish, and they develop on Microsoft’s github. At least they say they “block” domains like gab, in their faq. OTOH, they claim it is not censorship, which is mostly not true.

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Evidence? I know of 2: gab and spinster.

The main instance has a ban list you can look at which they put into the Tusky app.

FYI, Federation being “uncensored” or more free because of decentralization is BS. They all (or many) block. Tusky app RickRolls gab and spinster sites. Spinster site blocks selected servers for spam, privacy or porn issues (in their judgment; see their about). Toot dot cafe has a long list of blocked instances (see their about / more)…

Fdroid is not involved in the censorship done but the servers. They are only concerned with the apps in the Fdroid database. Only if the app itself censors should Fdroid put the censorship anti-feature label on the app. There is no point in getting involved in the drama of other people’s projects.

Lots of love for the F-Droid team :heart::heart::heart:!!! Seems like apparently they don’t want to do this (@Licaon_Kter already commented, and other contributors have probably read this and decided not to jump in).

So I think we should respect this decision to not make their valuable work more difficult :heart: (nobody was unrespectful here, but I remember that in the past the F-Droid team had a pretty hard time once because people from both sides really wanted them to do things in a particular way, so that’s rather a preventive love-to-the-team-and-please-be-kind-post)

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I seriously doubt they are active enough to have made a decision. As was mentioned, they are volunteers so they have limited time.

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There is a reason “Let the buyer beware” was dropped in real life. They don’t expect the average consumer buying food to figure out what ingredients are in their food. It is clearly labeled because of the enormous time and expertise needed to figure out such information. Most people that should be using Fdroid do not have the technical skills needed for “Let the buyer beware” and they most certainly don’t have the time to check out every single line of code of every single program. It is the entire reason for even having the anti-feature category at all. If you were going to just let the buyer beware then there is no need for the category. In projects like the Aurora Store, it is realized that you just can’t do that. They tell you how many trackers are in the code instead of just expecting every single user with no technical background to figure it out themself. The same for the anti-feature category as a whole. Instead of having every single non technical user just figure it out, it warns of things that would be important.

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Buyer beware

Caveat emptor… is a classic that prudent, independent, intelligent people will always apply.

A better argument against it, here, is no sale or purchase of apps on F-Droid, and no consideration exchanged in a transaction. “Don’t hold me responsible for anything due to this software” disclaimers abound.

I seriously doubt they are active enough to have made a decision. As was mentioned, they are volunteers so they have limited time.

Then you may be surprised by the amount in the activity report. https://gitlab.com/groups/fdroid/-/activity (even ignoring bot activity). And that doesn’t include other projects each human is involved with, or show how much time it took to consider and prepare each action.