Tusky is nonfree

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Welcome…yeah…read: https://gitlab.com/fdroid/fdroiddata/merge_requests/4965 and https://gitlab.com/fdroid/fdroiddata/merge_requests/5006 and add your voice to F-Droid Twitter and Mastodon Accounts


The four freedoms are intended to enable software freedom. They don’t obligate developers to add or remove certain features. GPL is very specific about this:

Apps with “censorship measures” like ad-blockers, anti-feature tagging, parental control filters, etc. can be implemented perfectly compliant with GPL, to me it seems Tusky also is.

I’m sceptic that Tusky authors would consent to us removing said feature in F-Droid builds. Especially since they do not violate any licenses.


Use the librem.one version or fedilab.
Censorship for any reason is wrong.
People can choose to block other people or instances if they so choose. An app shouldn’t be doing it.


I’d like to add to this discussion (and the previous ones) that the Tusky developers chose to hid any mention of “blocking” (redirecting Gab users to a rick roll video) from their changelogs.

I think the F-Droid listing should have a warning, something appended to the description or a changelog entry that states that from version 8.0 or later, the app blocks Gab Social instances.


Thanks for the response. I have a few points to add:

  1. Software freedom is a bigger concept than just a set of licenses. The 4 freedoms are intentionally vague and meant to be interpreted. To give an example, the OSI and FSF have different interpretations of what is and isn’t “free.” Just because they don’t violate the GPL, doesn’t mean they respect the user’s freedoms.
  2. An adblocker can be turned on and off without recompiling the source code. This is a big difference because it means the user is in control. F-Droid is meant to deliver compiled binaries so you don’t have to compile the software yourself. I think saying we can just recompile it with the feature removed defeats the utility of F-Droid for this particular app.

F-Droid has totally removed software from the repo for less, eg the removal of c:geo for having API keys embedded in it. F-Droid is very cautious about what they allow in, an aspect of F-Droid I dearly appreciate. It doesn’t seem out of the question that Tusky would need to be patched, or else be removed.


There are so many freedoms in this world, but sometimes you can’t have them all.

Person A has the freedom to move his arm back and forth.
Person B has the freedom to live.

Now if person A has a knife in their hands and person B is right before them then person B’s freedom trumps person A’s freedom.

Even within Free Software there are freedoms that restrict other freedoms. There is copyleft which restricts your freedom to release an adapted version of the software as you see fit with the purpose of enhancing the freedoms of the people who will use your adapted software.

Blocking people who hate freedom from using your software to harass other people (some of which are also users of your software) enhances your users freedom to feel safe.

Can we keep the discussion around freedom 0 specifically?

You can “run” Tusky in the mechanical sense, but not in the “user” sense. It’s like a vacuum that turns on, but shuts off when you try to vacuum a particular surface. It’s comparable to DRM.

This does not need to be so complicated, philosophical, and nebulous.

Preventing some users from using the software does not enhance the freedom of other users. It’s not ethical to deprive the freedom of some users for political purposes.

I want to clarify something. Gab users can still be seen and interacted with through Tusky. The app does not block Gab users from being seen, it blocks Gab users from logging in. Even if I agreed with the point that you’re arguing, it doesn’t accomplish what you say it does.

I have no issue with individual Mastodon instances blocking Gab. That’s their freedom to do so. But Tusky intentionally blocks certain users from getting past the “log in” screen. This is an app-level block which targets certain users and prevents them from using the app.

Blocking certain domains from logging in is a violation of freedom 0 because it prevents the user from running the program as they wish for any purpose. This is very clearly a politically-motivated attack on user freedom.

In addition, as already pointed out, user-level blocks of domains is already built into Mastodon itself on the server-side. This is further proof that the Tusky’s Gab block is not a “feature.” Such a “feature” already exists:

Tusky is not trying to protect anyone. They are trying to deprive the freedom of some users to use the software. It doesn’t matter whether you politically agree or not.

The thing about freedom is that it works both ways. If you care about freedom for yourself, you must be willing to defend the freedom of people you disagree with. These are the principles software freedom was founded on, and the principles I expect the free software community to uphold.


It looks like Librem Social blocks Gab too.

I opened an issue for it here: https://source.puri.sm/liberty/social/android/issues/4

The code is here: https://source.puri.sm/liberty/social/android/blob/develop/app/src/main/java/com/keylesspalace/tusky/LoginActivity.kt#L155-158


No we can not.
You can’t tell your judge to only keep an eye on your freedom to live free when they are sentencing you for a felony. Only keeping the discussion around freedom 0 makes no sense.

Not necessarily no, but it gives hate-speekers one less tool to spew their hate-speech. If many app developers blocked gab, many gab users wouldn’t be able to post while on mobile, that would mean fewer posts and therefore less harm done to other people in the fediverse.

Taking a stand against hate speech is not a political issue. Just because the far-right spectrum of politics acts unethically doesn’t mean that acting ethically is political.

It doesn’t block any users. Every user can still get an account on another instance and log in with that.
So all this block accomplishes is that the app can’t be used to post unmoderated hate-speech.

Again. How can the freedom to run a software for “any purpose” trump the freedom to not be harassed and threatened?

If I developed free software and someone tried to use that software to blow up the planet would you defend them if I tried to block them from using my software?

Tusky doesn’t block Gab users from being seen - you said that yourself.
Tusky doesn’t block Gab users from creating an account on a different instance and using the app with it.
Tusky doesn’t block people from forking the app without the domain ban.

So how is this an attack?

It’s not a feature because a different feature already exists? Iron clad logic. :clap:

You can read the code of free software, but not the intention behind it.

Nobody can not use the software.

I’m willing to defend a nazi’s freedom as long as that freedom doesn’t harm someone else’s freedom.
I’m willing to defend a canibal’s freedom to eat. I’m not going to defend them if they are trying to eat humans.

I’m a fan of Free Software too, but if upholding it’s principles is more important than ethics then something is going wrong.


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Everyone that’s against Tusky and other apps blocking select instances agrees that the block is ineffective to prevent hate speech from being disseminated through the fediverse. And me personally, I think this blocking just clears a path for app developers to do whatever they want with their app, and wrongfully claiming the app is still free software because “if you don’t like it, you can fork it and thus you keep your 4 freedoms”.

Instance blocks are far more effective. Why? Because ANY message sent from a Gab Social user, for example, won’t reach your members. Get enough mainstream instances to block that instance and you’ll rarely see anything originating from Gab.

Same thing as above. And I already asked countless times to people that support this blocking, if the goal is to prevent hate speech users from using Tusky, then why aren’t the developers adding more instances to the blocklist? Why is it only Gab, coincidentally a non moderated instance (reason, as stated by @alexgleason, that it got filled with nazis) that defends free speech for all? As I asked, why the heck is the instance-wide block enough for, e.g., lolicon (pedophilia) instances, free speech zones and instances that defend violence and restriction of human rights, but not for Gab?

Not even FreeSpeechExtremist had this sort of treatment Gab has, a Mastodon block was enough. So, again, why the hell, suddenly, these blocks are ineffective to prevent Gab from federating? Why did it work for those instances but why won’t it work for Gab?

The ActivityPub protocol was created as an alternative to mainstream social media, where we have no freedom at all and big tech companies control what we see and should post. I don’t want an open source app that promotes privacy and freedom to control what I see or what I can access. I want to be able to choose what I want and what I don’t want to see. I don’t need curation via an app, know why? Because I trust that my instance moderators and admins will block instances that violate my instance’s code of conduct.

PixelFed has implemented a hardcoded ban to Gab, enabled by default, as well. Honestly, I don’t see the fediverse succeeding if app developers (and now software developers) are controlling what should and what shouldn’t be allowed. The fediverse was created with freedom in mind and implementing hardcoded bans just takes away the freedom which it was created for. It makes it no better than the mainstream social networks we all moved from.

You know what’s even funnier? Tusky devs didn’t even mention the rick roll (childish attitude) in their changelog or description. They even tried to fabricate a lie that it was being review bombed on Play Store with 1 star reviews by Gab supporters but it is easily contradicted by the fact that 95% of the current “bad” reviews are due to technical issues, rarely one of them mentions Gab or rickrolling/blocking users from logging in to Gab. It just raises more suspicion about why they chose to block Gab.


Just to come back to the topic. Tusky is not nonfree. What both of you @alexgleason and @Xinayder seem to miss here: The GPL is about the softwares source code. Software doesn’t necessarily mean that you have executable files. Software can also be a bunch of source files provided to the user. Actually that is what RedHat does with RHEL. If you want the files compiled you have to pay them (very simplified speaking).

Whatever the developers do with the software is their decision.

Just to make this clear, if they decide that the software they provide isn’t going to connect to a service, it is their sole decision. It has nothing to do with the GPL let alone the four freedoms it provides. Because these freedoms are not about you, they are about the source code and what you can do with it.

And I don’t think that any further discussion would change the fact that Tusky is free software. Regardless of our opinions on the changes that caused the discussion.


I’ve said this already in the thread but I feel the point has been missed:

Software freedom is more than just a set of licenses.

The version 3.0 of the GPL was created in part to address the issue of Tivoization. Prior to that the “definitive license” was GPLv2. Does that mean Tivo was actually a free system before GPLv3 was published? No. Just because Tivo didn’t violate GPLv2 doesn’t mean it was free software.

The fact that we modify and update the licenses shows how the free software community can identify new problems and address them. Just because a software is GPLv3 licensed does not mean it’s inherently free software. GPLv3 is meant to codify the 4 freedoms in the form of a software license, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

Free software is a set of core principles/values adapted from other human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It’s similar to how “freedom if speech” is a concept that exists in its own right separate from the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. The 1st Amendment just tries to codify it.

I’ve reached out to the FSF to ask what they think. I’ll let you know if they respond.


Tivoization is a whole other beast. That was about software restricted by hardware. Meaning that that you had software that couldn’t be modified because the hardware it ran on restricted it, although the license allowed it. So once again, it was about the software and the possibility to modify it. I don’t think that this comparison fits in here…

But I’d like to hear the FSE’s response. So yes, please keep us updated, thanks.


I think some GNU Manifesto reading is in order… specifically,

“Don’t programmers deserve a reward for their creativity?

If anything deserves a reward, it is social contribution. Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far as society is free to use the results. If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs."

Hardcoding into software restrictions based on a group of users goes against the primary ideals that make FLOSS what it is. License or no license, this is the deliberate restriction of the use of their software by a group of individuals, and is no longer free by definition, for anyone and all to use.

Whether you agree with Gab, it’s users, it’s founder, etc., or not… This is not FOSS and you need to check your head.

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Most of the content that is on gab is illegal in the European Union for historical reasons linked to the suffering in WW2. Gab should perhaps stop thinking that the US is the only, or the most righteous country in the world, and start looking at things a little more objectively.

What does this have to do with the development of FLOSS? By your account, the EU should develop something similar to the great firewall of china, then…

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No they should not, pretending not to understand my point doesn’t look very smart. This is simply the legal reason for the block from mastodon.social, Tusky, and many other places.

This stuff has been illegal here for decades. The blocking of gab.com has nothing to do with violating the principle of free/libre software: it’s code is available and it can be forked/appropriated.

By the way, the whole idea of FLOSS to begin with is a left-wing idea originally. I am sure Stallman and others are no fans of gab.

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