Should I moderate videos.trom.tf?

Should I moderate videos.trom.tf?

I’ve been debating in my head, and discussing with others, about moderating videos.trom.tf.

And here are the difficulties I am confronting with:

1. I hate censorship

I moved away from Youtube and Facebook, not only because they are ad-networks and data-collectors (awful platforms to grow your project ‘inside of’, or to use for personal motives), but also because they have removed/censored some of our TROM content. We are not even talking about conspiracies here, but simply nudity, copyright, or “hate speech” and the like. And if you know TROM, we do not make porn 🙂 (as if that’s so bad in the first place), nor do we instill violence. We make educational content, and at times we talk about sexuality, or touchy subjects. But we always source our claims and we do so via scientific and well know sources, nothing shady at all. Like Wikipedia level, wtf. As for the copyrighted content, yes, we have used in the past such materials to create videos, but we make no profit out of anything, it is simply for educational purposes and we source the materials we use as much as we can.

So our videos have been removed several times, and our Facebook account banned for up to 1 month. You have to understand that Facebook banned me for like posting an image with text from Wikipedia explaining what viruses are and how they infect us. 100% scientific. That’s the level of censorship we experienced. Ridiculous and wrong.

2. We have limited server disk space

So now we moved to Peertube and Friendica, alternatives to Youtube and Facebook. At first I used some instances I found and I was still not 100% comfortable with that, since these instances were also moderated and I was concerned they may ban us in the future. Like wtf is so bad about nudity that everyone bans it? I find it a lot more harmful when people post positively about cryptocurrencies since these currencies, along with any other, create a lot of harm. And is not like we post nudity a lot – it is rare and only if we talk about human behavior. But it may be enough for these instances to ban us. So I created my (our) own instances.

Now I feel 100% comfortable that no one can ban/censor our content.

I said I am going to let anyone post anything on these instances, because I do not want to become like the ones I hated when I was using their platforms. And so these instances of ours fit very well under our trade-free initiative/idea. We did it! But….

Creating a video platform requires a powerful server and a fuck ton of disk space. I didn’t want to limit the upload quota because I know from experience that this is going to make people not use it. I mean….if I make videos and your instance only allows me to upload 5GB, or even 50GB….I cannot think to seriously use it since I have a limited quota and when I reach the quota what happens? This is not at all appealing.

We have a very good server but not as much disk space. We have a 1.6TB SSD. It is already 50% full after just a few months of the release. We have a lot of services on that instance, see trom.tf. Out of the 800GB that are full, some 600GB are due to Peertube videos. So Peertube is the greatest offender.

Luckily Peertube developers are working now to make it much easier to add an external storage to your instance, and when that is released we could buy a lot more storage. From my calculations some 2TB for like 10 Euros a month. That’d be fantastic and this way we can always expand the storage space at a cost. But it will take time for them to properly implement it (months), and time for us to set it up and test, and then move all of the files there. Plus….I am broke so….

Therefore, storage space is a BIG problem.

3. We are the trashcan of Youtube and Facebook

Even if I could expand the storage space now, at 0 costs, the problem is that we have become the trashcan of these big platforms. The vast majority of people who use these alternative platforms, from what I can tell, are not people like us who got a few videos/posts censored out of thousands, and censored for very questionable reasons; No! The people who come to these alternative platforms are not using them because they had enough of this ad-driven, data-collection BS that Facebook and Google is doing; No! The vast majority of people who come to these platforms are the craziest of the craziest. The ones that post about things that are unreal and create harm. Like the ones who deny the existence of reality basically. Those who are against vaccines, say the earth is flat, accuse others of drinking the blood of children, and a vomit overall of politics, conspiracies, and trolling. At times you see people coming to Peertube who got booted out of these platforms because they were uploading a lot of copyrighted materials, such as movies and series.

Unfortunately this is the situation right now. Most of the videos posted on our Peertube are either batshit-crazy videos, or copyrighted movies/series. So, do these people “care” about a censorship-free platform, or are they simply taking advantage of such a platform to spread their BS? Also, what if someone makes a website called “freemoviesforeveryone dot something” and uploads a ton of movies on our platform, to then embed them into their website to attract views? And their website is full of ads and scams, and they make money on the backs of our instance!? Is that ok?

Therefore, if the absolutely vast majority of content on our Peertube is batshit-crazy or stupid copyrighted movies, and overall I get the impression that we are used like a cheap prostitute while we pay for that, how can I be motivated to expand the storage space and keep this instance alive? You tell me!

I spent all of my life promoting science and sanity. Everything we do is so well sourced to the point of bleeding. I have created a website that curates very well made science documentaries/courses, or investigative-journalistic ones; another website that does the same for news/videos; and overall I am trying to be a sort of Carl Sagan or James Randi, or both, of the internet content. Should I now become a vessel for idiocracy!? All of the work I’ve put into creating and curating scientific and sane content, to be counteracted by our Peertube instance!?

4. Your content, my responsibility

So, even if we had infinite storage space, and I would not care about what users upload, the truth is that in today’s world I may be held accountable for the content you upload on MY server, for which I pay with MY OWN money and using MY OWN credentials. On top of that, I make local backups so if you upload some “illegal” videos, I then end up storing them on my own hard drives….

Think about this: someone will upload bunch of videos with little children being raped. They are now stored on my server and on my local hard drive. Should I honestly allow that to happen and risk it? Risking it and fighting for a Peertube instance that is full of crazy nonsense videos? Nah…. I honestly do not see it worth it.

So your content is, unfortunately, my responsibility regardless if I want it or not. This society won’t accept me saying “The content is the responsibility of the users.”. I wish this was the case, and I still argue strongly that the content is the responsibility of the user, but please understand that I subject myself to a plethora of adverse effects if I allow absolutely anything on the platform.

5. Your content, everyone’s responsibility

Lets say we have enough disk space, I do not care about what users upload, and I accept the legal risks associated with all of that. Even in such a scenario, our Peertube instance will become an isolated island.

Peertube federates with other Peertube instances in order to find more videos. But instance admins can block the federation with any instances they prefer. When you upload videos on our instance, these videos are likely to show up on other instances (not hosted there, but accessible there). Therefore, the admins of other instances will see that and eventually block our black-hole instance that’s fully of crappy videos. So, in the best case scenario we will become an island instance, something I really do not want to. Imagine that….to risk it and pay for an island full of crazy people. WTF….


So what should I do?

In my mind it boils down to only 2 main approaches: to moderate, or not.

To not moderate.

If I will go about not moderating AT ALL, then I have to consider the above points very seriously. So:

Limit the upload quota: I will have to limit the upload quota for all users, since our storage is getting filled up pretty quickly. And by limiting I mean some 5GB per user. This will make our instance very unappealing for those who are serious about creating video content. Also, I bet that crazy people will create hundreds of accounts to be able to upload more. So 1 crazy user can create multiple accounts and upload a lot of crap.

Moderation will be forced upon us: I will have to accept the risk that “Illegal” content or harmful, will be stored on my server and my local hard drives. This will create a lot of stress for me + eventually we will get into troubles forcing me to remove some of this content. So we will end up with moderation after all. Even 4chan or 8chan, websites that are known to host a fuck ton of crazy content (not even videos, just text and images mind you…) are moderating their black-holes of vomit-like-content. They were forced to. They then got banned from many tribes, and such. It is not an easy task to have such platforms. Especially a video platform.

We will become a silo of nonsense content: and this does not sit well with me. I do not feel motivated to fight for videos.trom.tf when I know it is 90% crazy people posting nonsense content.

To moderate.

If I am to moderate, then where will I stop with this? And how much work will it put on me?

Look, I really, REALLY, REALLY do not want to moderate such platforms. For one it defeats the purpose of them in the first place and the trade-free idea cannot be tagged to such a project. Second, moderating the content means that you accept the responsibility for it, and thus I feel like it makes me even more responsible for the content that users upload. Suddenly I am not a phone-line that connects people and sends data from one part to another, I am the host of a party in my own house and responsible for everything that anyone does inside my house. And this is not the role I want!

So I am concerned that moderating means that I accept the responsibility for the content uploaded on our Peertube, and this I strongly REJECT; and second it will transform me and the platform into a Youtube/Facebook like platform from this perspective. I will be biased in what I let or not on our platform, and it will give me more power over the content, which is BAD.

Let me give you some concrete examples. Lets say that I accept to moderate and I start removing the batshit-crazy channels with their videos. What is batshit-crazy? Canon? I’ll say it is for sure! Flat earthers! Yup. Humans being abused/killed? I’d say so, although what about documentaries/videos documenting such cases with good intentions!? Now things become muddy….what about hours-long podcasts that talk about crimes? Should I listen to them all and decide if they should be removed!? This is insane! How about videos talking positively about our very harmful trade-based society (form money, economy, to cryptocurrencies)? Should I let that on the platform? Form my perspective, no! Religion? That’s surely batshit-crazy. Where do I stop? I would also have to not accept any videos in foreign languages, only English. Because I cannot vet Chinese videos or whatever other language.

IT. IS. COMPLICATED.

It is also concerning that if I start to moderate our Peertube, then I will create a precedent and maybe when we get invaded by crazy people on our Friendica, I will start moderate Friendica too….and this is quite unacceptable to me.

If you came here for an answer, I have none at the moment. We have created a poll to ask users about this dilemma. Please vote/comment there. We are also making 3-4 TROMcast episodes about this topic so that I can try and find an answer. First one we already released:

In 2 days we will have an interesting discussion with Sophia Moskalenko, an expert on radicalization and someone who is currently studying Qanon (Canon 🙂 ). I want to learn more from her about what drives these people and how can we approach this weird situation we are in. Then, in a few days we will have another discussion with some other admins of such instances and the developers behind Friendica, to ask them about this topic. What are their thoughts….

In an ideal world, it should not be me acting as the phone-line between you and you. So we should not have servers. We should broadcast our thoughts (via text, images, video, audio) directly to others from our devices. This is already happening with platforms like Scuttlebutt. It means that if I want to talk about whatever I want, and you want to listen to what I say, there should be a direct connection between us and no one in the middle. And if I think that what you say is batshit-crazy then I will simply not follow you and also block you so you can’t ever reach me. But no one has power to ban you from others. So then you don’t have a handful of people telling you what you are allowed to share or not, since everyone becomes their own personal moderators, stopping the content they do not want to see, from reaching their faces and ears.

With fast Internet connections nowadays, every computer can act as a server and even if you share a huge video, people should be able to stream it anywhere in the world. Considering that your devices are pretty much connected to the internet pipeline all the time, then your “server” is up and running all the time, available to send any request to anyone who is asking for that. And the connection between you and whoever wants to see your content should be encrypted. This way you can create your own unique place where you broadcast your thoughts and only those who want to listen, will listen. And the rest can simply choose not to listen…Simple!

These technologies are still in beta but I think this is the future, for better or for worse. But the same way that people argue that encryption is necessary despite the fact that some idiots use encryption to secretly plot terrorist attacks, I argue that directly broadcasting messages in any media form, to the ones who want to listen, should be a MUST despite the fact that many idiots like Canons would use these platforms to spread bullshit.

We have to go from:

YOU ———–> ME ——–> THEM

to

YOU ————————-> THEM


UPDATE 1:

After I finished the post I thought about a great analogy. We, the ones running these small instances, are like Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and the like when it comes to waste disposal. You know that rich tribes send most of their waste to these poor tribes, right!?

The idea of banning and censoring people online, is as good as that of shipping your country’s waste to Thailand, China or other poorer countries. Sure, you’ll say: “But look how clean US or Germany are….” Of course! Because you shipped all that waste to poor countries that are full of garbage. That’s how pretty much all websites do it nowadays. They ban many people, and these people end up on “alternative” social platforms that have to deal with this garbage and they do not have the resources of doing it.

And guess what happens? Thailand, Indonesia or other countries become a source of pollution: water, air, soil. And they dispose the waste into the oceans. And then US and other rich countries realize that the air is polluted, the water is, and so forth. Same thing happens online where these marginalized (banned) humans grow in numbers in these “alternative” places where they bake all kinds of crazy conspiracies, and these crazy ideas then end up again on the same social platforms that booted them.

The circle of “life”. Because much in the same way that waste is not a US or Germany problem, but a global problem that needs a global solution, online conspiracy theories are not a Facebook or Google problem, they are global internet problems. And both cannot be solved if we move the trash from one place to another, just to keep our backyard clean. The same garbage will become worse and bite you in the ass eventually.

So keep these in mind. Humans should take the time to understand these problems and deal with them. But who has time when everyone is busy trading trading trading. That’s all they know. More stuff, more stuff, more stuff. We are doomed!

UPDATE 2:

Unfortunately we lost the recording of our TROMcast with Sophia….this is the reason why. Basically I forgot to tell Peertube to save the recording after the live ends…it was such a shame because it was a great podcast. In the followup TROMcast that just ended a few hours ago, I tried to summarize the key points of that episode. You can watch it here (we had 2 guests, the main developers of Friendica):

I think the description of this TROMcast is also relevant so I’ll drop it here:

In this episode we will discuss about moderating the fediverse. Is it different from the online moderation in general? Is it even effective? What about the technicality of it?

Our guests are Hypolite Petovan and Michael Vogel, some of the lead developers of Friendica and instance admins themselves.

NOTE: We have lost the recording of our last podcast. We had a great discussion with social psychologist Sophia Moskalenko about “Qanon, and the like”. In this episode we will try to summarize our discussion and the most important points. But we recommend that you follow her work.

About her https://ebcs.gsu.edu/profile/sophia-moskalenko/

We recommend the following interviews:

– TFTRH #54 – Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko: Pastels and Pedophiles https://ytb.trom.tf/watch?v=hUhKd_cdVGE

w/Mia Bloom, Sophia Moskalenko, Kim Kelly, Hadas Thier & Kate Willett | The Nomiki Show https://ytb.trom.tf/watch?v=9N8KtxuOPLs

– Inside the Mind of QAnon Believers with Dr. Sophia Moskalenko https://ytb.trom.tf/watch?v=A2Abz1X7vxU

– Sophia Moskalenko on “Radicalization and Martyrdom” https://ytb.trom.tf/watch?v=DwRGjeGRre4

Her Twitter account: https://bird.trom.tf/sophiamoskalen1

We’ve also had some really great discussions at our TROM Chats about this topic. I highly recommend you join our Matrix Spaces. More info here. After all of this I think I have made up my mind, but I will still thinker about it till the end of this month when I’ll announce what’s my final decision.

So.

I will moderate videos.trom.tf. Sorta. Maybe. Am I?

Here’s how I am approaching it: from the beginning the website was labeled as “science/technology/activism”. I knew that this instance will be invaded by crazy people so I labeled it in a way that I would like this instance to be about. But guess what? Many users did not respect it. It is a trade-free video platform for science/technology/activism videos. So if you post pseudoscience, or politics, or movies, and such, then you do not respect our website’s thematic. I do not ban or moderate you, I simply remove the videos that do not find in those categories. It is simple. If we made a trade-free websites about cats and you start to post about dogs, then fuck off honestly….why are you such a big-dick!?

This way, I do not feel any guilt in removing the 80% of the videos hosted on our instance. Since they posted dogs. Worst, they posted dead raccoons.

That’s all I’m telling you at the moment since we will explain in detail in our next (and last) TROMcast about the topic. Should be in a week or so.

UPDATE 3:

Final decision: our Peertube is a thematic instance and it was so from the beginning. Science/Technology + Activism that needs to fall into those two categories. Plus, English based content only. Simple! Please respect that. Here’s my latest video update:

I want to get over this so I for now, and hopefully for the future, this is the final decision. I want to focus on TROM II and a lot of other awesome things.

And since I promised I will teach anyone how to make their own video platform, here’s how:

1. You need a VPS (server). Sounds difficult but it isn’t. Use https://contabo.com/en/ – it is the cheapest and most reliable I could find. You can go for either a fast VPS (which I recommend) for like 6 Euros a month that has 200GB storage space, or a storage VPS for like 5 Euros a month for 300GB. I recommend to buy the vast VPS. Here is the link https://contabo.com/en/vps/

When you order only select Debian as the OS and Webmin as the Panel. That’s all you need. Both are free.

2. After you buy it they will send you the Webmin URL and credentials. Visit that link and login. Now in the lower left side of Webmin you have a button to access the command line:

Click it. In the command line we have to install 2 things. First type “sudo -i” then press enter. That will make you have root access. Then paste “apt install curl” or if it doesn’t install “curl” try “sudo apt install curl”. Once that is installed let’s install the wonderful Yunohost with “curl https://install.yunohost.org | bash”. Follow the instructions there then also visit the installation guide here. Trust me it is VERY easy.

3. Once you install and setup Yunohost then all of the hard work is done! From now on is easier than managing a wordpress website. In your Yunohost admin panel you can add a domain name, many are free (the .nohost ones for example). And after that you can go to the Applications list, search for Peertube and click install. Choose the domain name you want to use and that’s it.

You see, now you have your own video platform! Enjoy!

4 Replies to “Should I moderate videos.trom.tf?”

    1. The issue with Scuttlebutt and the way it works now, is that in order for you to find me, you have to join a “pub”. That’s like the name suggest: like a bar. It seems like there is no other direct way. Now…these pubs are hosted by servers to connect people. So imagine if these pubs are now being moderated….not good. And they are talking about that and about a rating system so that when an account is rated bad, it is kinda non-discoverable for anyone. But Scuttlebutt is the only example I currently know that goes into this decentralized direction.

    2. Hopefully Scuttlebutt will work without pubs and allow me to directly connect with you. And through you to be able to find your friends. So that we all create a way to discover each other without the need for servers.

  1. Thanks for the analysis. At least it helps thinking ahead. It seems that it is very difficult to make a choice. Whatever it is, we can hope that it is transitory … but we know how the transitory can turn into final…

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