Netflix, Instagram, and DRM


I saw these posts:

I understand “The Social Dilemma” has been a popular documentary that might be relevant to software freedom. However, it is available only on Netflix which itself uses Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Further you are having this discussion only in Instagram (or at least that is the only option given for us to join the program) and that itself uses DRM. You could argue this event is for those who don’t know or don’t care about DRM, but I fundamentally disagree with the approach of having such a discussion about content which cannot be accessed without subjecting ourselves to DRM. At the minimum, FSFTN should have provided an easily accessible alternative to watch the stream. I deleted Facebook and Instagram because of ideological reasons and now you are alienating people like me from being even part of these discussions. There are millions of other groups to do these discussions in Facebook and Instagram. Even if you found some strategic value in putting up this conversation in Instagram, I wonder what really stops us from providing a publicly accessibly free software channel to watch the same content without subjecting ourselves to DRM or compromising our privacy? Who came up with this idea of doing only Instagram feed for this important discussion and why was an alternative not provided for interested people to join the discussion without compromising our privacy or sacrificing software freedom?


I am not sure why no one cared to even respond to the questions raised in my previous email. Maybe some people are too busy responding to Instagram comments and emails, IRC, Matrix chat, and Discuss posts seems to be the last priority.

Interestingly, the irony is that Social Dilemma itself is talks about all the issues with propitiatory social media but it is (legally) available only on platforms like Netflix which enforce DRM. That itself seems to be the biggest dilemma about this documentary. A bunch of people criticizing surveillance capitalism but personally making their money by enforcing DRM. I am also surprised this was not discussed at all (yes I did watch the recording of this FSFTN talk). Although there were passing references to the issues of Facebook, we did not directly call out Instagram or offer meaningful alternatives for our audience. Not a single reference to the issues of DRM? Why?

Here is one example of how real engagement with free software platforms is possible. Lunduke is a YouTuber and free software activist. He interviewed RMS and put this video on YouTube ( but right at the beginning of the video tells viewers that he recommends they watch it in ( for ethical reasons. He is also now present in If we keep telling people proprietary platforms are evil but please join as in Instagram (as the only possible option) to discuss it, itn’s it sheer hypocrisy from our side?

Maybe this was a genuine oversight of the people who planned this event and if that is the case, it will be good to acknowledge and move on. If we are going to take efforts to make sure we do use free software platforms, that will be good. Or, maybe, I misunderstood the whole movement and it will be great if the more knowledgeable people can educate me and point out what is wrong about my analysis here. Or maybe we just have differences of opinion, but this at least needs an open debate here or in email or in Matrix. I am sorry I honestly don’t understand what is the reason for this type of selective disengagement about the topic. Again, I am not saying you have to accept what I say. Maybe I am totally wrong, but I will be really thankful to you if you can at least share your point of view and help me understand what is happening here. It is not necessary that anyone has to agree with me or even that all of us have to have one view on this. However, I strongly feel we need to have a frank and open debate on this which looks like hypocrisy: to tell people to tune in to Instagram just to know what the issue with proprietary social media.

Looking forward to hearing from you!




And now there are these posts:

One thing is very obvious. This is not an oversight or mistake. It is a considered decision of FSFTN to predominantly use proprietary platforms (provided by unethical corporations, are known to use invasive tracking, and enforce DRM) as the primary mode of connecting with its target audience. When questioned the only response we got is (1) free software alternatives for live streaming like PeerTube have some problems (2) people can use open source front-end for propitiatory tools to protect their privacy and (3) we will consider other options as and when possible but until then will continue with Instagram and Facebook.

Any idea why these programs cannot be organized in free and open source platforms (like how many others organize the program in Jitsi and BigBlueButton and live stream in propitiatory platforms when necessary)? Any explanation why the talented people in FSFTN using other free and open source front end applications to protect their privacy while using Facebook and Instagram and YouTube don’t even care to mention those options while posting in these platforms?

Personally I have learned a lot from FSFTN programs and I have a lot of respect for the team. However, this is nothing personal. This is about ideology and what we are doing. I think it is high time that FSFTN gives a clear public statement about the EXCLUSIVE use of propitiatory platforms to conduct online events. I personally feel it is pure hypocrisy for us to continue to exclusively use propitiatory platforms and not even make a disclaimer about the dangers of DRM and tracking or provide accessible privacy-respecting alternatives for those who want to connect with us.

I am also very disappointed that a team that is aggressively live-streaming on Facebook and Instagram is also choosing to selectively not respond to posts in Discuss and mailing list. I am not in Facebook and Instagram. Although I have a Twitter account, it is not my intention to start a debate there as I feel this is something that needs an internal debate first. However, very sorry to see the team is sold out to Mark Zuckerberg and does not even care to respond to posts in Discuss and mailing list.



Why is it that no one from FSFTN cares to reply to email or Discuss posts? Is it they are too busy checking Facebook and Instagram comments and have no time for email?

I understand there were a few opinions expressed in the Matrix ( channel. However, I am still not convinced I got any proper explanation of how doing programs EXCLUSIVELY in Facebook and Instagram Live and then making them available days, months, or years later in free platforms is really helping the cause of software freedom. I also saw this announcement:

Are you talking about Richard Stallman just because it is fashionable to do so, or are you talking about him because you are really inspired by his ideas? Would you care to read his note about Facebook:

From my understanding of the article, Richard Stallman says if at all we feel our organization needs a Facebook “presence” we should selectively post some information there and try to get our audience to visit us on our website (or other free platforms). To the best of my judgement, you seem to be doing exactly the opposite, posting a teaser in Mastadon and free channels and telling people, if you really want to watch this today, please join us on Facebook. In spite of the previous discussion in Matrix channel, you have chosen not to even consider telling the target audience about how to access Facebook or Instagram using the free software frontends. I am still not convinced that there is a reason you cannot do this in a free software platform like BigBlueButton and allow others to join us views (you can even prevent viewers from using microphone if you prefer that). If you sincerely believe that the only way to advocate for free software is by getting everyone to join discussions on proprietary platforms like Facebook and INstagram, maybe you should consider shutting down the mailing list and Discuss and call yourself the movement to talk about free software within the ecosystem of Mark Zuckerber’s platforms? You don’t have to agree with me, but the way you choose not to engage with these observations makes me question your motives of these EXCLUSIVE live events in Facebook and Instagram.




I only got only reply in Matrix channel and in that reply it was mentioned “I am not interested in online debates, instead I would be happy to put my time working with GLUGs” and also “FSFTN is not an online ad-hoc discussion group. GLUGs are it’s primary unit and members of FSFTN must be part of GLUGs either as members in it or must take responsibility to nurture an GLUG.” Overall the tone of the reply is you don’t matter if you are not running a GLUG and as long as you are able to have GLUGs and bring members you can do pretty much anything you like including using GLUGs to promote people to use Facebook and Instagram (perhaps to talk about free software as that is a cool topic to discuss). Since this person has chosen not to participate in the email list, I am not naming them and not giving the entire content but I am sharing below my reply to their post.

Why is no one taking a stand. If you sincerely believe that it is a good thing to get people to use Facebook and Instagram to watch FSFTN events (as they are currently EXCLUSIVELY available in those channels only), at least openly say that here and explain your reasoning. If you disagree, will you join me to work together to find a practical solution for FSFTN to make future events available simultaneously on free platforms? I don’t have a perfect solution either, but will be happy to see what we can do provided we agree there is a problem, but those who think there is no problem, maybe they should quite the mailing list and just focus their energy on talking about free software within the ambit of platforms provided by their hero Mark Zuckerberg, if not for whom they would not be able to hold such important discussions on free software during the troubling times of COVID. All the best either way!


I again appreciate you for at least having the courtesy and decency to reply although I still don’t understand your unwillingness to really engage with the topic of discussion. However, I profoundly disagree with your idea that what I am saying is ideological purism. Not at all. What I am bringing up is a very very pragmatic question: should we use Facebook and Instagram to encourage people to use Mastodon and Fediverse, or should we use the free platforms to get more users over to Mark Zuckerberg’s platforms? When did I or anyone else here say not to provide streams in Facebook or YouTube? We are only telling you that it is unethical as well as counterproductive to our advocacy for software freedom to EXCLUSIVELY stream content in Facebook and Instagram giving the participants no readily accessible way to watch it without subjecting themselves to DRM and the immoral terms of service of those providers. Also it is not my intention to just criticize but rather work together with you all to identify and implement solutions. It will be ideal to find a solution to PeerTube but using that as an excuse for not only using but promoting Facebook and Instagram and calling yourself a free software activist is heights of hypocrisy. Why do you deliberately choose to ignore other solutions that involve minimal cost or effort. One solution we readily have is BigBlueButton, of which implementations are already available. You can have others as viewers on the platforms and it can also be recorded and made available in that platform free of DRM. I am sure there are some experts on this here who can help if you will just set aside your arrogant attitude of you know everything and have the decency to ask for help. Further, I remember that even previous programs of FSFTN have been done with help from SWECHA who also had a streaming solution build on BigBlueButton in case you feel you can contact them again. What you are now doing is much much more horrible than people using Windows in GLUG events. Yes, that is not good. However, if someone uses Windows, they are surrendering their software freedom to Microsoft. People like you are deceiving the world by telling them that software freedom is an aim to pursue but simultaneously encouraging them to surrender their privacy and software freedom to unethical corporations. Again sorry if this looks like a personal attack but that is not my intention. Yet, it is extremely annoying when you deliberately choose not to engage with the topic of conversations: how are you going to promote free software if the first impression someone gets is free software is a hobby thing and not really useful for even having an online meetup? And why do you not even post a note about the other free software front-end to access Facebook or Instagram in your public posts about these events? Why do you not start these talks with a disclaimer about the problems of DRM? I don’t care if you are full time or part time, but I do care if the net result of your actions is encouraging people to take care of their software or if it is encouraging people to surrender themselves to Mark Zuckerberg. Anyone who has an iota of commonsense left knows the obvious answer!