Apps that promote hate speech and violence (dissenter-browser)

Dissenter-browser is gab.com’s new official browser with the banned dissenter plug-in built in.
From wikipedia, because it explains better than I can (it is late here and I’m tired):

" Gab is an English-language social networking service known for its far-right userbase.[8] The site has been widely described as a safe haven for extremists including neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the alt-right.[9][10] It has attracted far-right and alt-right users and groups who have been banned from other social networks.[20] Gab claims to stand for free speech and individual liberty, though these claims have been criticized as being a shield for its alt-right ecosystem.[21][18][22] Antisemitism is a prominent part of the site’s content, and the company itself has engaged in antisemitic commentary on Twitter.[24][25][26] Researchers have written that Gab is “known to be hateful”.[27] "…

“In February 2019, Gab launched Dissenter, a browser extension and website that allows Gab users to make comments on content hosted on any website via an overlay visible only to those logged into Dissenter or using the extension, and thus bypass their individual moderation practices.[33][34] In April 2019, Dissenter was removed from the Firefox Add-ons website and the Chrome Web Store for violation of their policies.[35] In July 2019, Gab switched its software infrastructure to a fork of Mastodon, a free and open-source social network platform. Mastodon released a statement in protest, denouncing Gab as trying to “monetize and platform racist content while hiding behind the banner of free speech.”[36]”

"In a 20-minute Periscope video accompanying the launch, Andrew Torba said that he expected Dissenter to be banned from extension stores and mentioned that Gab might build its own web browser in the future that has Dissenter built-in.[34] In April 2019, Mozilla removed the Dissenter extension from the Firefox Add-ons website for violating the hate speech portion of Mozilla’s acceptable use policy. In a statement to the Columbia Journalism Review, a Mozilla spokesperson said: “Mozilla does not endorse hate speech, and we do not permit our platforms to be used to promote such content.”[102] On April 11, Google removed the Dissenter extension from the Chrome Web Store.[35] Later in April, the Gab team forked the Brave web browser in order to bundle Dissenter. Brave CEO Brendan Eich criticized the decision to fork Brave as unnecessary and “parasitic”.[103]

Following the extension’s launch, Ana Valens of The Daily Dot described it as an “extension for the alt-right” to “mobilize against journalists, critics, and progressive websites”.[104] Saqib Shah of Engadget called Dissenter “a far-right comments section on every site” and Gab’s “latest attempt at attracting fringe voices”.[105] "

Sorry for the wall of text. For more info just google articles on Gab/Dissenter. I really don’t believe that this developer/app should have a place on snapcraft.

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And for further evidence of racism linked to this app, see (Warning - bigotry. Likely NSFW):

Is there anywhere else I can report this/ get support for this topic?

Thanks for reporting it. The reviewer team is looking into the issue right now. If you have knowledge of more concrete information or data that would help on the analysis, can you please submit it as well. Feel free to do so privately.

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I’m not really sure what else to add. This browser contains/highlights functionality previous enveloped in their browser add-on which was banned from Chrome and Firefox, because it’s connections with Gab and widespread use as a tool for spreading hate became known. Their (Dissenter’s) official storefront contains items with hateful messaging as I provided a link to above.
Here is an article that pre-empted Google and Mozilla’s ban of the original extension.


An excerpt:
"After CJR reached out to Mozilla, which runs the Firefox browser, it removed Dissenter from its extension store because of violations regarding its conditions of use prohibiting hate speech. A spokesperson from Mozilla tells CJR: “Mozilla does not endorse hate speech, and we do not permit our platforms to be used to promote such content.” Google also removed the plugin on the Chrome Web Store, following a request for comment by CJR. Microsoft and Apple did not immediately respond to requests. "

C’mon guys: Mozilla, Google, Mastodon, Brave… Everybody agrees that this should not be out there. @tranzzzistor brought a lot of information about DIssent and how other companies dealt with it.

Please, don’t let Snapcraft host this nonsense.

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@ ivo.cavalcante thank you for your support. I’m glad others are paying attention.

Gab is not a “hate speech platform”. It is a platform that was owned by, and promoted Conservative values that was labeled as such in order to prevent it from gaining any power politically. I have been on there for a long time, and what I can say is that there is significantly less “hate speech”, harassment, and foul language used on there than on Twitter, and I’d say probably slightly more foul language than Facebook.

The fact of the matter is that Gab is a very viable free speech platform that is owned by a Conservative CEO, which made it a target for a number of attacks. Their story is incredible.

For anybody that truly values free speech, Gab does not promote hate. I have seen zero posts promoting violence towards groups of people for race. Most of them are defensive posts lamenting the state of our country, the hypocrisy of the liberal establishment, and the ideas which produce division amongst our country. We are very much a conservative establishment, and perhaps one of the only truly free-standing speech platforms which have managed to evade the myriad of hateful attacks which have been brought on by the left.

Gab is not “hate speech”. Gab is free speech. And we do not promote senseless violence. We are Conservatives, and we are Christians. This is who Gab is, and that’s the honest-to-God truth.

When you realize just what all these companies did to try to keep the speech platforms like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter monopolized by a single political party, it will blow. your. mind.

Torba is literally blacklisted by Visa. It’s that bad.

Real shit. You have to look deeper.

It doesn’t actually seem like this snap is maintained. A browser which hasn’t been updated in over a year is a real security risk.

$ snap info dissenter-browser
name:      dissenter-browser
summary:   The Free Speech Web Browser
publisher: Gab AI, Inc. (gabdotcom)
store-url: https://snapcraft.io/dissenter-browser
license:   unset
description: |
  The Dissenter web browser is built for The People, not advertisers.
  Block Big Tech ads and trackers by default.
  Discover a comment section on every URL online. Welcome to the free speech internet.
snap-id: dxmPY0FySIu6VC8u4cQHqFEt9XXe5l4s
channels:
  latest/stable:    v0.65.121 2019-07-03 (5) 160MB -
  latest/candidate: ↑                              
  latest/beta:      ↑                              
  latest/edge:      ↑   

(Just noticed Galgalesh commented the same as me above whilst I was writing this, but felt I’d finish here anyway)

Speaking aside from the political discussion here, what worries me with the dissenter-browser snap is that it’s a web browser, which are notable for being extremely complex software with enourmous potential for remote exploitation vulnerabilities and the snap hasn’t been updated once in well over a year now. It is equivilent to Chrome 65, where Chrome has a monthly/bimonthly release cadence and is currently on version 84. Even outside the Snap packaging, upstream Dissenter Browser is 4 versions behind.

Being out of date isn’t usually an issue for Snaps, since old applications will still work in most cases due to the bundled dependencies, and security is mitigated through sandboxing. However this is a web browser, there are hundreds of known exploits in the past year alone; and the amount of trust a user places in a web browser is enourmous. I do not think Snapcraft should be facilitating users into installing software with known and critical vulnerabilities that could compromise a users entire online identity, credit card information, etc. The snapd sandbox is not enough to prevent a significant amount of issues in the context of the web browser itself being exploited.

IMO a web browser is an app that cannot just simply be dumped for the public to consume and not maintained. If the maintainer is not willing to put in effort on that front, Snapcraft shouldn’t take on board the political problems brought with it since there isn’t mutual giving from the maintainer and the community.

Again, this says nothing of the arguement the service is a hate speech platform, but this is still a serious enough concern IMO that it stands as valid reason to remove the snap as is. If the maintainers are willing to at least fix the raw packaging problems, perhaps further discussion is warranted. But hosting insecure snaps for the public is itself a serious issue I don’t think can be ignored.

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@ jamskahler pardon my language, but don’t piss in my ear and tell me it’s raining.

@jamskahler Also, I’m not sure we should be taking your word on issues of racism:

"Approximately 10 generations of black people ago, there were 2 generations of black people that served as slaves in the southern U.S. and about 4 generations of awkward tensions that followed. Blacks have had [all] of the same rights as whites, inclusive of greater opportunities for education and jobs through scholarships and affirmative action programs, for 60 years now.

I just don’t understand how much we’re trying to chalk up to the slave trade here. Every other nationality has come back from generational oppression.

There are differences in the way blacks and whites do things, and whites are dominant here on Earth (and probably always will be.) As a dominant species, we’ve done what we can to create a fair and balanced life for those who have been less fortunate.

But that’s all we can do. There is no more we can do. We can’t do more than that. That’s all there is."

-jamskahler @ Gab.com

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I don’t think it’s useful to discuss who might or might not be racist. Personal attacks are not appropriate and not suited for this forum.

A quick look through the wiki page of gab.com shows @tranzzzistor’s quotes are well-verified and the accompanying talk page shows a lot of thought and verification has been put into the entire article. Moreover, you only need so search for a single word on gab.com in order to disprove @jamskahler’s claims.

Whether or not this content is allowed in the store is something I leave to the reviewers.

For all intents and purposes, if you can host IRC chat applications, there’s no real reason or precedent to ban this software except for the purpose of political warfare hidden under the guise of “racism” or some other wide-reaching, targeted attempt at Conservative censorship.

There are ZERO conservative social media sites out there. Censorship is a real issue, and this kind of rhetoric, what you see before you, is a perfect example of what Gab has faced.

I need to remind you - Overall the platform does not condone racial prejudice. We also do not condone racial violence. It is a conservative Christian site at its core that talks about issues in a very real way, and we consider all options on the table.

What is happening to this platform is un-American and tyrannical. Visa, PayPal, Coinbase, Square, and several other companies that are quite important for the purpose of survival have waged warfare against this platform’s creator and his family because he is unwilling to engage in the active censorship of his users, and because of his MINORITY STATUS as a Conservative social media CEO.

The people that are trying to put this platform away are all waging political warfare, and it’s exactly what they’ve done to others on their social media sites, where we as Conservative users have all been harassed and targeted with foul and hurtful language, banned from platforms, all of the above.

I would challenge that the risks of these high-level exploits are minor compared to the people who actually know and can use them. We’re talking about something that’s based on last year’s version of Chrome. Chrome has been around for a long time. These security risks are minor.

Based on this level of risk, I would imagine that notifying the app’s maintainer of this security issue would be a [fair] and proper step.

That being said - It should be emphasized that Dissenter is a minority application - in that it is owned by a Conservative CEO in a highly liberal space, and should be treated as such for purposes of diversity. I’m serious about this, apps that are owned and maintained by Conservative users are on the lower end of the spectrum because of the political biases in Silicon Valley which have given them an edge in development.

In other words, I think it would be fair to provide time for Torba to get the app up to security standards.

Single word search: see “selection bias”. Applicable to all social media platforms. Much easier to find if you’re looking for hatred towards white Conservative Christians [really]

Search the term “white” and you will see racial prejudice to an extraordinary amount right before your eyes.

Leaving aside the question of what any given site may or may not host, let us remember that any respect for freedom of speech (as a broad principle , not specifically as the narrow 1st Amendment) requires that every ignorant, bigoted jackass be allowed to shoot their mouth off as freely as the correctest, rightest advocate of goodness and niceness for all.

I’m sure I’d probably find the ideas published on Gab as nauseating as I do those bruited about on Twitter, Facebook, or the New York Times editorial column for that matter, but nonetheless, my dislike for them does not and more importantly should not empower me to make them shut up. Or the world would be a much quieter place.

We used to understand this, noting especially that there is never a guarantee that the right flavor of right-thinking people will be the one which defines “hate speech” or “obscenity” or “sedition”, or whatever the excuse of the day for censorship is.

(As a side note, silencing your opponents also implicitly concedes that you can’t beat them in an argument. And I’m pretty sure that we can, in fact, beat these assorted hypothetical hatemongers into quivering verbal jello. Hell, a bot posting links to the “Your Ideology Is Stupid and Evil and So Are You FAQ” would more than suffice.)

This isn’t about silencing them. They are free to have their forum and there is nothing you or I could do about that, regardless of whether or not we wanted to.
This is about Snapcraft providing a platform to host this app, and how such a decision relates to our own community standards as well as the effect such may have on other people deciding whether or not they want to be partcipants in this community.
I would further add that hate speech isn’t all that relative, in that historically, the same peole and groups of people have been targeted pretty consistently.

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I think it’s important not to put hate speech and violence in the same category as obscenity. The former two require to be handled differently.

Hate speech and violence are also much more objective than obscenity. There is a general consensus to what violence is. Obscenity, however differs a lot across the cultures.

I also want to add that free speech can never be an absolute right for the simple reason that the speech of some might infringe on the right to free speech of others. Absolute free speech is simply contradictio in terminis.

Free speech is also not the only basic human right, so speech that conflicts with other rights must also be governed. Violence and inciting violence being two of those.

The Ubuntu community has always been a welcoming and inclusive place, but that means some speech and some behavior needs to be moderated.

Again, whether or not this applies to this app, I’ll leave that to the reviewers. I just want to provide some context to explain why this is not a black or white matter.

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That, too, is very dependent on culture and moment in history. If we were transported back to, say, the 1950s, it would not be at all hard to find at least as good a general consensus on what constituted obscenity and why it was absolutely crucial that it be banned as an exception to freedom of speech.

(And, in what I believe to be an indisputably valid comparison of obscenity to hate speech, the Comstock Laws in the US were used specifically to target women and gays, among others. I mention this last to point out that while justified as protecting the weak - children, for example, in the case of the Comstock Laws - in practice, silencing laws are yet another bludgeon of the strong.)

I’d also add, since you mention violence as something on which there is a general consensus as to the definition that, if you look at say, Twitter, today there appears to be no such consensus; on the one hand, we have people arguing that mere offensive language is a kind of violence, and on the other hand, we have people arguing that only acts causing direct and permanent bodily harm are violence.

And even incitement to violence - and I support the current legal consensus on incitement to violence as an exception to the freedom of speech - has been used as a tool of the state to suppress dissent. (See Abrams vs. US (1919), the Alien and Sedition Acts, etc.) Thus, I believe that it’s an exception that needs to be handled with a careful and light touch, because it’s so very easy for it to turn in your hand.

I agree with that where the Ubuntu community is concerned. I definitely support the right of the community, or any community, to kick out those it finds, shall we say, beyond the pale. (I can hardly not do so, given that I moderate my own, after all.)

But there’s a difference between, on the one hand, moderating the community’s own forums for inappropriate speech and behavior, and on the other hand, passing judgement on which tools and fora outwith the community that its members (or, indeed, outsiders who merely use its products) may or may not have access to - and, in my opinion, starting to determine acceptable and unacceptable communications apps based on the behavior on some, even most, of their users is well over that line.

We’re a platform, not the morality police.