How to exercise your freedom of speech now that you've been 'silenced' by the 'illiberal left'

Time to join the resistance.


So, you're a problematic conservative or centrist writer and things have been tough for you lately. I get it. People on the "illiberal left" are running you out of town for your "opinions," and up until now you've enjoyed the credibility of huge media institutions while people laud you as a "free thinker." But now that the internet has seemingly run out of smoke to blow up your ass, what are you to do?

Well, you're in luck my controversial friend, because the internet has never been more open than it is today (despite what Ted Cruz wants you to believe). You see, the internet is, actually, a public square. Twitter, on the other hand, is a for-profit corporation. A lot of people get that confused. The internet is a set of protocols running on mostly open-source software, whereas Twitter is a public company that runs its spaghetti code on servers that it rents from other companies.

While it's true that you probably haven't actually been kicked off Twitter, and that you actually haven't had your speech silenced or even muffled in any real, tangible way, you're probably thinking to yourself: Why do we let Twitter and Facebook make the rules? What if I want to take my anti-academic ball and go home? To that I say: Welcome to the resistance, friend. There's a community of people that's fighting against the corporate hegemony of Twitter and Facebook. I'm pleased to introduce you to the world of self-hosted and federated software.

Self-hosted and federated apps

Self-hosted software are applications that you install and run yourself. Plex is a great example; let's say that you have a bunch of movies on your computer and you want to play them on your TV and other devices. You can install Plex Media Server on your computer, point it at your folder of movies, and it will locally aggregate them and make them available to your other devices. The key difference is that Plex doesn't stream movies from Plex's website, it streams them from your computer. That's why it's called self-hosted.

Plus, self-hosted software doesn't mean offline software. As we'll see in a moment, a lot of self-hosted software that you can run at home can be made accessible to the wider internet. We'll get into the nuts and bolts of how you run this software in a bit, but first let's look at your options.

Federated software is even more interesting, as it allows you to own and control your own instance of an app, which then coordinates with other people's instances to make one cohesive whole. A perfect example of this is Mastodon, explained below.

A Twitter alternative

Let's say you're a Laura Loomer or a Milo Yiannopoulos type who has violated Twitter's Terms of Service so many times that you're actually banned from the service, as opposed to just experiencing a little push-back from the proletariat. In that case, you can actually run your own Twitter clone called Mastodon, and unlike Parler, which is just another company trying to cash in on conservatives' performative victim complex, you can spin up your own Mastodon instance and set your own rules. Plus, Mastodon is federated software, meaning that, should their admins allow it, your toxic toots (the Mastodon equivalent of tweets) can be seen by users running other Mastodon instances. So yes, even though Mastodon is a social media platform that has given marginalized communities a safe place to talk away from people like you, you're free to spin up your own instance and even broadcast beyond it. Now that's freedom!

A blog alternative

Alright, now you're going to need a place to post your galaxy brain takes about how the military actually should kill protesters or whatever, so you need a blogging platform that can't be taken down. You're in luck, because Write Freely is an app that you can run yourself, and it even integrates with the same federated network that Mastodon relies on. Now, Write Freely is still relatively new, so you won't have as many options as, say, WordPress, but it's also far less of a nightmare to install and use.

A Google Drive alternative

Before you post your next screed, naturally you need to write it. And if you're going this far to avoid the big platforms trying to get you down, why not go all the way? Fortunately CryptPad, an alternative to Google Drive based on Etherpad, has become strikingly capable in the last few years. Like a lot open source software CryptPad has its rough edges, but I've written several articles in CryptPad docs. In fact, that's what I'm writing this article in right now.


A YouTube alternative

Can you really call yourself a reactionary if you don't have a dubious YouTube channel? Since YouTube has advertisers to please and a Terms of Service agreement that values basic human dignity, it can be an unwelcoming place for someone like you. You can, however, run your own instance of PeerTube, a decentralized YouTube clone that operates via peer-to-peer BitTorrent streaming. It's definitely a work in progress, but hey, so is your empathy for people who aren't exactly like you.

The hardware

Naturally as a red blooded American you're going to host all this from the confines of your Montana dairy farm, right? After all, you're not some city-slicking liberal elite using someone else's servers. That'd be, like, an affront to small-town, main street American values. So you're going to need a Raspberry Pi 4 (seen above) to host all these applications. You can install many of these applications directly, but you can also check out Docker's website to see if there's a pre-made Docker file. Docker is really cool, and you can learn more about it here. Then you're probably going to need a gnarly case, like the one one shown below.

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So there you have it; now that you've been silenced (you haven't) you have all the tools you need to profit off of fear and prejudice in this great nation. Oh wait, sorry, I'm getting an urgent update... I've just been informed that you aren't going to use any of this because what you want isn't actually the ability to speak freely. No, I'm now being told that what you really want is the large, institutional audience (and the power that comes with it) that these social media monopolies and traditional publications provide. Interesting. Sorry, I should have known better than to take you at your word.