The Day We Fight Back February 10, 2014 12:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm curious, is MetaFilter going to join The Day We Fight Back protest against mass surveillance tomorrow, along with Boing Boing, Reddit and others?
posted by homunculus to MetaFilter-Related at 12:50 PM (74 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

This sounds like a good cause. We don't have any plans to participate.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:58 PM on February 10, 2014


Yeah, haven't made any plans on the site, but tomorrow'd probably be an even better time than usual to call your representatives and let 'em know exactly how you'd like them to be representing you regarding this stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:00 PM on February 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just heard about it, not planning to do anything special. Call your legislators and complain right now if you'd like.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:05 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


You're not fooling me into telling, homunculus, or should I say, AGENT HOMUNCULUS?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:08 PM on February 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yeah, haven't made any plans on the site, but tomorrow'd probably be an even better time than usual to call your representatives

Okey dokey. Thanks for the reply.
posted by homunculus at 2:01 PM on February 10, 2014


Citizen Foot,

I regret to inform you that we ceased monitoring you and your activities some time ago. With all due respect, our analysts found it disappointing and, frankly, dull. If you wish to be subjected to future scrutiny, you're going to need to up your game and spice things up a bit. I suggest unorthodox porn, as the analysts here can get very lonely and jaded.

Sincerely,
THEM
posted by homunculus at 2:03 PM on February 10, 2014 [22 favorites]


Maybe go as far as sidebarring this MeTa?
posted by Wolfdog at 2:04 PM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


or should I say, AGENT HOMUNCULUS?!?

I thought HOMUNCULUS stood for "the Homeland Operational Military of the United Nations for Control of the Ultimate Liberties of the United States." Was I wrong?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:20 PM on February 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


Maybe MonkeyFilter is doing something?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:30 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"The Day We Fight Back" sounds too much like the subtitle to Terminator 6 for me to take it seriously.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:54 PM on February 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Maybe MonkeyFilter is doing something?

MoFi is being redesigned, so tracicle's hands are full at the moment. Also, I've found that the only thing flinging feaces at online surveillance seems to achieve is to make it very hard to see the screen.
posted by homunculus at 3:23 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh hey, I'm one of the organizers/web developers and a big lurker. Would be awesome if mefi participated (it's really easy, can just add the javascript snippet from this page. But totally understand if it's not appropriate or possible in the timeframe.

And yeah, I agree re: the terminator-ish name :/.
posted by sinak at 3:39 PM on February 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Well seeing as I am in DC for REDACTED in order to REDACTED to REDACTED with Senator REDACTED and the head of REDACTED for the northeast, I could try to put in a word about REDACTED REDACTED cortex REDACTED REDACTED the real reason behind LARP Trek REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED and sonascope is a double agent anyway.
posted by The Whelk at 3:49 PM on February 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


[watch very closely for the removal of this banner ad]
posted by threeants at 5:07 PM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here's what you really need to know about government surveillance:

███████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████
███████████████████████████████████████████
██████████████████████████████████████.

It's really just that simple.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:05 PM on February 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think you screwed up in the third line, towards the center. Looks like you forgot to carry the 2, your conclusions is a bit off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tyranny apparently looks like a comb with missing teeth.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:30 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"The Day We Fight Back" sounds too much like the subtitle to Terminator 6 for me to take it seriously.

Just calling it "The Day We Talk Back" would've reduced the hyperbole by about 98%.

But I don't blame them. You wanna make an omelet, you gotta mix some metaphors.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:40 PM on February 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


Yeah, MeFi should definitely add the banner. It's not like they're asking sites to go dark again or anything.
posted by mediareport at 6:58 PM on February 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just calling it "The Day We Talk Back" would've reduced the hyperbole by about 98%.

"The Day We Get Put on an List" seems equally a valid title. I mean, you're signing up on a list, to show that you're on it, then you make your own list of people and places to go to convince more people to get on these lists, primarily using lists made by companies specializing in personalized lists of your social groups and interests, and then all of it gets put on a list by the government, and compares that list to the millions of other lists they have to see if you're worth being put on one of the real important lists.

I could see Arlo Guthrie making a killing on a song about that.
posted by chambers at 7:03 PM on February 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


You can't spell REDACTED without DC.
posted by maryr at 7:30 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't quite get it. The first suggested activity is to share your intention to participate on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, but didn't Facebook and Google cooperate with NSA?
posted by gingerest at 8:06 PM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


You can't spell REDATCED without Google trying to tell you you spelled it wrong.

and then asking you to join Google+.
posted by maryr at 8:27 PM on February 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


You can't spell redacted without "acted red". Which is what got you on the watch list in the good old days.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:47 PM on February 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Is this something I would have to have something to hide to care about?
posted by notyou at 9:59 PM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I don't quite get it. The first suggested activity is to share your intention to participate on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, but didn't Facebook and Google cooperate with NSA?"

Or just share, "Al Qaida Bin Laden plan is go meat is murder EARTH FIRST." That'll let the NSA know you're participating, just as quick.
posted by klangklangston at 9:59 PM on February 10, 2014


Or just share, "Al Qaida Bin Laden plan is go meat is murder EARTH FIRST." That'll let the NSA know you're participating, just as quick.

A love letter to the NSA agent who is monitoring my online activity.
posted by homunculus at 10:21 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


If people honestly don't get it, as opposed to just making "funny" quips about the most important issue of our time:

Yes. That is exactly what you do. You get out in the streets, or at the very least you put your name out there online. You stand up with a lot of other people and say, "We don't like what you're doing. We know you want to intimidate us, but you can't if we stand together. We're not afraid to challenge you publicly."
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:21 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I already do that. Can I also goof on how much of a fucking waste of time and money that the NSA snoop-veillance is?
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 PM on February 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Lighten up, Francis.

Tomorrow, I'll be reminding my local liberal Democratic C-person that he owes me for the help I offered him in '12, as well as refer him to his most recent mailer in which he points out that his seat has been TARGETED by the GOP this cycle and my help is DESPERATELY needed again.

Seems Alan Lowenthal owes me TWO favors, and I'll spend them both in trade for the right position on this.
posted by notyou at 10:50 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The most important issue of our time? I dunno, freedom of US citizens from intrusive electronic surveillance by their government is pretty important, but climate change, poverty and wealth inequality, social marginalization, food insecurity, or environmental degradation might be of more interest to some people. There's 195 countries in the world (many represented at MeFi) where protesting the NSA won't help - even if posting an icon or two discourages NSA from tromping all over the rights guaranteed to American citizens under the Constitution, it won't change their behavior towards anyone else.

(I wasn't quipping, either, but your US-centric perspective got under my skin. And I'm American!)
posted by gingerest at 11:02 PM on February 10, 2014 [7 favorites]




I dunno, freedom of US citizens from intrusive electronic surveillance by their government is pretty important,

I guess you missed the part where the U.S. government had turned the entire world's internet into a giant panopticon.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:36 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no, I didn't miss that. That's what the next sentence was about. I don't think any amount of protest can or will stop NSA from spying on the rest of the world or from selling and trading the information they collect on the rest of the world's citizens - there's no Constitutional argument for that. A treaty might work but probably not.
posted by gingerest at 11:55 PM on February 10, 2014


>I dunno, freedom of US citizens from intrusive electronic surveillance by their
>government is pretty important,

I guess you missed the part where the U.S. government had turned the entire world's internet into a giant panopticon.


That's what we pay the NSA to do. It's right there in their mission statement that they exist to gather intelligence on foreign states and citizens.

Now that I think about it's an interesting sort of detente. I'm pretty sure that just working in the Silicon Valley for this long I show up in many Chinese intelligence files as "associate of". It's likely that at some point I've had an email or two snooped for that reason, and I'm surprisingly okay with that. If China wants to spy on me then sure, why not, go ahead. However, if my own country starts spying on me that really pisses me off.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:59 PM on February 10, 2014


There's no good reason why MeFi isn't running the banner, and many good reasons why it should be.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:07 AM on February 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


You know something is awry when I agree with Aol, Apple, boingboing, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, Yahoo and a host of other corporations objecting to information gathering by my government.

The more salient question though might be why do Aol, Apple, boingboing, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, Yahoo and a host of other corporations object?
posted by vapidave at 12:08 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because it's their data and they saw it first.

Even without official participation, at least we can have a relatively open, uncensored discussion about the topic. That should count for something considering the topic is, you know, surveillance.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 1:35 AM on February 11, 2014


The more salient question though might be why do Aol, Apple, boingboing, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, Yahoo and a host of other corporations object?

Because complying with government requests for access to their customer info is expensive for them. And because being involved with the government's ridiculous surveillance boondoggle hurts their corporate reputations and costs them custom, which is expensive for them.

It's just good business for them to object.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:09 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know that my funning about this may rub some the wrong way. I'm angry and upset about the NSA too. Unfortunately, my representatives in Congress aren't going to pass any such bill. A banner ad across the tops of websites that were already firmly against the surveillance isn't going to do it. Me immolating myself on the Capitol steps isn't going to do it. The best I can do at this point is carry my ACLU card, give some money to the EFF and snark like hell. Please don't try to take away my admittedly weak form of protest.

I think that Metafilter should have participated in this protest, but it's not my site. People forget that Matt is our benevolent dictator for life and more importantly, he pays the light bill here.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:59 AM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is this the same US government that's so well known for putting the needs of the people above corporate interests? The one that's more responsive to petitions and demonstrations than campaign donations?
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:02 AM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I guess you missed the part where the U.S. government had turned the entire world's internet into a giant panopticon.

You give way too much credit to the government here. They just picked up the tools already designed and created by marketers long before they came along.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:41 AM on February 11, 2014


We should imho post an FPP about this campaign to discuss who participated, other activism efforts, etc. I won't do it myself because I posted an NSA related thread yesterday, but someone should.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:25 AM on February 11, 2014


Berkeley in the Sixties is now in full on youtube. One of the subjects interviewed makes the claim that the protests were instrumental in stopping the escalation of the Vietnam War. The point is arguable, but the story is pretty damn awesome in any case.

(The claim which I have not seen documented can be seen in the Frank Bardacke comment on p44 this transcript pdf.)
posted by bukvich at 6:49 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


@DayWeFightBack   #TheDayWeFightBack   #StoptheNSA
posted by jeffburdges at 8:17 AM on February 11, 2014


Tyranny apparently looks like a comb with missing teeth.

No, tyranny is when it snows in Atlanta.
posted by Naberius at 8:32 AM on February 11, 2014


Metafilter will not be participating in this campaign.
posted by NSA at 11:09 AM on February 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


Having grown up in the 1980s, when I see Fight Back, it automatically means one thing: David Horowitz.
posted by crapmatic at 11:10 AM on February 11, 2014


People forget that Matt is our benevolent dictator for life and more importantly, he pays the light bill here.

A minor quibble, perhaps, but no, he doesn't. The users of Metafilter do, first by paying for accounts (by all accounts a minor slice of the pie) and by providing content for the site at no charge, which generates the ad revenue that really pays the bills.

Matt would probably agree with this. In truth, it's the same situation across most of the web.
posted by anemone of the state at 11:40 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Shame on MetaFilter for opting out.
posted by lordaych at 12:43 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is my strained-politeness face.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:07 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Shame on MetaFilter for opting out.

Oh, please. Don't be a jerk.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:40 PM on February 11, 2014


Oh, please, that is so not a jerky thing to say by any standard. Perhaps you meant to say "please don't have a dissenting opinion?"
posted by entropicamericana at 1:58 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think basically deciding that we are worthy of shame because we decided not to opt in to do a thing that we had only heard about at the lastish minute is actually different from just having a dissenting opinion, personally.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:28 PM on February 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Nobody said you had to agree with lordaych, but shaming seems to be a pretty well-accepted tactic around here.

Would it have made a difference if there had been more notice? What and when was the last time MetaFilter participated in a 'net protest like this?

To my recollection, it has been a while and that sort of makes me sad. One can argue about the efficacy of such campaigns to make change, but at the very least they help build awareness, something that I think is generally approved of around here. Or, to make a more cynical argument, they probably increase comments and pageviews.

Anyway, this isn't a hill I particularly want to die on, but I did want to duly register my opinion. Shameful? Maybe, maybe not, I'm not sure. Somewhat disappointing? Yes.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:41 PM on February 11, 2014


Would it have made a difference if there had been more notice?

More notice and concomitant active discussion about the meaning and community feeling about one or another specific approach is pretty much exactly what would have been meaningfully useful, yeah. That's how this place generally works.

I've got zero ire for the specific thing other sites are doing and am supportive of the sentiment as far as that goes, but it's also not something that had any real discussion here ahead of time, and while it was absolutely fine for homunculus to bring it up here, a "how about it" thread at the last minute with a couple dozen comments in that short window of time isn't really a LET'S GET THE SITE ON THIS BANDWAGON IMMEDIATELY sort of mandate. Not specifically and proactively jumping into that at the last minute isn't the same thing as "opting out".

So it's, yeah, kind of jerky and shitty to respond with here with "shame on you" instead of something substantial like e.g. "hey, this is why this is important to me" or "here's an idea I have about how the Metafilter community can contribute on these issues" if that's where someone's actually coming from. It's shades of "where's your American Flag lapel pin", to me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:55 PM on February 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't really want to get into an extended back-and-forth on this, but it seems to me MetaFilter has not been involved in one of these campaigns for quite a while. I seem to remember a similar pitch for PIPA/SOPA that was also shot down. My memory may be faulty or maybe it was a similar lack of notice, I don't know. Is this just something MetaFilter Doesn't Do anymore? If so, why?

If the lack of notice is the primary stumbling block on these sort of campaigns, what would be the minimum amount of time for something to get fair consideration?

If the lack of a mandate from the userbase is the stumbling block, is it fair to have three staff members in quick succession shoot it down before a single user weighs in?

I don't think it's really necessary to explain why the NSA issue is important to anybody here and while I can kind of appreciate the lapel pin metaphor, wearing a lapel pin doesn't do anything, urging people to call their representatives (and making it easy for them to do it) might.

Again, not a hill I want to die on, etc, etc. Just trying to understand this.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:10 PM on February 11, 2014


Is this just something MetaFilter Doesn't Do anymore? If so, why?

I don't recall it being a thing Metafilter Did In The First Place, mostly. I can think of maybe a couple things in the last several years but those were more exception than rule. As a site we're a lot more likely to have a conversation about something than we are to put up a banner or a blackout or so on. So "why not anymore" feels like begging the question.

If the lack of a mandate from the userbase is the stumbling block, is it fair to have three staff members in quick succession shoot it down before a single user weighs in?

The post was specifically asking us—as in, it's pretty unambiguously a "what's going on administratively" thing as phrased, something only mods could definitively answer at the time the post went up—whether or not we had plans to do a specific thing. That's a question we're going to answer, and the answer was that we did not have plans. If there had been some big groundswell to the contrary in the ensuing thread, we'd have talked about it from there and considered how to proceed, but it didn't happen. None of us said "no, and it's a bad idea that people should not support" or anything like that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:17 PM on February 11, 2014


The only protest I remember MetaFilter participating in was the PIPA/SOPA protest a few years ago. That specific legislation represented an existential threat to MetaFilter itself. Here's the thread where Matt explained his reasoning behind participating. Here's the thread where someone suggested participation eight days or so before the event was going to take place.

MetaFilter is not normally an activist site. This is not a deviation from the norm or a past norm. The SOPA/PIPA blackout was a fairly extraordinary event in the site's history.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:18 PM on February 11, 2014


Can't we just participate in this by someone maybe posting it to the front page, and everyone can discuss it and raise awareness there?

We post links and talk about things on the internet. It's what we do.
posted by Roger Dodger at 3:26 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, thanks for the replies.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:34 PM on February 11, 2014


Yey, aniola solved the problem! :)

You cannot shame or yell at folks for not going to a protest, lordaych and entropicamericana. I agree with Alice Walker that "activism is the rent i pay for living on this planet", but.. We're all quite far behind on those rent payments, so ask nicely. And expend your shaming and yelling on the people actively making the world worse off.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:11 PM on February 11, 2014


Another imho issue with MetaFilter is that MeFi mail should use HTTPS with ECDHE. And doing so could realistically earn Matt either an NSL from the FBI, or even a hacking by the NSA, over certain users.

It's tricky though : You should also prevent the user's session hash from being used to read their mail too, meaning you either need a second session hash only for MeFi mail that stays encrypted, or else you need HTTPS across the whole site. And you should worry about whether MeFi mail should be forwarded to users email by default.

Should MetaFilter add support for HTTPS Everywhere throughout the site? Ideally yes, more encrypted traffic is always good. Although maybe those CPU cycles are better spent running a tor relay, not sure. At present, there is a risk that VPN or Tor users could get the session hash hijacked by spammers, etc., but afaik this never happens and the mods would fix it. And realistically the metadata from page sizes would expose what you read here.

An easier solution might be simply explaining that folks desiring private MeFi mail should instead install Jitsi and talk via XMPP (jabber.blah, gtalk facebook chat, etc.).
posted by jeffburdges at 5:15 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Should MetaFilter add support for HTTPS Everywhere throughout the site?

We do! Just turn on secure browsing in your site preferences.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:18 PM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd never noticed that before, thanks! Yey my metafilter is encrypted!
posted by jeffburdges at 5:22 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


"expend your shaming and yelling on the people actively making the world worse off." - Not that they'll listen to you.
posted by Ardiril at 5:23 PM on February 11, 2014


Ideally, you want ECDHE key exchange rather than RSA key exchange, pb. RSA key exchange is not forward-secure. RSA key exchange was a major technical blunder Lavabit made, ditto most sites. See the The Year In Crypto talk at 30c3.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:30 PM on February 11, 2014


Not that they'll listen to you.

Maybe not, but that wasn't his point, Eeyore.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:34 PM on February 11, 2014


We're following the best practices outlined by Qualys SSL Labs. Using ECDHE key exchange leaves us vulnerable to other attacks. Take a look at the previous thread about SSL (linked from preferences) for some discussion around this.

We're not using the latest and greatest version of Apache because we have an odd environment so we're dinged on their report for not supporting TLS 1.2. That's something we'd like to move to. For now we have the best configuration available with the software we're using according to Qualys.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:37 PM on February 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I got his point. "Nobody listens to our emotional reactions, them or us. Boo-hoo."
posted by Ardiril at 8:15 PM on February 11, 2014


Ya got me, ya dirty rats!

now let me go so I can get back to figuring out which end of the maze has the lever for the food button, thanks.
posted by infini at 9:26 PM on February 11, 2014


I got his point. "Nobody listens to our emotional reactions, them or us. Boo-hoo."

No, if that's what you think he said, you completely missed jeffburdges' point. His point was that activists are better off spending their anger and energy on the targets of their protest than on trying to recruit non-activists by shaming.
posted by gingerest at 10:01 PM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


And I think part of the thing he was saying, though he can certainly speak for himself, is that in certain issues there are activists on both (many?) sides and a lot of non-activists in the middle. Many of these non-activists may agree with you even if they don't choose to be activist about a particular topic (I have my own topics I'm an activist about, even here on MeFi). At some level it makes more sense to have activists aggressively interact with the people who are actively pushing the agenda they disagree with and not just hassling the people who already agree with them who are just maybe not doing what you might consider enough to support the cause. Awareness-raising on a topic is a good thing but it's totally not the only thing, there are other things that people can do.

This site has thousands of users many of whom have topics that they care passionately about and/or things in their lives that they badly need. Our non-activist approach to most topics at a site level is actually something we've thought about and not just something that happens because we're busy/tired/disinterested. And, at a more tactical level, these are choices that basically Matt gets to make and he didn't make this one the way some people might have wanted. As mods we have a lot of input but can't do something like this on our own.

So, I totally understand that this is not the outcome that some people might have wanted, and I am totally AOK with homunuculus asking about it. If there's a campaign like this in the future that people feel MeFi should support, giving us a heads up ahead of time would be a useful way to get started.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:27 AM on February 12, 2014


I haven't found much on weaknesses in ECDHE, except for comments that it's ephemeral nature makes it less susceptible to timing attacks that effect similar things. There is ECDHE-RSA that presumably combines them, but maybe I saw TLS 1.2 when reading about that.

I've love it if metafilter participated in more internet protests, but..   You cannot guilt people into protesting because you're trying to harness their creativity and energy, not just get warm bodies on the street. In particular, you want the site admins to work the protest into the layout, like say by placing an image with the ads, editing the db to make the story appear a different color, contain an image, etc. Ain't happening if you're telling folks what to do. You need them to choose to be there.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:14 PM on February 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


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