The other day I saw a poll asking “what made you stay at mastodon”. Choices were like “my friends are here”, “dunno, I just stayed”, or some specific good aspects of this place. That was rather ironic as my reason which is also most Chinese users’ reason, is not listed. To this English speaking world, it’s beyond imagination for many that people tooting in Mandarin would most likely call themselves “cyber refugee”. Because we had nowhere to go. Because everywhere was censored and we had to flee.

I hope people understand that when we talk about censorship we are thinking of different things. While some may think erotic stuff or swear words got censored is annoying, other may get sentenced to 3 years in prison just because they logged on Twitter and reposted only. Whoever trying to use that “all lives got censored/ some westerners too” rubbish to tell me something they think they know so well can f*cough. It's widely the same with Westerners. There are massive contingents of the Fediverse and Fedi users who utilize decentralized, federated technology because of censorship and repression within the West and across Western social media networks.

@seven12 is that me saying I’m in a lot of pain I have a home I can’t go back and you telling me yeah yeah many westerners are the same >many that people tooting in Mandarin would most likely call themselves “cyber refugee”. Because we had nowhere to go. Because everywhere was censored and we had to flee.

Yes, I'm saying it's the same. Unless, you misspoke and created confusion.

many that people tooting in Mandarin would most likely call themselves “cyber refugee”

You use the term "cyber refugee", which indicates being a refugee within the capacity of the internet and internet communications (vs. an actual, physical refugee).

Because we had nowhere to go. Because everywhere was censored and we had to flee.

And it's the same in the West. If you don't think that networks a la Twitter, Facebook, Google, et al. are utilized by Western geopolitical entities in the same way that Baidu or QQ or Weibo in China is utilized by the PRC/CCP then you are naive (no offense). All these networks, be they in China or in the West, are first and foremost methods of citizen monitoring and information control. I am telling you: massive quantities of Fediverse users are "cyber refugees" because they were expunged from mainstream networks due to ideological or political dissidence. So, they created their own Fediverse instances or joined preexisting Fediverse instances where they could freely express their views and retain some control over their own data and privacy.

@seven12 how can you type this much in one toot now I envy you more. I understand what you mean. If you are one of the westerners you said who share the same sort of pain I feel then I’d like to listen to your story and hug you. But you know what, people who can feel my pain won’t say something like that just to show off “hey I’m well acknowledged and that’s the whole point of decentralised networks”. Did the police call your mother last night? Ours did.

@jsddz @seven12 When Westerners talk about “censorship and repression” on the Internet they don’t have any idea what it’s like in China… Sure you can be sympathetic but maybe do some research before falsely correlating the plight of Chinese netizens to Twitter/Facebook deleting your posts because they are against community guidelines (and sure some guidelines might be unreasonable but at least no one is causing you physical harm)

@consonantia @seven12 or at least learn the one simple sentence “I’m sorry to hear that” before typing shit to announce you “understand their struggle” ugh. You know nothing, Jon Snow. This is a dead conversation considering OP blocked me. That being said, I've lived in China for years (prior to COVID fucking everything up) and I now reside in the West (where I'm from). I've had friends in the US, the UK, and DE have law enforcement and intelligent agencies show up at their doors to "conversation" with them. I have a friend in the UK who is currently in prison. All of this over political dissent or ideology deemed incongruent with the neoliberal world order. We are no better than the PRC. In many respect, we're worse than the PRC, because at least the PRC and the CCP are somewhat honest in the boldness and transparency of their repression and censorship. Everybody in China knows and accepts that the news they see is run through state censors and fermented with propaganda. Everybody knows that social media is monitored and that police can and will come to your home to try and interrogate you or bring you to a station for questioning if you deviate openly and dramatically from the national or ideological lines. In the West, the same takes place, but it's intentionally masked through countless different levels of obfuscation and the average Westerner "drinks the kool-aide" essentially without question. The intelligence apparatuses exist ubiquitously everywhere and permeate everything, and the data ingested and the narratives disseminated are expertly utilized to maintain surveillance and control. In the West, we just don't hear about it, or we ignore it, or we assume it's deserved, or we otherwise just accept its existence under the belief that it will never affect us (which, if you're asleep or towing the party lines of the times, it probably won't [in a repressive sense]).

For what it's worth, I had police in China looking for me, another friend vanished (although he
was actively doing illegal shit), and my best mate was held at the airport by police, interrogated, and almost denied exiting the country. It's kind of insulting to be told that I'm "westernsplaining" shit as though I don't know what I'm talking about or as if I haven't been waist deep in shit for years. Western surveillance and information control/warfare are so well evolved and developed that it's genuinely blackpilling and nightmare inducing to even think about. And it's so good, in fact, that Westerners either won't accept it exists, deny it entirely, or otherwise defect to things like "yeah sure BUT IN x COUNTRY".

This stuff exists everywhere. You can find yourself in prison in European countries for saying a few words. And the same exists in China. But because China is portrayed like some authoritarian boogeyman state and the West exists as "liberal democracies" somehow it's different or okay or acceptable.

I'm not saying China isn't bad. I know China is bad. We all know China is bad. I almost ended up arrest, deported, or both. They knew who I was, where I lived, who I worked for, everything, and police were going around to all these places with my picture asking about me. The difference is that it's blatantly bad. It's not obfuscated. It's not veiled or dressed up in pretty, flowering bullshit. Nobody lives under any illusions (at least, almost nobody that I knew).

All I was saying was that it's shitty everywhere. Welcome to the party. Decentralized networking on self-hosted infrastructure and internal data retention + encryption will at least allow the formation of safe enclaves for those facing repression and censorship. And I welcome all, and support all, and empathize with all.

But I'm just a dumb Westerner I guess who has no right to talk about any of this. Eh? Also, let's not forget that OP specifically said "cyber refugee". Not "refugee". So, my point still stands. If we want to talk about having to leave countries where people have built lives, the US (where I live currently) is the third country I've had to move to, and not by choice. My family walked away from everything moving to the US, and I basically lost everything I had built up when I had to leave China, only to start from essentially scratch outside of having family support while in the depths of COVID.

Sorry, but getting hit with flak from strangers on the internet because of baseless prejudices and assumptions made over petty knee-jerk disagreements to my responses re "cyber refugee" status as it relates to the Fediverse and wider networking/surveillance+intelligence apparatuses sort of ticks a nerve.

@seven12 "all of this over political dissent or ideology deemed incongruent with the neoliberal world order" makes me wonder what kind of speech that was. I live in the US and I see right-wing/anti-intellectual/white supremacist hate speech online all the time. And let's say even if the authorities went after your friends unjustly due to their online posts, the OP's toot isn't really the right place to expound your personal experience. It feels like saying "All Lives Matter" during a BLM march

@seven12 and of course you probably disagree or don't even see any problem in saying ALM due to your "dissent against neoliberal world order". And like the OP said, you could've at least started your initial reply by saying "I am sorry to hear that." Without acknowledging that in the first place you're basically hijacking the post to make it about the West (even when valid, it is still rude). And again, I am just very doubtful of what kind of things your friends said got them in trouble.

@seven12 I have friends who were in Facebook jail for their liberal posts, but no police had gone after them. I wonder what would it take for the police to come after you for something you post online in the West :ablobthinkingeyes: So now you're defending the surveillance + police states existent in the West? tf you bringing BLM into this for? I'm expounding my personal experiences because my personality and the credentials of my experience got put on blast for stating an opinion. lol

@seven12 you still haven’t answered what kind of speech got your friends into trouble, and honestly at this point I don’t even want to know. This conversation can end here.

@seven12 @jsddz That sounds very westernsplain to me. All I see is a person trying to dismiss peoples’ experience of being persecuted. Pls don’t tell people what they are experiencing.

I find it’s misleading to compare Twitter, FB with SNSs like QQ & Weibo. Yet Twitter censor those speech which violates other peoples’ freedom of speech; while people in latter platforms does not have freedom of speech at all.

All I see from your condescending tongue is that “I know more” and “my pain is more important”. (No offense)

@jsddz Not to mention that some people complain about getting censored because they posted hate speech or content that means harm to innocent people... I always take "freedom of speech" with a grain of salt in the English-speaking world because some people's definition of that phrase is pretty twisted :ablobthinkingeyes:

@jsddz from a Russian who is afraid to post full thoughts even here

Big Solidarity 💚

@jsddz I cannot claim to understand what this feels like or how deep the feeling runs, but I am aware that what we call censorship is nothing to what you live with.

@eivind @jsddz But isn't that mostly because a lot of people call everything censorship by now?

@morre @jsddz I can't speak for that, but I understand what you mean: Many people yell "censorship!" for whatever reasons.

@jsddz I'm sorry you guys have to put up with all that, although I hope you all are enjoying your stay on Mastodon

@jsddz this is, amongst many other reasons, why we need #FOSS, #ActivtiyPub and #OpenStandards in general. Gotta get the power of our speech to the hands of the people

@jsddz Why, do you think, is Mastodon/the fediverse not censored? Because it's impossible/difficult due to the distributed nature? Or because it's not considered important/big enough?

@marian let’s say different levels of censorship. I mentioned one person’s name on Weibo and the police called my mother. Mastodon doesn’t have that level of humiliation and threat as long as we keep it out of CCP’s touch. That’s why on a lot of Chinese users bio writes “do not repost to any other Chinese platforms”.

@jsddz @marian You probably know this but still be careful, things posted on mastodon may be harder to find, but it's still public, a motivated cop can find it
Wish you well 🧡, it's fucked up having to hide like that

@jsddz it was my poll, and yes, the poll concentrated on interaction dynamics, because we only have four poll options available so you really have to concentrate on some particular aspect if you're going to have meaningful polls.

which doesn't mean that censorship, control, commercialism, software politics or any other political thing that many people underlined in comments are not valid reasons, it's just that they'd need their own poll to get the attention they deserve.

@Stoori yes I didn’t have any intention of judging your poll. I fully respect it and I had no right to ask every poll I see to be political. It was just my personal perspective and I meant no offence. I like how people stay here because of their friends and because they like this platform. Just wanted to raise something that some people may not know.

@jsddz yeah, it was a good point to raise! i got so many free-word answers to that poll too, that i could make a follow-up poll with more options soon. :)

@jsddz I have seen a lot of English speaking LGBTQ+ people say they were staying on Mastodon because it was safer for them.
They are obviously not fleeing from the same things than you, but would you say their situation are mostly similar or different than yours ?

@StrepsipZerg I’m not sure if you have heard that a lot of social media accounts/groups on Chinese platforms dedicated to LGBTQ+ and gender issues were suspended last year. It’s vital that LGBTQ+ people have a safe space where they could bond with people in the community and support each other. I appreciate those instances specifically built for these communities. I am aware in certain countries, these people are under threat as well. For us, a dictator makes everything even worse.

@jsddz I was aware that your government is generally hostile towards these communities, I didn't know the details though.
My point was that I have seen a lot of people say they were staying on Masto for political safety reasons, rather than it being "just nice", even in the english speaking world. That surely has to do with the communities I am part of, and I don't doubt there the big bias that you point at (white people being generally unaware of political oppression).

@jsddz I can't really manage to phrase my thoughts in a satisfying manner, so I will clarify that my point is really not to say everybody has it as bad as you.
I just wasn't aware the "cyber-refugee" part of mastodon was not common knowledge, as it's a part of how it was presented to me.
But I supposed I should not be surprised that (white )people disregard the political part of this tool/space.

@StrepsipZerg yeah I got what you mean. Safe can mean not being harassed, discriminated, or not being monitored or threaten by an authoritarian rule. For Chinese, we can’t type out officals’ names, we can’t mention “government” or “feminism” or “freedom of speech” etc. The Chinese gov invested a lot of money on technology in censoring key words and deleting posts and accounts. And people got detained or arrested for whatever crime they say it is. That’s what we face on a daily basis.

@jsddz Yes, I understand you clearly face a whole different scale of unsafety.
I'm very glad that you have a safer space here, I hope it stays like this.
Thanks a lot for the conversation, you are very kind.

@StrepsipZerg So are you. Thank you for trying to put words in your best way. I appreciated your efforts and awareness. Have a lovely day.

@jsddz I guess it's mostly up to you to control what information you let out, but if you know of a "guide" on how to interact with cyber-refugees without putting them in danger, I would be interested.
I hope you have a nice day too !

@jsddz free speech, which is taken for granted in the West, but was a right won at high cost, and one that still needs to be defended.

@jsddz thanks for saying this, I didn't realize this was serving in that capacity in such a meaningful way.

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