Wading into social waters
Recently, we've been introduced to two "Tor Project" Facebook Org pages. Neither of which are run by us at Tor, yet. There was also a Google+ page for a while, too. We currently use a few social media methods, such as mailing lists, pgp web of trust, internet relay chat, Identi.ca, and Twitter. Some people are very upset Tor is seemingly supporting Facebook, Google+ and others.
We're expanding into Facebook, Google+, Reddit, and others because our users are asking for it. There are existing Tor communities in many places, and we don't need to formally be at them all. It's great when individuals step up to the challenge and represent Tor in positive ways. However, as people join these communities, they are looking for a real discussion with us. For many people, these platforms are the primary means of communication.
We do have some concerns about social media sites. Let's enumerate these concerns.
- Current social media solutions don't respect user privacy, however it's all we have today. With buttons like "+1", "Like", and "Tweet this" strewn about websites, tracking your normal web activity, Tor is at least one solution to help you stop this global tracking. We believe you should be fully in control of your own data and metadata.
- The users are currently using these systems in very unsafe ways. We can join the system and set up a presence with details about how to use these systems more safely--or if they cannot be used safely at all. The goal is to educate people.The EFF has an explanation of these risks as well.
- We can get our message out to people and have a discussion with them, where they are, even though we don't control the medium and risk getting kicked off the system.
- Some are impersonating us now, and not at the quality level we want to see. A bad answer or impression from a fake Tor is worse than no answer at all.
Why don't we write our own?
Writing and deploying our own social media system is beyond the scope of our mission. However, tor can provide an anonymous base for such a system. We have hope for systems like Diaspora, tent, and FreedomBox.