The Tech Industry Shows Their True Colors On Individual Freedom, And What We Can Do About It...

Build guns, mine crypto...

A few days ago, cloud-based customer relationship management software provider Salesforce announced they would no longer do business withthose who sell “certain types” of guns and accessories.

Though each business is free to conduct transactions with whomever they wish, the staggering size of the tech titans make this a daunting challenge for the firearms industry. From web hosts, to payment processors, to e-commerce platforms, to social media, the industry has become very dependant on “the cloud”…

So, what’s the solution?

Competition And Adversity Breed Innovation

OK, the simple fact is that it does suck when your chosen provider of payment processing/social media/ecommerce decides to virtue signal and discontinue doing business with you. When you really drill down to it, it’s their right as private entities. Though there is an offshoot of libertarian thought promulgated by esoteric-and-defunct bookseller Loompanics who argues that the libertarian doctrine for corporations is misguided, since corporations only exist now by government fiat. But that’s for another blog and another day.

Anyway, yeah, the crappy thing is that Facebook, Square, Wix, Google, Twitter, Salesforce, and so on, can force you off their platform for any reason, or no reason at all. Asking the government for help is a double-edge sword. A government big enough to force Facebook to accept certain content is a government that’s too big for the comfort of anyone who supports the right to keep and bear arms. We can’t support the right of the baker to bake the cake for only certain people, then demand armed agents of the State frog-march Zuckerberg to the supermax just because we can’t post on his website. By that metric someone could turn it around on me and force me to post Everytown blather on this very blog.

So, What’s Out There?

I’m thinking of making this into an evolving list. But for now, I’ll break it down into somewhat-coherent sections of gun-friendly technology providers and solutions.

Social Networks

Gab has been around since August of 2016. Launched to be a free-speech alternative to Twitter, thus far Gab has been relatively censorship-free. Yes, you will run into genuinely hateful content on Gab. It’s up to you to look at it or not. There’s no “advertising” as of yet, but you can become a “pro” user by paying a few bucks. You get longer posts and things like that. They don’t frown on self-promotion either, and there’s no algorithm which prioritizes paid users. There’s an Android app that can be side-loaded. There’s no iOS app since Apple refused them because their feelings got hurt. However, you can use their mobile UI at gab.com, which is actually very decent.

Parler (pronounced “par-lay”) Much like Gab, Parler was setup in 2018 as an free speech alternative to Twitter. To be honest, it started off very badly. Crashed more times than not, and it was pretty unusable. Milo was an early user of it, but then went away. When Facebook banned him, he returned and uses it regularly. I went back recently and was pleasantly surprised to see that the app works and the desktop site is fantastic.

Telegram Yeah yeah yeah it’s made by Russians, but whatever. Collude this. Anyways, Telegram started off in 2013 as an independent and security-conscious alternative to WhatsApp. Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram evolved into more than a chat program. Users can set up broadcast channels (basically microblogs), and massive group chats as well. There’s well over 200 million Telegram users.

MeWe started in 2012, ostensibly when founder Mark Weinstein heard Zuckerberg call privacy a “social norm of the past”. MeWe has been going along strong since then. It’s super privacy-centric and has the same concepts as Facebook, with pages, groups, and so forth. I don’t use it often, but maybe you’ll get some mileage out of it.

GoWild is a mobile-only app geared towards hunters and outdoorsmen. It’s like Instagram with some blog features laid in. It’s very well-engineered, and definitely firearms-friendly. Like I mentioned, it’s hunter-centric but they have zero issues with other gun content. There’s a maybe-unspoken rule about using your real name there, but those are the breaks I guess. It’s ad-supported and you’ll usually get notifications when they do a contest with a firearms company or hunting accessories company. Ownership seems cool about shameless self-promotion, i.e. if you link to your own stuff.

My biggest concern with the above services is that they are all free (albeit some have paid tiers) so I’m concerned about how principled they are, espeically when the bills need to be paid. Like with anything, buyer beware.

Content Hosting/Publication

LBRY is a platform, sure. It’s also a protocol. The code that makes LBRY go is open-source, so you can build your own LBRY if you want. The real magic is that your videos are hosted on a blockchain (yep, like Bitcoin), so, in layman’s terms, LBRY could get nuked tomorrow, but your content is still around. You’d just have to build an interface for it. Barring a black hole or EMP, the LBRY blockchain is pretty permanent. Completely decentralized, which fits in the creators’ mission of freedom of speech.

Plus you can earn money participating. You are paid in LBC. As of this writing, each LBC is worth $0.034, and trending upward. LBRY the app lets you upload for free, but charges miniscule amounts to do things like branding and vanity links. You can also set prices on your own content, i.e. spend 5 LBC to see a video about proper gun cleaning. LBRY themselves seem to be OK with gun content, their creators gave me a thumbs-up when I posted some machine gun fun.

From a practical perspective, the videos stream A-OK, though with larger files, there is some buffering as they are retrieved from the blockchain. Participation is hard to gauge, since by definition it’s relatively anonymous. Some Yotubers who got banned, like Lauren Southern, Loomer, and so forth, are posting via LBRY as a backup.

Bitchute is basically a streaming torrent site. Videos are hosted in a peer-to-peer fashion. Bitchute is just the interface. Ironically it was developed in the UK, which seems hell-bent on catching up to 1984 these days. Adversity breeds innovation I guess. There’s plenty of gun content there, and thus far there’s few reports of content being deplatformed. You can also solicit for and receive payments for your work.

Full30 is basically “gun Youtube”. There’s no modern magic behind it. There’s advertising and the whole nine yards. Full30 works and it’s stable. Unfortunately it seems thus far it’s only open to the cool kids.

Webhosting

You do have your own website, right? Relying on someone else’s social networks exclusively is a folly. With webhosting, make sure the host doesn’t prohibit sites that sell firearms. Aside from that, go with whatever works for you. But have a plan B. If you are on Bluehost as a registrar and host, have a fallback to Linode or something. If you are on Microsoft Azure, have Amazon AWS as a fallback. To be honest I haven’t found any webhosts that I can explicitly trust near 100% yet to recommend as safe.

There’s some really crazy blockchain-based hosting schemes like Zeronet that are looking promising though.

Ecommerce

As of right now, the major “one-click and start selling” providers such as WIX, Square, and Shopify have all frozen out the firearms industry. The next best thing is to roll your own. It requires work and maybe hiring a developer, but using self-hosted ecommerce plugins (not just routing through a third party)on your blog architecture of choice is the way to go. The key is to reduce your unstable outside dependencies. You want to be able to see and run the code yourself. For example, don’t go to wordpress.org and create a site. Download Wordpress to your local computer, then upload it to your own webhost account, and configure from there. This all takes work, but the procedures are very well-documented. If you can read, you can setup a self-hosted ecommerce platform.

The linchpin of course is payment processing. At this moment, none of the big processors have frozen out specific players in the firearms industry. You’re pretty safe setting up a processing account through authorize.net. However, the tricky part right now is banking. Your funds hit the gateway at authorize.net, get processed by First Data or Heartland, and then they have to go to a bank. Citi is out, and so is Chase. Both are very hostile to individual rights and firearms. Bank of America? Forget it. They may as well be Bank of the EU at this point. The remaining biggie, Wells Fargo, seems to be a safe bet for now. It’s also worth looking to see if your local credit union or regional bank can receive funds from the payment processor. Again, work, but those are the breaks.

And yes, set yourself up to accept cryptocurrency. Bitcoin had a helluva 2018 and 2019 but is showing signs of recovery. Other currencies are relatively stable. And there’s new crypto concepts coming out all the time. The hype is over, so now the real work can begin. Plus, the underlying blockchain concepts are very useful for other things. The weak point of accepting crypto is the exchanges and the wallets. The “crypto” part goes away when you use a big service like Coinbase. To get around that, you need to have your own wallet. Copay comes to mind. You’ll need a developer or the time to do yourself.

Also, maybe keeping a cash drawer around is advisable.

Other Shit

SuiteCRM is basically an open-source version of Salesforce you can develop and host on your own. The people running SuiteCRM can’t really do much if you’re just running their code on your own. They’re even nice enough to provide an “image” where you can just burn/push to a bootable drive and it’ll fit nicely on your own hardware.

Other Vulnerabilites

You can roll your own server, your own ecommerce, host your content on a blockchain, and have your own CRM box in your back office. But it’s all for naught if there’s other weak points.

Right now, the other vulnerable spots are the carriers. Now your ISP and your cell phone provider are bound by decades of tort law, case law, and tradition. They can’t censor content they don’t like. Even without said laws, it’s bad business. It’s not like Facebook censoring gun content. If T-Mobile censored gun content, they’d be admitting to mass surveillance of the highest order. Essentially they’d be wiretapping every bit of communications going through their infrastructure, and censoring it. Yeah, they probably do anyways, but they aren’t actively censoring anything. That’s why end-to-end encryption is key (yeah this site isn’t https, but I’ll fix that) - they can’t censor what they can’t read.

It’s one thing to be a good trigger-puller. I want to be one myself. It’s a very useful skill. However, that skill is pretty ineffective when the enemy pulling their “trigger” is thousands of miles away. In an instant, they can potentially digitally “freeze” your life just for having an opinion. A big-time gun guy like Noir could have his digital footprint reduced to near-zero in less than 24 hours. I hope I’m mistaken, but I don’t see him participating outside of Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter. I understand challenging the enemy on their own turf has it’s uses, but you need a plan B. I’m hoping a lot of my friends and heroes in the online world of individual rights fans read this article. I think it’s important. I don’t have all the answers, but I can point you in the right direction.

The Early Internet Pioneers Were Against The Establishment

Sure, the internet was borne of an effort to make a decentralized computer network resistant to enemy attack. Damage a node, and the information takes another path. The classic saying was that the internet “interpreted censorship as damage and routed around it”. Those early pioneers were social misfits, and stubborn individualists. Open-source advocates like Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and Eric S Raymond (who is actually an enthusiastic 2A supporter) railed against government and big business alike regulating information. Steve Jobs, in his early years at least, was definitely against the grain. It’s their spirit that we should look to in our fight against the current crop of “hackers”, who are just spoiled suburbanites who were handed a laptop and a scholarship and didn’t have to really work for much.

Why join the navy if you can be a pirate? - Steve Jobs

(no offense to any of my Navy readers, of course!)

My Channels On Various “New” Networks

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RGG On MeWe
RGG on LBRY/Spee.ch - video on a blockchain - no servers to take down. FYI - it’s experimental.

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A reminder

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