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Re: [tor-talk] Giving Hidden Services some love

On 12/31/2014 11:53 PM, Scott Arciszewski wrote:
Trigger warning: This entire reply is going to be shameless (though
non-profit) self-promotion.

The current state of diversity in Onion Land is disappointing. So many of
the sites still online emphasize things like drugs, porn, and hacking. I
think everyone would benefit from a wider swath of the population getting
involved in hosting hidden services.

tldr; this is why Facebook's hidden service is so important.

This has long been a chicken-or-egg problem. A general audience (i.e., not digital security specialists) must know what hidden services do before they get involved in hosting hidden services (or even using them, for that matter). But to know what hidden services do, a general audience must be able to use hidden services that interest them. If there aren't any that interest them, then consequently there's no demand for anyone to create them. So few people know what they do, outside of "hacking" and "omg darknet".

So yes, an Onion Land with publicly navigable sites that are predominantly shady and disgusting hasn't encouraged public participation. (No matter how clever the tech is, btw.) But an Onion Land with publicly navigable sites that are shady and disgusting, _plus_ a few well-known socially expedient services-- well, that's just another way to say "the internet". Even if it's just the toe-dip of Facebook's location anonymity, that's enough for most people to develop an initial, practical understanding of what the readers of this list know to be one of the fundamental principles of 21st century civil rights.

That logic also provides a nice "golden rule" symmetry for free software privacy advocates. If you truly grasp the theory behind online anonymity despite all the shady onion sites out there, then congratulations: you understand why a user of a shady service like Facebook also benefits by using it over Tor. (And how the Tor network benefits from that use, too.) So when faced with inarticulate skepticism, be lazy: tell people, "Well, Facebook uses it." Then trust them to take the most important step: to exercise their freedom to run the program, for any purpose.

And who knows, maybe someday they'll modify their behavior and distribute that modified behavior to others.

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