Twitter has users. Mainstream (Silicon Valley) tech and drug dealers are the only two groups to use that term to describe people. And they're both obsessed with manufacturing addiction and exploiting those people. Calling people users is a form of othering.

Let's do better.

Mastodon doesn't have users. Mastodon has people. Call them members if you must. But not users.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google have users. We have people.

CC @Gargron

@aral @Gargon no, you're fundamentally misrepresenting the nature of this technology as a product intended for use. this not only tacitly validates the stigmatization of addicts, it displaces all blame of harm that any consumer technology does onto this nameless (and hence blameless) elite, as though what SV companies do is somehow different than what tech companies do in NY or anywhere else.

Aral Balkan @aral

@wolf I'm not talking about Silicon Valley as a place but as a model: VC-backed data farmers that monetise people (people farmers). Addiction is a core design criterion when your business model is based on getting as much data as possible which, in turn, is based on how well you can incentivise as much use as possible. Not all tech has that model. In Ethical Technology (, we don't refer to people as users. We call them people.

@aral this isn't a question coming from a position that supports ruthless capitalist endeavors (and that this needs clarifying highlights how disengaged from the problems at hand this polemic is), but how could a plan of action whose entire premise undermines the accumulation of profit be considered a business model?

@aral people use ibuprofen and they use heroin. the motivations for each respective consumers is the difference between satisfying a need and an instantly gratifying desire. consumer technology by a wide margin falls into the latter category, it'd be absurd to claim the innovations funded by VCs get returns because people truly _need_ another iphone app. facebook isn't heroin, but i don't think you can justify it as being non-conspicuous consumption

@aral "ethical design" from how it describes itself sounds oxymoronic, as all three tenets are more PR-friendly incentives to consume products designed "ethically", bypassing the entire point

@wolf It’s the best I could come up with after four years of working on the problem. I look forward to your contributions and, if they’re better, I’d be happy to adopt and use them instead.