you started out as a harmless geek’s wet dream, a site for male college students to rate how sexy they found the women studying with them. You’ve grown up since then, and are now motivated not by adolescent lust but corporate greed. You’ve managed to make headlines as the enabler of genocide, the manipulator of elections, and posing an unprecedented danger to human rights – among the lesser counts of privacy violation, publishing hate speech, and outright lying to politicians, the press and the public.
Now I cannot know if all this is down to sheer recklessness or just incompetence. For all I know there might be thousands of honest, upright, well-meaning people working for you, all blameless, all just doing their job, and perhaps it is just “the circumstances”, or “a few bad apples”, or “unfortunate events” that lead to all the pain and suffering that Facebook is responsible for.
But I have to judge you as one giant organism. I cannot separate the good from the bad. Facebook is one big black box and it touches things and they turn to ashes.
I don’t want OSM to turn to ashes. So please, Facebook, stop touching OSM. You’ve already done a lot of damage in your bumbling and lying first encounters with us, where you imported tons of computer-generated data and then claimed to know nothing about it. We know you’ve set a couple of untrained college kids to do this, given them free rein to disrupt OSM on your payroll. You’ve now switched to using individuals as conduit for your contributions through your “Map with AI” efforts, never giving the wider OSM community a chance to vet this dangerous approach, but nonetheless publicly claiming you were doing this “with OpenStreetMap”. You are not: you are doing this to OpenStreetMap, and you don’t care what it does to our project.
On top of all this, now you’re sending us one of your employees to stand for election to the OSMF board, and he doesn’t even pretend to separate OSMF’s from Facebook’s goals, saying: “A candidate working in a company like FB and not specifically trying to disconnect OSM involvement from their day job is a potentially weird new thing” – sadly neither blatant power grabs nor an absolute blindness to conflict of interest are weird, or new.
You do not understand OpenStreetMap, and your goals as an organisation are fundamentally different from those of OpenStreetMap. You will destroy it, and all the good people that might be working for you will sheepishly say “but we did have good intentions”. They will say that they couldn’t possibly know OSM would turn to ashes under Facebook’s touch, just as they couldn’t possibly know Facebook would be aiding genocide, manipulate elections, or threaten human rights.
You can have the data, but if you really want this project to have a healthy future, stay out of how we make the data.
a person without a Facebook account.