It’s not as if GitHub isn’t already moderately converged, but the Microsoft acquisition of it is unlikely to make things any less subject to converged policing:
AFTER A WEEKEND of rumors, Microsoft officially announced Monday that it will acquire the code repository site GitHub for $7.5 billion in stock. The platform is an important resource for some 28 million developers and home to billions of lines of open source code. It’s in many ways a natural fit for Microsoft, which has in recent years warmed up to open source.
But the beloved developer platform may also introduce moderation headaches. Microsoft will soon need to formally decide what will happen to the many GitHub repositories that conflict with its own interests. The tech giant will face similar content moderations challenges that peers like Facebook and Google have, but with code instead of speech.
Created over a decade ago, GitHub is where developers at nearly every major software organization, from Google to NASA, collaborate. It hosts projects as diverse as Bitcoin’s code and all of the German government’s laws and regulations. The platform functions as a kind of social network for coders; their contributions to the site can serve as a stand-in for a traditional resume. Anyone can publish open source code to GitHub for free; the platform makes money by charging individuals and corporations to keep their code private.
GitHub’s 85 million repositories help to make it one of the world’s most popular websites. They include, however, projects that GitHub’s new owner might take issue with…. “GitHub isn’t a perfect defender of censorship, but they still host Tiananmen Square stuff. That’s likely to disappear under Microsoft,” says Rob Graham, CEO of Errata Security, who helped trace the 2015 DDOS attack to China. GitHub has also been censored in a number of other countries where Microsoft has business interests, including Russia and India.
This is one of the challenges facing Alt-Tech. The conventional startup objective of selling out to a tech company for billions conflicts with the objective of creating something that is not subject to corpocracy and convergence. On the plus side, it should mean that there will tend to be fewer Silicon Valley snake oil salesmen pushing their sites on the Right.