Raspberry Pi Wants You To CHILL

Posted on Friday, Dec 16, 2022 by Ned Bellavance

Featured in this episode of Chaos Lever

It’s one thing to fail to read the room when you make an announcement. It’s quite another to ignore the concerns of everyone involved, be incredibly condescending to an entire community, and burn up social trust in an afternoon. Apparently the social media manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation is a bit of an overachiever.

It all started innocently enough with the announcement that a former UK police officer had joined the foundation as their maker-in-residence. I get that some folks are less than jazzed with the police these days, but surely that shouldn’t set off alarm bells. Except he was a former technical surveillance officer who specialized in using Raspberry Pi boards, among other things, to covertly spy on his intended targets. You could understand why that might make some folks a bit uneasy. Maybe he used all his devices to go after really bad people, but at the same time the community clearly was a bit put off by knowing that someone dedicated to making surveillance equipment would be embedded at the foundation.

Even then, the announcement and concerns from the community could have been handled by someone with a deft hand. Instead we had a social media manager whose flippant responses ranged from telling folks to just CHILL, to blocking accounts offering critical feedback, to insulting posters and telling them to unfollow if they don’t like it.

The interactions happened over both Twitter and Mastodon, with the latter case involving the private Mastodon instance run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation itself. The result was that the instance ended up on the FediBlock list and a myriad of instances in the Fediverse started blocking the entire foundation instance. There’s a great case study posted on Eiara that details the timeline and reaction from the Mastodon community. It’s an interesting view on how the power dynamics are shifted on Mastodon, and a great example of how not to manage your social media accounts.