Fediverse – Open self-empowering technologies for today and tomorrow
By André Menrath. Written in the course of the 2021 reworks festival in Thessaloniki (greece)
5 min read
What are social networks?
- You want to be able to comment, boost, share, like and make subscriptions to your favourite creators.
- You want to publish content (text, audio, video…) in the internet.
- This should not require any special technical knowledge, like hosting your own website.
But does this mean that we all must register on a specific provider and accept it’s term of services?
Why should we stop using conventional social networks?
- Why does facebook and co exist? – They want to make profit.
- How are they making profit? – They run ads.
- More specific? – They run targeted, personalized ads: different ads for different users: Micro-Targeting. The product they sell is the change of our behaviour (at least in a predicted way – further read: Surveillance Capitalism). In orther to optimize this process they use every information of how we use the platform (behavioural surplus). The more we use these platforms, the more their product gets worth.
Threat to our democracy
We have lost control over what information is presented to us. Their algoritm decides, not do you. The algoritm aims for their profit, not for your well-being. But why is this dangerous?
- It is used for example frequently in political elections. Different interest groups see different campaigns and informations from the same party! This may lead to that parties who serve minorities get majorites in elections just because they invest a lot of money in their campaigns this way. #Brexit #Trump #Germany2021 #CambridgeAnalytica
- Toxic debate culture by design: Because Fake news spread faster than true content, same with extreme positions. It is due to the emotions it arrises. Their algoritms support this as a side effect, because it is good for their business. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-whistleblower-60-minutes-highlights-2021-10-03/. This shatters the unity of our society.
Danger to our Health
- Self-Esteem: see study of instagram on teenage-girls
- Addictive: Most People spend more time online than they actually want. It is designed that way. The more we interact on their platform the more precise their profiles of us will be. And of course in that way the micro-targeted ads are likely more successful.
- You have to be on facebook in order to interact or even see information there.
- If you post instagram you force others to use it as well.
The Fediverse: A possible solution
Alex Gleason © 2021. Licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0
- It’s not a specific platform or service but rather a structure (like E-Mail)
- Fediverse: The network (Federated Universe)
- ActivityPub: Most important standardized protocol: defines how the technical communication flows (For E-Mail: the network and the protocoll usually has the same name: “E-Mail”)
- Instance: A specific node of the network: a website = platform = community
- Actor: A Profile in the Fediverse: @firstname.lastname@example.org
Most important platform-types:
Why are there different ones: Different platforms for different type of content and for different type of users (passive/active).
If you are new to the fediverse mastodon is the best choise, unless you are an artist creating mostly a certain media type or you are a team organizing events.
- Mastodon/Plemora (Twitter) https://joinmastodon.org/communities
- PeerTube (YouTube) https://instances.joinpeertube.org/instances
- Funkwhale (music, podcasts)
- Friendica (facebook)
- Mobilizon (facebook-events) https://joinmobilizon.org
- Pixelfed (instagram) https://fedidb.org/software/pixelfed
- Plume/Writefreely (blog, long texts)
- Control of information flow (chronological). Only you can personalize it!
- No Lock-In
- Not that addictive by design: Made for users, not for the bank accounts of the people who are running the platform. As less social features as necessary! That means, that what we usually wanted to look up is what we should do. We should not waste our time on the computer.
- Each Community/Instance can define its own rules (might also be contra!)
- Open-Source and libre software
- Content creators keep the rights to their uploads.
- Everyone can run their own instance, even extremist groups.
- Each instance has to fund their running costs themselves (but they are very low, few euros for ~100 users)
- Statistics are not that detailed about the coverage/scope of your audience, but thats by design: privacy!
- Overall statistics are inaccurate: https://the-federation.info/
How to make that migration?
Migration won’t be done at once, it will be slow.
For content creators
- Information: Advertise your Fediverse address as your primary point of social media communication (even if it isn’t yet)
- Cross-Posting: Post on both, conventional social networks as well as in the fediverse. Automatic solution for twitter and mastodon: https://crossposter.masto.donte.com.br/ exists. In PeerTube direct import of YouTube videos is possible...
- Making Fediverse more exlusive: only interact (e.g. reply to comments) in the fediverse, only keep crossposting your most important posts
- Archive conventional accounts: Stop posting on conventional social networks, only link to your website and the fediverse
For mostly readers which want to interact
Get your mastodon account right ahead and tell your favourite content creators about the fediverse.
For readers who don’t want to interact
No account is needed. All Fediverse platforms support traditional subscription protocols like RSS. For the events on Mobilizon a direct subscription to a calendar on your device is also possible via iCal.
Using the Fediverse: Artist point of view regarding monetization
- Fediverse is not a place for selling (sequel.space is an exteption)
- Place for sharing
- Trust in your audience