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I feel like I don't explicitly state this often enough, but I want to see a future where most people are on federated social networks. Mastodon, Pleroma, Misskey, etc, instead of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

@Gargron

This future could be around the corner ... I wish though that at least some Mastodon instances would also be able to integrate with identi.ca and other Pump.io instances

@Gargron (they'll probably still hang mostly around two or three instances)

@Gargron I don't care so much about federated or not, but I want the advertising and investor money out of our social lives. It poisons everything, and it has thoroughly poisoned the big social networks. And the fediverse is the best available alternative at the moment.

@WAHa_06x36 @Gargron

A centralised site can be sold to investors, a federated decentralised network can't.

@switchingsocial

The way this will end up is with federated networks… for a while, then there will be mastodon's answer to Gmail, where everyone will gravitate to the provider spending the most money on marketing.

@Gargron

@61 @Gargron

Gmail doesn't have the same network effect as Facebook or Twitter. People can more easily switching to alternatives from Gmail.

Even in this situation, decentralised is still better because it leaves the door wider open for alternatives.

@switchingsocial
It was just an example of how even in the face of #federation you can get people to gravitate towards one particular provider, given enough #marketing #money.

Take #slack for example, a glorified #irc server, or #whatsapp, #telegram and all the rest of garden-walled #xmpp implementations.

We need to do something different to break that cycle. I don't know what the solution is but it will be #social / #political, not #technical.

@Gargron

@61

Yup, I agree.

One tech idea is having peer-to-peer instead of servers, such as Scuttlebutt and Briar?

But yes, the bulk of the solution has to come from tougher regulation. Newspapers used to be heavily regulated to prevent monopolies and abuse of power. There should be a recognition that social media has become even more powerful than papers were.

In the mean time, I guess we just have to do the best we can with the tools available.

@switchingsocial
#Regulation can only take you so far and is vulnerable to the same type of dynamics as markets are (#lobbying is a specialised form of #marketing).

Not saying it is not helpful or necessary but the real revolution has to be in social attitudes.

In this respect, remember that #change always comes from a determined minority.

@61

One concern is that social attitudes are being artificially manipulated through unregulated social media and particularly hypertargeted advertising.

So, in a way regulation and social attitudes may not be such separate issues.

@switchingsocial

But are they? We have heard much about it but I'm unconvinced that, if anything, it does more than reaffirm people in their preexisting opinions thus polarising discourse. I would be grateful for any pointers to quality academic research on the subject.

@61

Polarising people is exactly the social change I mean, it divides people from each other and makes rational discourse more difficult.

I am not an academic but my understanding is that Facebook is less than forthcoming about opening its order books to outside researchers, particularly on political topics :/

@switchingsocial

Hyper targeted #advertising is seeing ads for vacuum cleaners half an hour after you bought one and moved on to watch cat videos. In other words: naff stuff.

Have you ever tried selling anything via #adwords or so? It doesn't work. 🙂

Political advertising Show more

@switchingsocial
You mean Cambridge Analytics or whatever they called themselves? That was two old Etonians full of shite, but a posh accent sells (at first anyway) and the rags love a good scare story. This was the post cold war version of mind control stories from the 60s.

motherjones.com/politics/2018/

@61

CA was far more than two Etonians, its parent is owned by Mercer and he continues to employ Nix et al. Bannon also worked at CA.

That article leans heavily on pro-Trump Republican sources, who (with all due respect) are hardly likely to be reliable on this topic.

If these tactics were effective, they would also be potentially illegal, and they would be crazy to shout about them from the rooftops.

Whistleblowers from CA painted a very different picture:

eu.usatoday.com/story/news/pol

@61

From what was in the FB leaks, the conventional ads are irrelevant except as a payment method.

Officially, FB doesn't sell personal data to anyone. In theory, they analyse people's data without revealing it, then match up adverts to people, which is their equivalent of adwords.

Unofficially, FB would allow companies to use known-to-be-leaky apps to obtain personal data free of charge, on the understanding that those companies would also buy conventional ads.

@61

Also, besides ads, social media content itself has an effect on society:

theguardian.com/media/2018/sep

In the old days there were clearly authoritative sources (physical newspapers, radio, TV) that were legally accountable and professionally run. Extremist publications were rare and difficult to find.

Nowadays journalists publish side-by-side with hate groups on the same platforms, and it's very easy to publish completely fabricated news that newspapers would never have touched.

@61
It's a known phenomenon: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

Remember Google Talk and XMPP?

@switchingsocial @gargron

@61 @switchingsocial @Gargron
IRC hasn't really really been federated since the Eris incident, and AFAIK walled garden XMPP doesn't federate from the very beginning, so for all intents and purposes it may not be XMPP-based at all.

So AFAIK gmail is the only example where one party in a federated network gained a dominant position.

@Wolf480pl
Correct, but the example wasn't about parties in a federated network, rather about services that by their very nature should be federated and collaborative instead of fragmented amongst competing players.

There is no reason other than commercial why a WhatsApp user cannot message someone on telegram or vice versa, or slack stopped doing irc. (Xmpp has gateways for this, though they feel in disuse).

@switchingsocial @Gargron

@61 @switchingsocial @Gargron
Yeah, but I'm not afraid of a walled garden service that develops independently and gets users to move from the federated network into the walled garden.

What I'm afraid of is a service starting as part of a federated network, and then doing EEE or 4X.

Like GChat. Luckily, I don't think any noticeable population really migrated from other XMPP providers to them.

Mail and personal web sites remain the two big examples of a federated network that fell victim to big players offering convenience and features and in effect becoming the network.

@Wolf480pl

What would be the difference? At the end you end up with an unhealthy competitive environment one way or another.

@switchingsocial @Gargron

@61 @switchingsocial @Gargron

In the first scenario, it's obvious from the beginning that the service is a walled garden, we can explain and show to the users how walled it is, and it doesn't exploit our openness.

OTOH, in the second scenario, the attacker is pretending to be one of us, hijacking our network's reputation, promising users that they can still contact the rest of the network, and then changing the rules after most of the users move in.

@61 WhatsApp is based on a stripped down ("optimised") version of the XMPP C2S protocol, but it has never been a part of the !xmpp federated network, nor advertised itself as such.
It's as if Twitter were to implement a highly modified version of the ActivityPub's C2S protocol. Would'n've made a slightest difference.

@xrevan86 Yep, that was my point. The current business model is fucked as it relies on hoarding users.

A saner business model could be along the lines of developing the protocol and then offer clients, hardware, services, etc., etc., that take advantage of it.

#Nextcloud is one successful example of things done right, #Dropbox is a good example of things done wrong.

@switchingsocial @61 @Gargron
The reason everyone went over to Gmail was because it was better than existing email in lots of ways: far superior spam filter, nicer UI, aliases, etc. #mastodon is getting traction for a similar reason: it is better for many people's needs: no nazis, more personal feel, no ads, more focused communities, no celebs (yet) - I feel the fact that it's federated is why it's better, but people are not switching **because** it's federated.

@guyjames @switchingsocial @Gargron
The reason was that it was Google at a time when they still had a positive image (the “do no evil” days).

The 1Gb storage (huge at the time) was a marketing gimmick.

The product features and quality came into play in terms of keeping users engaged, fending off competition, etc., but had no (significant) impact during user acquisition.

@61 @switchingsocial @Gargron You mean people only adopted Gmail because they liked the company? Nothing to do with the product itself being better than the competition?

@guyjames @switchingsocial
Because of an effective #marketing campaign resulting in lots of conversions. The quality of the product may play a role, esp. in the long term but it is hardly ever the dominant factor.

@Gargron Advertising is poison everywhere. Advertising is encroaching on our personal and shared spaces every day, always seeking to turn friendship and trust into manipulation and lies.

I will not post a corporate hashtag, I will not share a corporate post for any kind of reward, I will not even wear clothes with a prominent brand.

Because what you are giving up when you do this is precious and irreplaceable.

@WAHa_06x36 @gargron Yes, fully agree, I also would like to have networks that aren't poisoned by advertising - but in order to have services as reliable and easy-to-use as Flickr, Twitter, Instagram (or as *meaningful* to people if you are, in example, a photographer seeking other photographers to communicate with, online) requires a bit of money. If we want to ban advertising, we should become more willing to pay for services we right now take as granted "for free". 😉

@z428
many of us do.
We contribute to the running costs of the servers.
I believe that if this model keeps working we could even reimburse the admins for their working hours and not just hosting costs.
Also there are coops etc.

@z428 @WAHa_06x36 @Gargron I don't even care that much about advertising, I just don't want the services to be 1) monolithic and immoveable, or 2) perverting the truth for the service of advertising, like hiding recent posts rather than showing things chronologically, hiding content that otherwise happened without the user's input or desire, crap like that. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely also love that the Fediverse is ad-free, but yeah.

@WAHa_06x36
Hypothetically, would you be okay with a social network that has a combination of No ads for You for 1.99/month, but Ads for your friends that want it for free?

From a small European company without VC money and good values.

The thinking is that even federated apps would benefit from some more money coming in to fund development.

@WAHa_06x36
If there was several commercial instances set up like that, owned by several small companies, each company would then use that money.

The federated network could still have non-commercial instances as well.

If five small companies each run on a mixed model of ads and subscriptions, and all those companies contributes to the open source, it improves faster.

I'm thinking for profit company, but the same business model could be used by a non-profit organization.

@EmmaG I wish you could experience the benefits of my work on 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6. Waiting on the switter upgrade...

@Gargron As of today, I state you as the POTMF :mastodon: (President of the Mastodon federations).

@Gargron This is a laudable goal! Thank you for working towards it.

FWIW, I think this may be the root cause of much of the friction around the project.

Developing Mastodon with the aim of growth and bringing more people into the Fediverse is not the same thing as developing the "safest" social network. Those goals will be in conflict at times.

It's not my place to say one is more important than the other, but it might help defuse friction if people understand they have different priorities.

@HerraBRE

Do we mean for safety to be a privilege only for those who have found the right tools?

If not, growth is crucial.

How, including how fast, to grow ... that takes care. Drives for fast growth above everything else are toxic. But not necessarily growth itself.

@Gargron

@pixelfed by @dansup is exactly that.

Or rather, Instagram is a Pixelfed alternative that lacks some core features.


... at least once doespixelfedfederateyet.com/ says "Yes.". 😉

@igeljaeger @Gargron
but if you do marketing, doesn't that mean you become what you sought to destroy?

@Wolf480pl @igeljaeger How so? Mastodon doesn't have advertising, but it can advertise itself on platforms that do?

@Gargron @igeljaeger dunno, it's just my gut feeling...

Maybe because a part of me thinks that marketing == lying, that it necessarily involves deceiving people, and getting them to use our thing (in this case: move to the Fedi) even when it's not a good choice for them.

I'd like to avoid a situation when people expect the Fedi to be something it isn't. And IIRC I've already seen some misguided people like this on the Fedi.

@Gargron I want to see a future where we connect to the Fediverse from our own Domains.

I get your privacy concerns of webmentions. I is legit reasoning.

Thinking about display options and degrees of network connections

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