Henry Edward Hardy is a user on mastodon.social. You can follow them or interact with them if you have an account anywhere in the fediverse. If you don't, you can sign up here.
Henry Edward Hardy @hhardy01

Really, asking "what should replace Facebook" is putting things the wrong way around.

A more interesting way to ask the question is, "what did Facebook replace."

People used to build their own websites. People used to have blogs. People used USENET which was truly distributed and un-censorable.

Facebook and Google took the open internet and open standards and monetized and made everything crappy. Enough of that. Nothing should replace Facebook, it's done, stick a fork in it.

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@hhardy01 Most of the people who now use Facebook to communicate did not, in fact, do those things. They still need to communicate online. They need a Facebook replacement.

@LogicalDash @hhardy01 are you saying they didn’t do those thing because they are non-technical, or because those things had already been supplanted by Facebook when they started using the web?

@ajroach42 @hhardy01 Both are true, and it doesn't really make a difference to my argument

If you really believe that everyone who currently uses Facebook should get technical enough to start their own blog ... that's what you're advocating as a Facebook replacement. You are now in competition with the other efforts to offer a replacement for it, and should conduct yourself accordingly

@LogicalDash @ajroach42 @hhardy01 Yeah, there's a certain kind of tech hubris that thinks that not wanting to learn how to set up a blog is a failing in other people. I'd rather try to take into account what is good about blogs, and what was good about the golden age of Usenet, when designing something for non-technical users.

@gcupc @hhardy01 @ajroach42 @LogicalDash There’s also an entire generation of tech missing from this argument. The people who did those things could afford the high technical and monetary costs of doing them, mostly by paying University tuition. That internet was a walled garden, and it was Early ISP’s that broke the walls down and, in the process of monetizing the internet, democratized it.

Facebook replaced AOL (and MySpace).

@jay @LogicalDash @ajroach42 @hhardy01 @gcupc i feel like it both replaced those things AND brought in an audience that neither of those things could. there are people in my life who use facebook to the exclusion of all other parts of the internet, who never used a computer regularly before that. part of it is tablets/phones - they come with facebook installed. it's less intimidating

@wolfteeth @gcupc @hhardy01 @ajroach42 @LogicalDash @jay

I feel some of the tools are getting good anufe to be used by normal'ish people. of course lots are not

@hamishcampbell @jay @LogicalDash @ajroach42 @hhardy01 @wolfteeth I really like the idea of #Indieweb, but like the *minimal* requirement is to set up your own static website on your own domain, and IMO it would be ideal if everyone could do that, but it's not realistic today.

@gcupc I agree with this, and that's why I try not to criticize people for the networks and tools they use.

I'll critizie those networks and tools, but that's a different thing, you know?

And so much of my favorite indieweb adjacent stuff is still centralized (although it's open web, it's not siloed.)

Archive.org + neocities ftw.

@gcupc @hamishcampbell @jay @LogicalDash @ajroach42 @hhardy01 tbh i'd argue blog/website building doesn't actually meet the same need, even if it was easy enough for everyone to do. fb is a communication tool that is relatively easy to use and gives an illusion of privacy and intimacy ("only my friends/family will see this!"). imo the people who really got into the old indie web were oddballs looking for connection we couldn't find irl - so we wanted to broadcast

@hhardy01 @ajroach42 @LogicalDash @jay @hamishcampbell @gcupc some people use fb for that, but i think many more see it as the equivalent of a family email list or a christmas letter. i think that role does deserve to be filled by an easy-to-use tool, just maybe not one that harvests all your data to sell to advertising firms. and maybe not one that assumes all people in your life should see the same version of you

@wolfteeth @ajroach42 @LogicalDash @jay @hamishcampbell @gcupc

Well in my case I'd been doing student and community radio for about 12 years when I started on the ARPAnet so I wasn't without a broadcast channel it was rather that I was happy to have another medium.

But its true that when I started my own website in 1995 that took a lot of impetus from radio.


@LogicalDash @ajroach42
I don't care about Facebook.

I was here on the net long before The Facebook, 16 years in fact, and will still be here long after it is gone.

Facebook is just a crappy website full of spyware and adware.

@hhardy01 @ajroach42 If you really didn't care about Facebook it wouldn't bother you that people who rely on it are seeking alternatives

@LogicalDash @ajroach42

I came here seeking an alternative to Facebook why would it bother me if others do the same?

@hhardy01 @ajroach42 It apparently bothered you enough to post "Nothing should replace Facebook, it's done, stick a fork in it."

@LogicalDash @ajroach42

RIght I look forward to Facebook failing. I totally don't get how you think that means it bothers me for people to be seeking alternatives to Facebook. Obviously I am for that, right?

@LogicalDash @ajroach42

What I mean is that I don't hope to see Facebook's deplorable business model replicated.

@hhardy01 @ajroach42 Yet you think that "what should replace Facebook" is a bad question to ask

If every Facebook user goes to Aardwolf and Friendica and whatnot, those have replaced Facebook

@LogicalDash @ajroach42

Right I do think what should replace Facebook is entirely the wrong way of framing the question.

It implies that Facebook is something we would want to replicate or perpetuate, and it is not.

@hhardy01 @ajroach42 Everyone who can physically operate a computer should be able to communicate effortlessly with their friends

Facebook is that for a lot of people now. That is worth replicating and perpetuating. We should find a way to do so without the exploitative business practices. We should nonetheless learn from the things Facebook has done for people

@LogicalDash @ajroach42

I don't think Facebook is particularly easy to use. The controls are quite obfuscated and nested and some obvious things one would want such as "opt out of data collection about me" and "opt out of targeted ads" just aren't there.

@hhardy01 @ajroach42 Even if the only thing Facebook did right was getting its app into the stock ROM for a bunch of Android tablets and provide internet for "free," we need to learn from *that*

@LogicalDash @ajroach42

So why are you here instead of on facebook right now if it is so wonderful?

@hhardy01 Because I don't like Facebook

I also think your rhetoric is harmful to the cause of replacing it


I don't care about 'replacing Facebook.'

I just look forward to facebook joining AOL, geocities, friendster, and myspace on the ashheap of the net.

@hhardy01 those two sentences contradict one another



I was here before Facebook. Before the web. Before any commercial use of the net was allowed. At all.

I feel like you think Facebooks is the Internet essentially and like it is a big deal.

I don't.

I see Facebook as a crappy website laden with spyware and adware.

I hope it dwindles down to almost nothing and becomes irrelevant as myspace, friendster, geocities, AOL have.

If you take Facebook as a model and try to 'replace' it, that's the wrong paradigm.

@hhardy01 The fact that Facebook is the only part of the internet a lot of people use means that it is providing something to them, that they will still need if Facebook goes under

The only way it makes sense to not care about a Facebook replacement, but still want it to die, is if you're OK with those people not getting what they need out of the internet


The internet is a voluntary association of Autonomous Systems. It isn't Facebook.

It's kind of like worrying that if Walmart fails, then people won't be able to buy clothes or appliances or food. Of course they will. If Facecrook is filling a need and it falters, other competing services will pick up the slack.

If you love Facecrook so much why are you here?

@hhardy01 Er, there actually *are* places in the United States where Wal-Mart is the only food vendor in a hundred miles. You don't have to like Wal-Mart to acknowledge that those places need a replacement, and I don't have to like Facebook to acknowledge that it fills a need that will still exist if it fails


Zack do you work for Facebook?

I don't care about your pro-Facecrook trolling.

@hhardy01 I don't work for Facebook

I want Facebook to be replaced with something better

It is important to talk about what will replacement, and your rhetoric makes that harder to do

@ajroach42 @LogicalDash

I don't exactly know why FB became so popular.

For me it was the world wide reach, illusion of private space, and pointy clicky illusion of ease of use. Even though no real control and everything obfuscated.

It is hard for me as I'm leaving now because I have 2000 peeps and so many artists, musicians, writers, intellectuals, thinkers, internet OGs, models, rebels cool people. But if they are real they will come to me here if not let them go.

@hhardy01 @ajroach42 @LogicalDash The way I remember it, Facebook was the first to pierce that membrane between offline and online life and do it well. Bebo sort of did it, but only for teens.

@ajroach42 @salixlucida @LogicalDash @Hascobe @hhardy01 (one of, and arguably the largest, although there were many other incompatible yet functionally similar BBS networks besides fidonet)

@ajroach42 @hhardy01 @Hascobe @LogicalDash yes, but not all BBSes were FidoNet

I used to have an account with a local Free-Net, which was sponsored by the city and had telnet and dial-up access. It did allow access to external WWW (Lynx browser only), gopher, and ftp, in addition to typical local BBS stuff, but no FidoNet.

@hhardy01 @Hascobe @ajroach42 @LogicalDash There were all those things, but they were small. Facebook works for all those people that don't get "the internet" in all its complexity and variety. Same as Apple's iDevices work for many that couldn't get a grip on all that computer stuff before.
Both are massive enablers, but they come at a hidden cost. Only those users that are being enabled are the least well equipped to understand the costs, because they don't understand the ecosystem.

@LogicalDash @hhardy01 True.

And we should provide the best possible experience for those people. #scuttlebutt #matrix and #mastodon (though the latter two are only federated, the former is distributed, which is way better IMO)

Totally agree. People who have 0 technical interest use Facebook; they would never make their own website, ever.

@hhardy01 Let's not be reductive.

Facebook works, regardless of whether you have tech abilities or disposable income.

Facebook centralises and logs communication in a way that IRC never did.

Facebook is accessible and convenient af. Any competitor has to match that.

@Hascobe @hhardy01 Exactly this. I have a blog. I'm never going to convince everyone I interact with on Facebook to join me there. I'm never gonna convince my mum that she needs to make an account to talk to me there and then get her childhood friends she's reconnected with to contact her there, too. Why would they?

@Hascobe @hhardy01 Do you consider the logging to be a feature or a bug?

@USBloveDog @Hascobe

As a sysadmin I know everything gets logged, question is who can see it.

@USBloveDog @hhardy01 for my personal use, a feature. It's useful to have flawless, asynchronous group conversations, or the ability to search messaging history from any device. The issue, as always, is that it's also incredibly useful to those I don't want it to be useful to.

@Hascobe @hhardy01 much like a lot of Google services. It's hard to move b/c of the huge base and things work (for most people anyway).


IRC has always used a server. And there's been bots such as eggdrop since forever. Try freenode and irissi client now.

@hhardy01 I'm sure it's doable in some form. The problem is, it's not accessible enough for someone to go from ignorant of the technology to fully integrated, without substantive research. If I say 'join Facebook' to people, they can can find Facebook, and from there the onboarding process takes them through to completion. (Even then, the grossly tech illiterate can struggle.)

That's the barrier we need to surpass.

@hhardy01 @slipstream Messages like this exact one are what I'm referring to. To me, this reads as "You know what we should do? Just kick 90% of the folk on the Internet off."

I think there's this misconception of what the Internet was like pre-Facebook - it was not the perfect frontier of FOSS solutions that y'all are building toward now, but a medley FOSS stopgaps to heal the dot-com burst. Not to be too harsh, but the linked toot reads as almost revisionist.

@emsenn @slipstream

I started sysadmin during the ARPAnet when it was a military project but ironically it was freeer and less crappy. There was no FB because no commercial use. Also there was yet no www.

So yes I have some nostalgia for that period and as an OG sysadmin you aren't wrong to call me out for having an elitist attitude.

On the other hand I have spent my entire life defending the freedom of the net and making it more accessible and hopefully keeping it as nonevil as possible.

@hhardy01 There are still billions of people who do not use the internet. Facebook, for all that was wrong with it, was reaching out to those people, just as AOL reached out to millions of people in the early 90's.

Alas it might be needed to actually reach out to those people, since they are one of the few companies with the resources to get them online. Facebook didn't just replace blogs, rss feeds,etc but has allowed millions of people to leave their closed-in, insular communities

@jeffcliff @hhardy01 There should, perhaps, be some better methods of outreach?

@Rock @hhardy01 but right now there isn't. We've got to push with the cock we've got, not with a better cock we'd like to have.

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@hhardy01 One thing Facebook and other social media did, though, is that they made it accessible to people who don't know how to make their own websites and who aren't tech-savvy enough to learn. I don't like facebook, but I don't want having a presence on the internet to have the massive barrier to entry that it had before social media was a thing.


erm... Facebook replaced MySpace and Livejournal and hi5, among others.

It never replaced blogs. Bloggers kept blogging, using different platforms, sometimes with Facebook to help boost their views. And in the recent years actual new bloggers also came to life after doing a FB page.

This, in my experience, as a portuguese user of the internet since 1998-ish.

@hhardy01 I think this is a bit optimistic though - while people did do those things, far more people were able to communicate with people because Facebook made it easy.... while also siphonining their data, slinging ads, and violating their privacy.

The things and protocls you mention had a lot of freedom, but fraught with problems. Usenet became a hive of spam. Most people couldn't make a web page.

The problem is how can we make it easy *and* liberating?

@hhardy01 - Facebook replaced MySpace which had replaced Geocities. Before Geocities, we had America Online :D

@hhardy01 I know Facebook derailed my coding interest (approximately Geocities to Myspace)

@hhardy01 People used to build and run phpBB and vBulletin discussion boards. And try and control the spam.

Let them use reddit.


I think the real question is what should replace reddit.

Reddit works in many ways because you have a consolidated forum with voting.

Couldn't each subreddit become its own server instance and decentralized? And then your user becomes federated only to the subreddits to which it subscribes?

@hhardy01 yes! it’s funny because i remember facebook starting to become a thing, and it felt like the most pointless platform to launch.

there already were forums for every community imaginable, and they were geared to their respective community’s needs, and filled with community people. many of them not appreciably more tech savvy than today’s facebook user, either.

facebook wasn’t inventing or revolutionising anything. it was bland and uninteresting from the beginning.

@gekitsu @hhardy01 couldn’t agree more. It took me a long time to make an account, because I didn’t need one. Everything I did on the web I could do with our Facebook.

@ignitionigel i know right? i managed to never join, and got by pretty damn well. as a free bonus, boy do i get to gloat right now. ;D

@gekitsu Shit yes. I would haha.

The hardest part for me is missing out on friends organising stuff, or events that are badly publicised elsewhere.

I'd argue that friends nt getting in touch outside of FB aren't very good friends though.

@hhardy01 Well Facebook made things accessible... I was a bad solution. We need to make decentralized technology accessible for non-tech people.

@rucuriousyet @hhardy01 I think Mastodon and Pleroma are good examples of accessible technology for non-tech people. Probably a large proportion of users on Mastodon instances are not hardcore GNU/Linux hackers or Stallmanites. The mobile apps available for the fediverse are as good as the ones for Twitter, or better.

Facebook's user interface is definitely not very accessible, and I often struggle with it. Text randomly changes size, there is visual clutter, it's mind-numbingly slow, posts sometimes fail and disappear and even successful posts are not always visible to friends. Typing is so slow that it sometimes literally drops characters. It's really the canonical example of how not to design a web user interface.

@hhardy01 how did Google make the Internet crappy?

@tw How google made things crappy. Example: monetizing USENET and rebranding it as "google groups" now its a source of business intelligence to them for their mindfuck adware campaigns. Who even knows this is USENET and you don't need google to access it or use it?

Embrace, extend, privatize, make propritary extensions, claim legal IP., sow FUD about the community you stripmined. the google/FB/Microsoft way. They all suck and need to go away.

@hhardy01 @tw Yes. But we need to replace them with something better - and this *better* for John Doe who has just as much technical detail knowledge about computers and internet as I do have about the internals of my car. I just want to drive. We should strive for leaving our "expert" point of view more often and try seeing the world through the eyes of some user who is happy to have a piece of software that can be just installed and used.

@hhardy01 I didn’t talk to my IRL friends on Facebook. We sometimes used LiveJournal to keep up with each other, but nowadays I’d rather call them. The web has never been a good place for IRL friends... I mean, I have made friends this way that became IRL friends, but then we just called each other 😄

@hhardy01 I can't really agree. FB did displace forums/nntp/websites to a degree, but that was not its core, it was more a side effect of the network effect.

At its core it filled a space that wasn't filled at all before that, at least not online. And the only open thing I know of that tries to fill that is Diaspora*

@hhardy01 Facebook replaced a lot and also has given new abilities for people to boast or show-off.

@hhardy01 so true...the new w3c standard for decentralized social networks seems to have been published at a really good time

@hhardy01 Unfortunately no. Facebook, Google and all those took the open internet and made it usable for a load of people with little technical knowledge. Same WhatsApp: They essentially took XMPP and did what the rest of the XMPP community fails to do until today - make it usable for a wide range of people... We better not ignore this, otherwise we totally fail to understand why these disputable networks were successful at all, and why a majority of people will just stay there.

What should follow, is small standalone hubs of different types, like versions of Twitter (mastodon), Facebook (ello), and so one, with a master viewer like Trillian in those days.
This is the only way to get mainstream people to find joy and want to share.
The are users, not tech people like us....

@hhardy01 yes but it was reserved to an IT elite
By people you truly say "one percent of the population"
This is what we have to fight for : accessibility

@Doshirae @hhardy01 I agree. Fortunately we are in a day and age when kids are using Raspberry PIs to do thing I never was able to.
Hopefuly they'll take back their private life if it not too late when they grow up.

A lot of these replies are enlightening but to me, facebook replaced myspace which was like an easier to maintain group of contacts than the oldschool pen and paper. What brought me to it was everyone was on it. Could find anyone I knew by name and face and keep in touch with them. People change phone numbers and even emails, so having a consistent directory was the only attraction for me. It's something that is difficult to replicate elsewhere and comes with inherent privacy issues baked in.

@hhardy01 佢講得無錯,不過成本同門檻都俾fb黎得高太多,而且我覺得fb改變人類生活習慣嘅壞處大於其平台的劣行。




@hhardy01 AGREE! I haven't been able to think of it as anything but a slightly more entertaining version of a contact list. Maybe more like a contact list that lets me know things I don't want to know about people I haven't thought of for years.

@hhardy01 Couldn't of said it better myself. Cheers🍻.

@hhardy01 USENET un-censorable? Clearly you never got into a cancel war with anyone. :)

@wohali hah I was particularly thinking of the alt groups :)

@jhertzli Well nothing it still exists. But the simple answer is the web eclipsed it.


Reading everyone's responses has given me an insight. The essential difference between FIDONET or USENET and Facebook is anonymity. All this shenanigans of privatizing data and using it to mindfuck people into feeling fear, or buying certain products, associating with certain celebrities or groups and particularly manipulating political behavior, is based on a profile which follows people around the web and is associated with their financial and legal status.

*Privacy is security.*

@hhardy01 Actually, that's not quite correct. people still use their own website, these still use decentralized services.

Facebook and Google just lowered the bar, giving publishing access to people who aren't technical. the problem was usability, and the Internet Moguls solved it for the vast majority until they became the de facto standard.

if we want a free internet for the masses, using it needs to be user friendly.

@hhardy01 (continued) I have 25 years if software development on my belt and am LPIC-2 certified. I found it impossible to get Diaspora installed in a Debian system of mine. THIS is the real problem.

@hhardy01 I think that is a very tech-focused take. Facebook and Google didn't make things crappy; they were the clearly better products for the average user because they allowed a non-techy audience to participate in the internet. Which was not possible before.

They invested heavily in UX/UI and connecting people with ease. Don't act like any FOSS products were anywhere near capable of what they managed to achieve.

@hhardy01 I've been on Usenet for like 20 years but at the beginning of this decade it was already a shadow of its past self so a few years ago I gave it up due to little engagement left. 😢

@hhardy01 The internet used to be used by technically savvy and educated people...


Yes but we only became technically savvy by using the net and building things. Not by studying computer science in school.

@hhardy01 Usual people don't give a shit. About anything, whatsoever.

@petaramesh @hhardy01

"Usual" people does care about things : eg. their jobs, their families, etc. We are concerned about things that are surrounding us, that are linked with us. It's even why GAFAM services became so powerful : their targets are these particular things that everyone DO give a shit about.

If we want to make the "usual" people to care about internet's future, we need to replace the debate into their context, and stop keeping saying they don't give a shit anyway.

@hhardy01 both are good and necessary questions - the technology facebook replaced will never be competitive unless we stop and figure out why facebook replaced them and solve those issues

Personally my guesses would be a combination of branding, convenience and timing with critical mass being a secondary factor but I’m no expert so

@hhardy01 Oh, you just made me feel real nostalgic for the DIY days of usenet and personal websites (GeoCities! 😜 ). That was FUN.

Re last boost. For me Facebook replaced Friends Reunited as a place to find people I used to know or friends I wanted to stay in touch with because you could find people by name and mutual friends without knowing their online usernames, email addresses or mobile number

@hhardy01 On the other hand, we should ask what did Facebook do right to get so many people using it? And one of the huge advantages Facebook has over blogs and self-built websites is that it's a hell of a lot easier to set up a Facebook account than it is to build a website, even if you're using an off-the-shelf solution like WordPress. Most people don't want to put in that level of work.

@sanspoint @hhardy01 it should be pointed out that facebook was not the first system to do this, they just happened to be the one that got the most critical mass.

@equal @hhardy01 Oh, of course. MySpace and even Geocities back in the day did the same thing.

@sanspoint @hhardy01 Yes. When MySpace and Facebook arrived it was really the first time that the average internet user could have something like a blog but without much of the effort of maintaining a blog or the expectation of long-form posts. I think the invention of the timeline was why Facebook won over MySpace. The often inconsistent appearance of MySpace or blogs contrasted with Facebook's boringly uniform theme. High uniformity meant once you know how to use it then the same methods of interaction apply predictably for the pages of any user on the system.

@bob @hhardy01 Which also makes it easier to monetize, as advertisers can be sure of consistency in placement and layout for their ads and how users will see them.

@sanspoint @hhardy01 Another critical difference was the insistence upon "real names", which is what advertisers need if they want to target people with high accuracy. As far as I remember MySpace didn't have any "real name" policy.

@hhardy01 Important point, and we should value the real labor of communication and networking that users did using those corrupted tools even as we were being expropriated and manipulated.


I don't disagree but how do you propose to do that?

@hhardy01 I guess what I mean is Facebook and its ilk should be "forked" - the real social networking and relationship work it exploits should be split off from the platform capitalist structure. Which means not one simple alternative to FB but helping people transition to using multiple platforms. #loomio #mastodon #framasoft #ioo


So a tool which would facilitate reconnecting with people's old friends list on Facebook for instance?

@hhardy01 Maybe, because Mastodon is distributed our friends would probably end up in various instances, so not sure how that would work... I think of it as a lot of recruiting... It would be great if there were a way to upload archived FB posts to some kind of shared archive, searchable but not for sale...


Well you have people you've followed and who've followed you, that could map the friends in a fashion.

@Matt_Noyes there is the mastodon–twitter link tool, which i used to find the people who i knew on twitter who had signed up, when i first signed up.
(also people had to link their masto *and* twitter account to the website, which meant if you didn't want one site to find you on the other, you didn't have to worry about it. smth facebook's email import thing doesn't allow.)
something like that could be made for facebook too, probably. idk if facebook's api is more hostile to that than twitter's though.

@hhardy01 i read a bunch of stuff from back then with people being upset about isps blocking usenet... obviously like with torrent blocking there are workarounds but i'd call that censorable.


Depends on what you mean by back then... under the ARPANET when I started there were no "ISPs" and no commercial internet providers with the few exceptions like telenet and uunet, the latter of which was set up specifically to facilitate distribution of USENET.

And there's a difference between "we don't carry this service" and the kind of fine grained algorithmic censorship of a google or facebook.

@hhardy01 i'm talking about the 90s, which is roughly the first time "ISPs" existed instead of "online services" like compuserve

obviously fine grained control is more powerful than protocol-based blocking. "we don't carry x" makes it sound neutral imo. but they're all potent internet censorship tools. i hope you're not arguing it's not?

@hhardy01 (disclaimer: this is a genuine question because i'm autistic, i'm not being weird) does your reply have an implicit "i agree, within these limits"; or is it an "i disagree, here's why" ?


I get that your question is genuine and not just trollish and I'm answering I hope in the same spirit.

USENET was free speech in the sense that "freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press" in those days there were a lot more press owners in the form of every USENET node, not just "one press to rule them all" of a walled garden like Facebook or google. USENET is more similar to mastodon/federation than Facebook or google. Difference in that USENET was a net not a federation.

@hhardy01 *blinks* i know what usenet is and have used it myself

also i don't, feel like your response answered what i was looking to know

(also when i hear "freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press", i think about how you need a very large and expensive piece of equipment to join in!)

@kit Your question was nonspecific and askeed in the form of a double negative with a vague modifying clause ""we don't carry x" makes it sound neutral imo. but they're all potent internet censorship tools. i hope you're not arguing it's not?"

USENET was not unblockable. Moderated groups were moderated to varying degrees. (cont)


Each node decided what groups to receive and what groups to transmit. Networks consisted of private 4 wire 9600 baud modems or later T-1s so bandwidth was slow and excpensive. Everything was on voluntary basis and carryers could and did say "this is eating all our bandwidth" and "we can/can't afford this."

Please read the paper I wrote in 1993 to see how I saw things in 1993 ten years before there was "The Facebook." Things were very different.

@hhardy01 i don't need usenet explained to me

@hhardy01 explaining what usenet is does not answer my question about what you were saying before


Please restate your question in a simpler and more direct form since I'm not answering what you are trying to ask.

@hhardy01 do you disagree that when isps existed, they blocked usenet?

do you disagree that blocking a protocol constitutes censorship?

@hhardy01 and lastly, do you disagree that usenet and any computer network in the 80s and early 90s was restricted only to those whose family had a fairly large amount of disposable income and/or those in universities?


Please make up your mind as to if I know things you do not and you want me to share what I know or if you already know everything I know and are just trying to argue over what constitutes censorship.

@hhardy01 i'm asking what you think, i know my history

@hhardy01 i'm asking for opinions, not facts

@hhardy01 you keep saying that the earlier internet was more open for everybody. i'm asking you to tell me what you picture when you say everybody.

i'm also asking you to why you said it was "uncensorable". you told me that protocol blocking happened sometimes. since you described it as uncensorable, do you believe protocol blocking isn't censorship?

@hhardy01 all you said was that protocol blocking isn't as serious as the potentials today. that could mean "it's not censorship, it's nowhere near as serious as today's censorship".

it could mean "it's censorship, but not as bad". that's what i meant when i asked if there's an implicit i agree/disagree in your message. it can be interpreted in two opposite ways.


Argh. SMH.

You just gave two paragraphs which both contain a compound sentence stating two alternatives which sound pretty much the same.

"it's not censorship, it's nowhere near as serious as today's censorship"


"it's censorship, but not as bad"

@hhardy01 those are complete opposites. i'm asking you to where you define the line of censorship. is this question just too uncomfortable for you to think deeply about?

@hhardy01 something is either censorship, in which case it is condemnable, or it isn't, in which case it is tolerable


I've spent 30 years as a sysadmin and writing and thinking about the net but I guess I'm just not as deep a thinker as you.

Please mighty one, tell us what is true and right.

@hhardy01 oh my god! being a sysadmin is not the same as having robust politics! thinking about things doesn't equal having made concrete conclusions!

questions of censorship extend far beyond the internet, they impact people's ability to organise and exist. censorship has existed long before the internet.

you won't tell me what you consider censorship and what you consider reasonable network management.

you've given me many posts describing how old networking equipment works.

go away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


"[ERROR]: mousey not found @kit
@hhardy01 i'm asking for opinions, not facts"

Evidently. :)

@hhardy01 i'm wanting an answer to "does your reply have an implicit "i agree, within these limits"; or is it an "i disagree, here's why" ?" because i can't actually parse the intent of your answer


There's also the matter that each node in the USENET system could decide which newgroups to receive and which to transmit. The alt groups were specifically set up to facilitate stuff which other sites would not carry. And moderated groups were moderated to varying degrees. For instance, commercial use was frowned on.

But please don't miss the point that USENET was and is a much more open, distributed, and free-er system than Facebook in the sense of both "free beer" and "free speech."

@hhardy01 Facebook did more than replace those things. It brought a lot of new things to the internet that really were based in good ideas, like identities you could mostly trust, and an email/messenger equivalent that was inherently resistant to spam, not by guessing which messages you didn't want, but by making it hard to send someone a message if they hadn't opted into a relationship.


I don't agree that forcing real ID, and FB messenger were good ideas.

@hhardy01 It's definitely debatable but it's a huge part of why it had success. But also a huge privacy vulnerability.

@hhardy01 I mean crack is a bad idea, but it attracts and retains a lot of users. And you need to understand why people use something in order to replace it.


I don't care about replacing Facecrook. It's just a crappy website full of adware and spyware. I don't even particularly care about the world wide web, it's just two of 65535 ports. What I care about is the free and open internet. As long as people are trapped by the paradigms that google and FB have set that's going to be difficult to do. People have been living in a cave so long that now that they see the light, all they can think abut is, "how are we going to replace the cave."

@hhardy01 @byron Yes. Because a load of people inside the cave have never known anything else. Because the world is increasingly about being specialized. Even just try explaining that "2 of 65535 ports" to that 60+ grandmother who never owned a computer and git in touch with what we call "the internet" for the first time when her kids gave her that WhatsApp phone so she can receive pictures of her kids and grand-kids then and now...

@hhardy01 @byron ...to most people Facebook is not about tech but about interactions between humans. The faster we are willing to understand and accept this, the better.

@z428 @byron

Actually though Facecrook is not equal to "the internet" even if people mistakenly think it is. The sooner they are able to understand and accept this, the better.

@hhardy01 @byron I feel safe to say load of people could not care less. They use the tools on their devices, the tools that help them getting and staying in touch with a majority of people in their network. If we want to change that, we need to educate and convince that load of people. Using wording such as Facecrook is pretty likely to make those folks not listen and simply ignore you. A lot of experts have been complaining ...

@z428 @byron

Challenging and convincing people not to use Facecrook?

Is that what you are doing?

Seems to me that by extolling how necessary and essential people feel that Facecrook is & how they don't know or care that Facecrook isn't anything but a single web site on a single internet service, www, you are doing the opposite of that.

@hhardy01 @byron Don't get me wrong - I don't need to be convinced. ;) Actually I think I'm trying to do the same as you do, on a daily basis. And personal experience: There *are* a lot of people who see WhatsApp and Facebook as essential things. They don't care about "the web" or even "the internet", as they don't know either of these. They know Google and Facebook and WhatsApp. They never entered an URL manually in their life because the always had that "Google Search" on their phone. But ...

@hhardy01 @byron ... the same way I am challenging them to understand more of what is "behind", the same way I try challenging and confronting technical people (like you... ;) ) to get closer to how actual end users think and work. "We" (as experts), I firmly believe, are miles off from that reality, trying to talk people into a change they don't want, a change they don't see they need. As for Facebook being "essential"...

@hhardy01 @byron ... I do have that example of the 65 years old couple, worked in a restaurant, never had a computer in their whole life. They now own a smartphone with Facebook and WhatsApp because this is the way their grand-kids (living in the US and spread across Germany) use to communicate - so as grandparents they can participate. Both channels, in a way, are "essential" here. It's about participating or being left out, in some way. No, I don't like that. Not at all. But ...

@hhardy01 @byron ... changing that requires a "load" more than claiming Facebook is evil and people just should get out as fast as possible. It needs fighting the "network effect". And it needs fighting a certain "inertia" in people. You don't change if you need to. That won't stop me from trying - but I'd like to be more effective here. ;)

@z428 @byron

I never said "Facebook is evil" and I certainly never said "get out as fast as possible."

Straw man argument much? :)

@hhardy01 @byron Hmm, I'm unsure what to learn from your posts then, to be honest. Initial discussion was about what Facebook replaced. I don't think it really replaced something. It created something unique and new to a big amount of users that weren't into technology before - and still use it "just" as a tool.

@z428 @byron

With all due respect Kristian, how much were you on the net before 2004?

How are you so sure you are right and I am wrong about what Facebook replaced?

Especially given that I've been a sysadmin since the days of the ARPAnet and have watched, written about, and actively participated in how things have developed?

I don't expect you will learn anything from my posts since you evidently already know everything.

@hhardy01 @byron Sorry, no offense intended. I don't have a history online as long as yours, only dating back to the early 1990s. I remember well enough however how internet changed all along with Facebook and especially mobile internet and smartphone use. I always was enthusiastic about privacy and decentralization and was often rather rude in my "evangelism". I had to learn in a painful process of countless wasted hours that many of the understandings ...

@hhardy01 @byron ... I took for granted with "internet users" simply aren't there anymore. That's why I think the only way to change something for the better for us is to way deeper understand how these groups use "our" technology today... And that thus drastically may differ from all we know. Didn't mean to sound rude but in many ways a load of your posts just reminded me of myself ten years earlier... :(

@z428 @byron
Ten years ago we could have been friends.

@hhardy01 @byron Hmm, I still think we're somehow on the same boat but I really have a hard time figuring out what exactly you are trying to achieve... Educate people? Change something?

@z428 @hhardy01 It's all just such a recurring cycle. People not understanding why Facebook reached such levels of popularity is basically *why* FB beat out competing social media options.

I mean social media properly speaking includes Usenet, irc, email, MUDs, and various messaging protocols. And FB has beaten out even email as the messenger of choice, by being better at offering users things they want and need.

Social's all about the people, the network effect. You use it because others do.

@z428 @hhardy01 If there's no replacement for what FB offers users, then the mass will still use it, or the next big commercial social media thing that will probably be bought by MSTwitFaceOogle anyhow.

One year before FB:
* Most humans didn't have web sites or blogs
* Even most internet users didn't use Usenet or even know what it was
* Email was in competition with proprietary chat apps
* Practically nobody worldwide used irc

FB has >2X the users today as the whole internet in 2004.

@z428 @hhardy01 It was interesting watching Myspace and then FB take over. Myspace got popular with teens, I think, because it was messy and you could pimp it out with CSS, and because it was primarily social rather than mostly about content.

FB came along and had way better built in social functionality, realizing that people would get hooked if they spent less time pimping profiles and more talking and sharing pics, etc.

@z428 @hhardy01 And a thing that many people hate about FB, the "real name" policy, was really valuable *because* it went against the spirit of the rest of the internet, where traditionally people used many handles freely.

It's not that everything should be real names, but that it inherently changes social interactions when you're accountable as the real you for things you do. And it also paved the way for FB to become a de facto self-updating address book, from which its name comes anyhow.

@z428 @hhardy01 I grew up using Unix variants and BBSes, and I loved the internet culture of the gopher and early web era. I love FOSS. But too often, open source has been about geeks catering to each other and complaining about the remaining 98% of people being lazy or stupid to "get it" while in the meantime, Apple and Facebook win massive market share by figuring out what customers and users want.

So yes, we need to understand why people use FB, and how to fulfill those needs in better ways.

@byron @hhardy01 Right. And that's what makes things considerably worse if you try to raise awareness for certain issues: you're not just arguing with 98% of the users who don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about - you also end up fighting with your own 'community' because there interest in and understanding for end-user issues is hardly there. :/

@z428 @byron

I would guess there's at least some people in the community here who agree with me. My original post in this thread has gotten more than 300 favorites and 300 boosts in the week since I initially posted it here as a new member.

You should read or see "The Enemy of the People" by Henrik Ibsen. Dr. Stockman has a great rant in there about why the majority is always wrong. I think understanding Facebook is okay but not to focus on it except as a model of what not to do.

@byron @z428

If it wasn't for people creating simply for the joy of creating, there would be no internet and the services which Facebook used but did not invent, would not exist.

@hhardy01 @byron Still: I don't need to be convinced. I don't need any more arguments why Facebook is not desirable. I need a working way to get a critical mass of people to reconsider their use of tools. You're right in *everything* you wrote. And still it will not change anything. Plus: Yes, none of the services they now use were created by Facebook. What, then, did Facebook to become so tremendously big with tech that already existed? Or: Why didn't we see ...

@hhardy01 @byron ... adoption of #xmpp by a broader audience before WhatsApp built a product on top of that? Why does it take companies like Google, WhatsApp, Facebook to make products from preexisting technologies?

@z428 @byron

To emulate FB takes a willingness to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, the open internet.

Adopt/extend/proprietize/claim IP on the services you appropriated/spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the open internet, that's the model which Microsoft perfected and FB particularly has embraced. Google at least does innovate.

It is the tragedy of the commons.

@hhardy01 @byron No. It shouldn't be about emulating Facebook or killing the open internet. But it should be about figuring out how to get a sufficient amount of Facebook users off the Facebook.bandwagon and onto a set of tools that is more open. How to do that? I have no idea, I only know that calling Facebook names will for sure *not* work.

@z428 @byron

So satire and snark do not work as persuasive tools on the internet?

Are you sure about that? :)

@hhardy01 @byron I am unsure whether relevant users will understand, in this case. Again, I'd be more than happy to be all wrong here and would merrily shut up if I knew your way works reasonably well. I suppose you are still on FB? How many of your contacts have recently left, how many will do so? I'm really curious.

@z428 @byron

I've posted that I am leaving FB after April 2. I'm still strip mining my old posts for things I want to save or repost over here.

Of my 1300 FB friends a handful have got on mastodon w/o leaving FB and a few have announced leaving FB period. Not many out of the total yet. But prior to that over 8 years I can only think of one FB friend who left and was vocal about it.

@hhardy01 @byron So far I haven't seen any of my (<< 500) Facebook contacts either leave or consider trying a different platform, partly also because those of my friends who are very well aware of these issues never were on Fb at all. I'm really curious, especially I wonder how many users would be a critical mass, and whether some big names like Tesla or Playboy leaving will make any difference.

@byron @z428

The real name policy was and is a bad thing because that's what enabled the aggregation and monetization of huge amounts of personal data, which Zuck has always claimed such as in his 2009 BBC interview, belongs to the user.

Facebook isn't a haven of nice friendly behavior, despite names and overt and covert censorship. One FB VP said in an internal message that it doesn't matter to them if they contribute even to someone dying or a terrorist attack, as long as they keep growing.

@byron @hhardy01 Yes, that's why I keep on repeating: whatever we try to promote in order to "replace" Facebook doesn't just have to be better from our point of view (decentralized, privacy-aware,...); it also has to be at least as good as Fb *from an end-user point of view*.

@z428 @byron Please read my initial post in this thread again. I don't care about replacing Facebook. That's very limiting and the wrong paradigm. And very peculiar given your claim that facebook did not replace anything. What I care about is the free and open internet. Does that matter to you at all? Why do we hear nothing from you about facecrook's lies and political corruption and misuse of user's data without permission or notification?That's why fb should just go away and not be replaced.

@hhardy01 @byron As I wrote before: We're on the same side of the fence trying to achieve the same thing. But unless we aren't able or willing to deal with why so many people willingly use Facebook and continue doing so even in light of the recent events, nothing will change. It needs better options meeting the users needs. Otherwise they will continue doing what they already do, and Facebook (or the next network of the same type) will simply stay, like it or not.

@z428 @byron

You keep claiming we are on the same side. Where is your criticism of Facebook? Did I miss that somehow?

All I hear from you is Facebook is so wonderful, we must imitate it.

@hhardy01 @byron I dislike Facebook both because they do more than questionable things in so many different ways I don't even know where to start. Collecting way too many data even from users not logged in is one. Commercializing data by all the active users is another one. Creating a walled garden where you have to be a member in order to interact with users inside always has been one of my biggest issues. I can -re-iterate these to end users for hours and still...

@hhardy01 @byron ... not even a single one of these reasons so far made any end-user go beyond a short "yeah, whatever". If we want a free internet, we need to compete with Facebook because that's where the users are. In this competition Facebook is way ahead of us right now because the users are still there, data is still there, network effect still works. If we want a free internet, we need to attract users to better technologies, not just try to scare them ...

@z428 @byron

I am leaving Facebook for exactly those reasons and so are a number of other people arriving here on this site and federated sites. What you said there is simply not true.

@hhardy01 @byron I'd be more than happy if you really could prove me all wrong about that. How many millions of users does Facebook have, right now? Let's see how many of them have quit and moved o a federated site or deployed an instance of their own, a month from now. I'd be more than happy if it would be a critical mass...

@z428 @byron

I don't think that two billion users are going to move off Facebook in a month. That's an unreasonable expectation to test.

The stock market is often a good leading indicator for the future viability of capitalist firms, and they do not like what they are seeing now with facebook, not only in , but in metrics, cash flow, engagement and most of all what's the viability of a company whose sole strategy is grow grow grow, if they now claim to have two billion users.

@hhardy01 @byron ... off Facebook. If we fail to do so, people will stay where they age and not at all care about anything we say. Looking at the recent press coverage (which slowly moves from #deletefacebook to setting your Facebook privacy settings right), Facebook is still winning. :(

@z428 @byron

It seems like you are arguing that we need to emulate FB's user interface, which I don't think is particularly good.

@hhardy01 @z428 The point isn't about liking FB or getting on the hate bandwagon. I hate FB and overall the feudalizing of the internet.

FB both did and didn't replace things. It did because even haters like me ended up using FB instead of email or chat apps because that's the way people got in touch with me.

And it didn't, because most of the people on FB were never going to use irc or usenet or even listservs.

FB got me because it recruited the most other people.

@hhardy01 @z428 FB wouldn't be a problem if it were unsuccessful. So it's important to look at why it worked if you want to move beyond this stage of the internet.

Eg it's easy to say that real names are easily abused, but they're *also* a feature. And they can be implemented in many other ways that aren't as prone to abuse.

It's foolish to simply dismiss everything FB has done out of hand. There are problems but also insights.

@byron @hhardy01 Yes, nothing to add here. We should examine things, learn, keep doing what worked well and improve what didn't work so well.

@byron @z428

I absolutely do not want to see Facecrook emulated and I have zero interest in that.

@hhardy01 @byron No. Not emulating FBs user interface. But sort of emulating its user *experience*. Compare #xmpp to Telegram or WhatsApp: #xmpp can, on protocol level, do the same and more - yet most of the clients (especially on desktops) are stuck being clones of late 1990s proprietary messengers such as ICQ. And that's where people rather go for proprietary Slack than choosing an open technology. This is quite to sine degree *our* fault.

@z428 @byron

Wow Stockholm syndrome much? The user experience on Facecrook is to be manipulated, lied to, surveilled, and ripped off. Those are not good things. Stop defending them as though they are.

And no, Facecrook is not my fault.

@hhardy01 @byron Your rather harsh wording doesn't change anything about the fact that apparently *you* joined Facebook too and collected a significant amount of contacts there. Why? It was a walled garden from day one, it was *known* to be a walled garden and everything but open internet. I appreciate and respect ...

@hhardy01 @byron ... your points of view - but the majority of people will simply ignore them. You'll not do anything to protect the free internet this way.

@hhardy01 @byron ... about WhatsApp and Facebook literally for ages. Did it change anything? No! Perhaps we should reconsider our attitude and communication towards end users.

@z428 @byron

What I'm doing is talking to you as I would a friend.

And the first rule of persuasion is to get people's attention. Just as I got yours.

Confronting someone is often the best and most effective way to persuading them. Particularly when challenging a habitual and unexamined behavior.

Also, using "we" as in "why don't we do this now" is extremely patronizing. You won't persuade anyone of anything like that.

@frankiesaxx @pettter
Like distant islands sundered by the sea
We had no sense of one community
We lived and worked apart and rarely knew
That others searched with us for knowledge too
Distant ARPA spurred us in our quest
And for our part we worked and put to test
New thoughts and theories of computing art
We deemed it science not, but made a start

Let links be built; machines and men be paired!
Let distance be no barrier! They set
That goal design and built the ARPANET!


I hadn't heard it said that way. Spot on.

Now the question is whether or not the old way can still happen in the world created by the new mistakes.


Usenet was a pedo honeypot, now Facebook serves that purpose doubleplusgood. Why has there been no mass peace protest movement in this country like during the Vietnam war? #cointelpro, son


Dude lol I'm 59 years old I'm def not your "son."

USENET wasn't a government project at all. What kind of game are you playing here spreading all this disinformation and lies?


People used to have PRODIGY and Compu$erve and AOL too - there's a demand always for walled gardens.

I am hopeful for Mastodon as the sort of federated system that might reinvigorate some of the spirit of USENET, especially those nodes that are smaller and htat have some kind of a theme.

(And hi btw, good to see you here.)

@hhardy01 maybr you should ask why facebook replaced these things? why it was ABLE to replace these things?

its providing something for people that existing platforms didn't, and ignoring that means people aren't going to budge.


Is it because Facebook was better than other social networks that it became so big? Or is it simply that one social network had to be the first to reach network synergy where the value of the network started to vastly exceed the sum of the individual parts and FB happened to be it for a while?

Is FB still going to grow and grow, or have we now reached peak FB and it will decline?

@hhardy01 @chr They did focus on user experience at a time when MySpace was intentionally logging its users out so they'd have to look at the full page ad on the login screen, but they (FB) also had a built-in growth strategy from starting out as the facebook of various universities.

@hhardy01 @chr They did focus on user experience at a time when MySpace was intentionally logging its users out so they'd have to look at the full page ad on the login screen, but they (FB) also had a built-in growth strategy from starting out as the facebook of various universities.

@chr @hhardy01 The latter, and the former. Facebook is a whisper away from being as necessary as an email address.

@hhardy01 @Dex I dunno; I don't think Facebook replaced very much. For technically savvy people, sure, for sharing photos or in place of blogs. But it also enabled a lot of people to share photos primarily (I'm going to focus basically only on that) easily with their family.

As you said, it was monetized and crappy from the start, a bad beginning. A better start exists, I'm certain; it's still not the easiest thing for a standard mom and dad to start a site to share photos with family.

@hhardy01 @Dex I believe anything "replacing" Facebook is inherently wrong until it can start in the right way. Diaspora seemed like that, in the same way as Mastodon/GNUSocial vs Birdsite, but it didn't seem to catch on? It sort of died after the kickstarter it felt like. =(

@hhardy01 or "what are the parts of facebook people like" -- break the big tool into many small tools, keep the parts you like and toss the ones you don't

GNU Social is objectively better than FB / Twitter's timeline


Um, not the people who really used Facebook.

It's the 90/9/1 rule.
1% of people are super active and a driving force in any community
9% of people are the visible voice and contribute
90% of the community consume what the other 10% make

The early internet was mostly inhabited by creators and enthusiast, a very small audience. In the last couple decades of popular awareness consumers vastly outpace creators. Most people will /never/ create their own web content.


I understand your point that the early users on the Net were very tech friendly and that average users of today might have different characteristics.

But Facebook is a website; when people post things on FB they are creating web content. It is in a surveillance capitalism corporate walled garden and there is very little control over format or how the information is aggregated and used. If people can create content without the surveillance one thinks many would do so.


I don't think FB is particularly accessible or user-friendly in terms of giving the user control over their site and their data.

@hhardy01 thats a typical tech person response.

you're deliberately misinterpreting me because you want to go back to an imaginary world where everyone is a tech nerd and no one has to worry about accesibility

@zeezeemoomoo @hhardy01 FWIW there were tools like AOL and Netcruiser that made Usenet extremely accessible because they just had a "Usenet" button that would take you to a curated list of newsgroups. Unfortunately this also led to the downfall of Usenet, since it was very open and dependent on the fact that it was growing relatively slowly, so the number of "newbies" who didn't understand netiquette was small relative to the number of experienced folks.


You are right that in my heart I would like to go back to where the distinction was between "sysadmins" and "users" instead of "giagantic megacorps to whom you are not the customer, you are the product" and users.

I would like to point out that the net as strictly non-commercial went from 1969 to 1994, which is 25 years.

I do think accessibility is important, I am in favor of accessibility and empowering everyone. I just do not see FB as empowering. I see it as exploiting.


you want to get rid of something widely used and useable and replace it with unuseable shit

maybe thats why its hard to get people be on the side of privacy


We are talking on Mastodon, not on Facebook. I don't get what you mean by unusable shit?

@hhardy01 Then you're arguing those things should replace Facebook. "replace Facebook" means "be the new way people share baby pictures and passive aggressive comments about each other's weight", not necessarily a monolithic entity.

(Further the uncensorability of usenet is as much a bug as it is a feature. Between spam and 4chan culture the days when you didn't have to be able to remove crap are long gone.)


Yeah we have the greatest invention of humanity since writing here. We can use it for more and better things than only cat pictures and weight comments, surely. :)

Facebook is just a website full of spyware and adware. Plays very tiny violin for Facebook. :)

@hhardy01 So, you're arrogant enough that you think the average person shouldn't be allowed to communicate online, because they're not a supernerd? That's the only way I can read what you're saying.

It's the same stuff that very slightly savvier but still pretty much just passive users were throwing around on email before Facebook came along. Heck, it's much of what people sent using snail mail and telephones. Should we make those hard to use too?


So why are you here and not on Facebook now?

@hhardy01 Because I personally don't really care for most of what is on Facebook. That doesn't mean I think people who like that stuff shouldn't be able to communicate.

@hhardy01 So, yes. You do think those people should be banned from communicating. Got it, bye.

@hhardy01 holy macarony. This has 400 retoots.
On the fediverse I have no sense of scale