Some people might find the answer to be obvious (yes) but I’ve rarely found it so. In fact, this is a question I often find in the linux community (regarding linux going mainstream, not lemmy) and people are pretty split upon it.
On one hand, you may get benefits like more activity, more content, more people to interact with, a greater chance you’ll find someone to talk to on some specific subject.
On the other, you could run into an eternal September like reddit, where Lemmy would lose its culture, and have far more spam and moderation issues.
I don’t know, what do you think?
A loosely moderated place to ask open ended questions
If your post is
it’s welcome here!
I think it’s important for Lemmy, as well as other efforts such as Mastodon, to become mainstream because we need social media platforms that are answerable to regular people as opposed to corporate interests.
For better or worse, social media has become an invaluable tool and an integral part of our society. It’s a way for people to get news and to discuss it with their peers as well as a tool for education.
Commercial platforms have the most users, and are increasingly being used for political organization. This is a natural development, since organizing always begins where the people are. However, we must remember who owns these platforms and whose interests they ultimately represent. These are not neutral and unbiased channels that allow for the free flow of information. The content on these sites is carefully curated. Views and opinions that are unpalatable to the owners of these platforms are often suppressed, and sometimes outright banned.
Some examples include Facebook banning antifascist pages and Twitter banning left-wing accounts during the midterm elections in US. When the content that the user produce does not fit with the interests of the platform it gets removed and communities end up being destroyed. This is clearly a problem for any meaningful organizing.
Another problem is that user data constitutes a significant source of revenue for corporate social media platforms. The information collected about the users is referred to as metadata, and it can reveal a lot more about the individual than most people realize. It’s possible for the owners of the platforms to identify users based on the address of the device they’re using, see their location, who they interact with, and so on. This creates a comprehensive profile of the person along with the network of individuals whom they interact with.
This information is shared with the affiliates of the platform as well as government entities. A recent RCMP leak showed how this kind of information is used to spy on Canadian citizens.
It’s clear that commercial platforms do not respect user privacy, nor are the users in control of their content. While it’s important to participate on such platforms in order to agitate, educate, and recruit comrades, they should not be seen as a safe space for people on the left to organize.
Open source platforms provide an alternative to corporate social media. These platforms are developed on a non-profit basis and are hosted by volunteers across the globe. A growing number of such platforms are available today and millions of people are using them already.
All these platforms are developed in the open, and the developers themselves are often left-wing activists (as is the case with Mastodon and Lemmy). These platforms explicitly avoid tracking users and collecting their data. Not only are these platforms better at respecting user privacy, they also tend to provide a better user experience without annoying ads and popups.
Another interesting aspect of the Fediverse is that it promotes collaboration. Traditional commercial platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube have no incentive to allow users to move data between them. They directly compete for users in a zero sum game and go out of their way to make it difficult to share content across them. This is the reason we often see screenshots from one site being posted on another.
On the other hand, a federated network that’s developed in the open and largely hosted non-profit results in a positive-sum game environment. Users joining any of the platforms on the network help grow the entire network.
Having many different sites hosted by individuals was the way the internet was intended to work in the first place, it’s actually quite impressive how corporations took the open network of the internet and managed to turn it into a series of walled gardens. Marxist theory states that in order to be free, the workers must own the means of production. This idea is directly applicable in the context of social media. Only when we own the platforms that we use will we be free to post our thoughts and ideas without having to worry about them being censored by corporate interests.
It’s time for us to get serious about owning our tools and start using communication platforms built by the people and for the people. This is the only way to guard against corporate threats to worker organization.
While I agree with everything you said, there are some big hurdles standing in the way of mainstream adoption.
I personally find the fediverse to be a superior alternative and the answer to a call of saving the internet, taking it back to it’s origins, and pushing forward with modernity to make all the right moves, and for that reason deeply wish they had been invented in the early 2000s, before corporations took over the internet.
Yes, Mastodon had a huge momentum with millions of subscribers because of high profile users getting pissed with twitter, but Mastodon has since stagnated in user registration and all of the high profile users has since returned to Twitter because of audience reach.
Another problem is the content. Since these platforms are mainly used by leftist political users, and not oriented towards content creators, there is no incentive for ‘commoners’ to adopt the services.
Then comes the final issue, which is monetary gain by users. The primary attraction of the various platforms is the monetary gains potential for creators.
Twitter is especially big with artists (and businesses + high profiles/politicians), as twitter is a humanizing platform that, like Mastodon, lets you shout into the void and have people interact with you, your identity, and your opinion. The big names on Twitter can talk directly to their listeners (and profit from it as a secondary mechanic to fame). And the listeners can always keep up with their people of interest. I feel Mastodon cannot achieve the same results for various reasons (albeit, I would say Mastodon already today have replaced the utility of Facebook, and while facebook have shifted away from the personal stream/pages to focus on ‘marketplace’ and ‘groups’ to try maintain relevance; groups itself is a poor imitation of a single-flow forum like Reddit, and frankly, ‘marketplace’ sucks). So, to the issues I have with Mastodon:
Reddit is kinda crap. In my opinion it is a poor imitation of traditional forums. Where sub-forums are user-moderated forum sections, and we essentially just got rid of the categorical organization entity, making it more streamlined and always “latest news”. Yes, I know the goal of reddit is to be a news aggregator, and for that design, it’s fantastic. But, the downside is how reddit grew to replace traditional forums in the mind of the public. Which has lead to information management essentially being lost. This is especially noticeable in hobby subs. Granted, the whole reason for reddit’s success is the constant flow of new information, the ‘user attention’, which is the entire goal of a platform selling ads. People won’t move back to traditional forums, I understand that, but, when you go to a hobby forum, for say, guppies, every day 80% of all new posts are “is she pregnant?”, which literally can only be answered with YES. Guppies mate nonstop and any female exposed to a male carry his semen for up to 12 months. She is 99% likely to be pregnant within the year, even if she is moved to an isolated tank. …so yeah, my point is that, Reddit is not a good replacement for traditional forums, but has become one (shared with Facebook groups), and that is why Lemmy is actually the better platform. Lemmy allows users to host instances with specific interests, and has better moderation tools, the weakness of such a system is the lack of a central point. i.e. multiple instances with the same content topic could weaken the user growth potential.
YouTube…let’s face it. It’s big because it’s profitable. PeerTube cannot compete. If content creators can’t generate an income from PeerTube, then YouTube will always remain the primary platform. I don’t know what can be done about this, I also don’t like how PeerTube works. I mean, it doesn’t feel as streamlined as YouTube. In the case of PeerTube, it is not a replacement, and can’t be, both because of the federated nature and split between instances, and because of the lack of monetization available for its content creators - as, unlike other platforms, meaningful content creation for this particular platform is incredibly time consuming.
CMS/Blogging… well I mean, it doesn’t really matter. I like that writefreely exists, I’ve even paid a few months subscription for write.as as I like the project a lot. Sure, a lot could be done to enhance the experience, and help curate content and reach your reader base on-platform. But blogging is itself a medium that, what is needed, is not another platform (Wordpress is also available on the fediverse), what is missing, is a platform like Medium. The curation of meaningful content for your reader experience.
Instagram… Honestly, I don’t even know what justifies the existence of this platform. What can be done on instagram, could as easily be done on Twitter. The main draw people have to instagram, I suppose, is the ability to generate followers and become an “influencer” and make profits. Instagram in and off itself has no real meaning as there is no way to manage image flow or truly utilize it for exposure. It’s not really about image sharing either. Sure, it sets a standard, but you can’t share real experiences, because people don’t actually care about those experiences, unless you’re “important”, which, again, Twitter serves better to channel communication. So what has potential, is just… a gimmick without purpose, that people pretend has purpose, because, uh. Reasons. Whatever it is instagram set out to do, I feel pixelfed could be used as a functional base; as it is integrated to the fediverse, and the flow could therefore be integrated with your wider fediverse communication. But, do we really need pixelfed? Pixelfed suffers from the same indexing and exposure issue as the rest of the fediverse (which, ones addressed, would make it a proper instagram replacement, and do whatever it is instagram does, but better), but for now, it is difficult to curate content, and without an app it just can’t move out of the box where it sits.
Tiktok - same stupidity as instagram. We don’t need it. It has no purpose other than spam to generate followers to become an influencer, to make profits. If anything, it’s a flow that you can “scroll” to avoid boredom. I understand that people want this kind of passive pass-time, but why can’t we just all pick up a game or read something? So much more productive. A combination of both TikTok and Instagram into “pixelfed”, and a way to curate content and sync your fediverse accounts though, that could be a remedy of utility.
Pinterest is a great resource for hobbyists looking for inspiration or to find people on other platforms through their shared image links. Pinterest is an odd one, because it’s also a really good platform to promote your content and resources. In and off itself, it is essentially a haven for aristry in a way that works just… better. Than instagram ever could. For the purpose both of self promotion and for image sharing. But, I don’t see how this would help the fediverse. It does not need to be part of the fediverse, as I can’t see how it would be integrated without actually defeating the point of integration (to promote your fediverse stuff). It could easily be part of pixelfeds structure to service both Pinterest, TikTok, and instagram. To be a unique multi-purpose platform for collecting, viewing, and sharing graphical media - this way, Mastodon and PeerTube would not have to directly cater to content producers, as they would sync their content through this platform.
For a YouTube alternative, there is LBRY, though I don’t know much about how well it really pays, particularly in comparison to YouTube. That said, creators can post paid content, and I think users can setup a monthly tip to the channel, or even tip a creator’s video if they want.
Don’t know if the devs have set up any kind of payment system based on views though.
I think LBRY is a very good answer to the current limitations of PeerTube, and there is a payment system based on views, activity, and production. Even viewers get paid for viewing. But the SEC pretty much killed it a few months back. It’s losing nearly all of its momentum and I’m not sure how they intend to recover. They’ve also had problems with payouts (I never got my 50 free LBC from the beta test, and when I brought it up to the admins, they deleted the offer).
Yeah, I agree with everything you’re saying. I don’t really expect fediverse to displace commercial platforms any time soon, and the fact that it’s much easier for content creator to monetize their content.
That said, I think fediverse is now big enough that it’s not going anywhere. It’s also worth noting that open source has a very different dynamic from commercial platforms. Projects can survive with little or no commercial incentive because they’re developed by people who themselves benefit from their work. Projects can also be easily forked and taken in different directions by different groups of users if there is a disagreement regarding the direction of the platform. Even when projects become abandoned, they can be picked up again by new teams as long as there is an interested community of users around them. All of that makes open source far more resilient than commercial platforms. If a company runs out of money then it folds and the platform goes away. Fediverse just needs to have a big enough user base to be self sustaining, and I think we’re well past that point already.
I would also argue that a lot of things that make commercial platforms attractive are actually negatives. A lot of the viral content is often just sponsored advertisements in disguise. Prominent content creators end up shilling for companies while disguising it as being educational content. Veritasium running propaganda for self driving car companies is a good recent example of that. I think any solutions that focus on fast growth will end up creating similar problems in the fediverse as well.
…ran out of letters. apparently there’s a 10k limit.
Facebook is dying, there is no denying that. They’re currently trying their best to stay relevant, but they have nothing to offer. The stream died the moment they added the algorithmic display of the flow and people have since moved to other services for that. Photo sharing they outcompeted themselves with through Instagram, and groups is as said, a poor imitation of reddit. What people use though, is marketplace. What people also use though, is Messenger/Whatsapp. In an ideal world, Matrix would be tied to the fediverse as the protocol for instant messaging. Another huge hurdle that maintains facebooks relevance is “Facebook limited” - which, in may third world countries without net neutrality, is the primary “internet” used by users. In these places, Facebook pays the private ISPs to provide Facebook for free, which allows people to use Facebook as a form of ‘internet’ through pages, marketplace, messenger, etc as their daily driver. In these places, Facebook has monopoly of information on the “internet” through their local languages, because it is the only thing people have access to without paying ISP subscription rates that often cost an entire months salary. Facebooks relevance is because they can afford to keep forcing these people to use their platform as their internet, and in turn, profit from corporations promoting and marketing their products through Facebook. Here is for hoping facebooks virtual reality nonsense won’t get anywhere, but tech nerds are sure to promote it, and there is no competition for it, yet. Which will allow Facebook to dominate the ‘metaverse’.
Anyway. I’ve kinda gotten off the rail somewhere here. I don’t know what I originally set out to discuss, other than my desire for the fediverse to fix many of the issues our corporate internet currently has. To reclaim the global network of people, and make us come together, in a way that is not filtered by the wealthy and powerful.
I think it’s going to be a long fight to reclaim public spaces from corporate control, but it’s good to see the beginnings of this happening today. We might not see corporations dethroned in the near future, but we can aim to have our own spaces that aren’t privately owned and that gives us a beachhead to operate from. We have to take a long view of things to win this fight.
I don’t think it’s that impressive when you consider:
And slowly the cycle takes over [most] of the web.
Yeah, the web has become just a handful of corporate websites and that really needs to change going forward.
I’m not entirely sure that social media sites should be considered the biggest risk. CDN’s (Content Delivery Networks) can track you all across the internet. Mastodon was using a CDN. I contend that the https is designed to authenticate the correctness of the metadata sites are collecting on you and not to make your daily browsing more secure.
CDNs are also an important problem, but I do think that public forums being privately owned is the biggest danger we face right now.
CDNs are such an important pice of the Internet backbone, isn’t there a way to ensure that tracking doesn’t happen or at least minimize it? The same goes for ISPs, it would be quite hard to have the Internet without them.
I would imagine the only way to do this is through alternative internet protocols. Tor, I2P, FreeNet, ZeroNet, GNUnet, Yggdrasil, etc.
Maybe something like IPFS could be used in place of conventional CDNs?
Creative minds will always find a way to track you. There needs to be serious consequences or the invisible people doing it will keep doing it.
This was incredibly well put. Whole-heartedly agree