back to article What do we want? Decentralised, non-siloed social media with open standards! When do we want it? Soon!

The other Wikipedia co-founder has called for a 48-hour boycott of all social media platforms to demonstrate users' desire to regain control of their data and privacy. On 4-5 July, and for at least one day, Larry Sanger has implored people to snub social media platforms except for posts showing that they are on strike. Jimmy …

  1. and I

    Just quit these cesspits

    FB free for some years now and I don't regret it one bit. I still have a social life, I still talk to my friends and family, despite living abroad. I may not see what that long lost collage pal is up to but if we meet we have something to talk about. It just felt FB was an evil tamagotchi sucking up time just to make me feel bad.

    FB and co are just using you and getting rich by selling you down the river, just give these jokers the finger and quit.

    1. idoxde

      Re: Just quit these cesspits

      "...that long lost collage pal..."

      If he's long lost then it's like the nature sorting itself out. Good pals don't get lost, the rest should stay as good memories.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Just quit these cesspits

      Yes, I've been "on strike" from Facebook for over 3 years - I had to create an account at a previous job, because the CEO made me the social media manager. When I left the company, I deleted the account straight away. In fact, all Facebook domains (over 1,500) are blocked by my DNS server.

      I haven't logged onto Twitter for probably a year either.

      I'm on LinkedIn and Xing (German language version of LinkedIn), but not active.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just quit these cesspits

      I dumped them years ago when yet-another-change to their policies prompted me to actually read them.

      I wasn't a heavy user anyway as I'm not really into self-advertising (I don't take selfies either :) ), but after that read I did a last data download and ended the account. Not been near it since, and companies that use Facebook/Twitter as their customer interface now automatically fail our vendor validation process - I won't have people forcing social media use in my supply chain either.

  2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Need funding

    Decentralizing is possible but it needs money. It's going to take a lot of Software Engineers and Architects, Product Designers, IT staff, and even Marketing to get it started. I don't think volunteer efforts can be sustained enough or coordinated enough to make it happen.

    This would be a good time to start breaking away from the "everything must be free" mentality of Linux. I think a mix of commercial and free software is the only way to go. Commercial software can produce the level of polish and easy of use that people must have for certain tasks. Android gets this right.

    1. Dick Kennedy

      Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

      Decentralising has been done - Mastodon, Diaspora, Hubzilla. But they're systems only nerds could love and their creators seem to move on whenever they get bored and come up with the next cool wheeze. What's needed is for some organisation (not necessarily commercial) to put some weight behind one of them and make it friendly to non-geek civilians.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

        Decentralising has been done - Mastodon, Diaspora, Hubzilla. But they're systems only nerds could love

        As opposed to the current popular stuff like Facebook that only twats could love.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

          Well, no, he does have a point. This is also what things like LibreOffice and most Linux desktops lack: decent design. Geeks have a tendency to overlook complexity, but the most important design lesson ever shown was the one that Apple took to the way we use smartphones.

          Smartphones already existed (and I should know, as I've been using them from pretty much the first day they existed - I even had the first Nokia Communicator), but Apple made them usable to the point that they broke the telco stranglehold on which phones were allowed on their networks and who got the revenue for it.

          We're now so used to have a pokable slab that we poke at that we forget that it wasn't like this before. From a general usability perspective, Apple rewrote the rules, all of it through usability.

          If I see what ^%$^$# pain a user has to go through to install or update a non-English version of LibreOffice I am amazed that it even gets downloaded again - the process is ridiculously complex for Joe End User. If I see their UI it just hurts, ditto for Evolution (but that's functionally so deficient that the UI matters less). In the days of Window managers, "E" (Enlightenment) did a good job making it look good (visual design), but usability sucked. Make it look pretty and they will come, make it usable as well and they'll stay - voluntarily.

          1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

            > This is also what things like LibreOffice and most Linux desktops lack: decent design

            LibreOffice is complex? Really? Its a word processor that still uses the good old "correct" way of giving users menus. ANY child from the late 90's has used these in IT class and will have no issue with them.

            Trust me, I saw the fallout when that damn ribbon came in Word et al. Well we still have issues, even myself in IT is having to spend ages exploring coloured pixels to see if clicking one does something so that I can sort out this users signature.

            The you say that the Linux desktop is complex? Again, seriously?

            Every one of the 90's kids, i.e the ones earning the money in their households now they have grown up, used Windows XP. Some used Win NT, at school, every day (I started in 1995 with RISC OS on an Acorn). None of them will find any of the Linux desktops (maybe except GNOME) difficult to use. The concept of having a "start" menu is used in these desktops, its the same paradigm as used by every human going to school in the late 90's and 2000's. Microsoft tried to ditch it in windows 8 and look what happened.

            Most of the users I deal with have issues using smartphones:

            User: "My email isnt working again"

            Me: "Did your password get changed?"

            User: "Yes I changed it a few days ago, since then I have no emails"

            Me: "check the notifications for the one asking for your new password"

            User: "What notifications"

            Me: "In the notification drawer you can pull down from the top"

            User: "Where is the top? I cant see a drawer"

            Me: "Swipe down the screen from the top"

            User: "Nothing happens, oh facebook has just opened"

            Me: "I'll take a look." So I go off, walk all the way to the users desk just to swipe down the notifications drawer and tap the "Outlook needs your password" notification. Once the user enters the password they look at me like I'm Einstein.

            Then I frequently get this, again with your "simple to use" smartphones:

            User: "My phone is not syncing with my laptop, I cant see my meetings in the calendar when I add them on the phone"

            Me: "Thats strange, are you getting emails on the phone?"

            User: "Yes and I'm getting reminders about meetings if they are added on the laptop"

            Me: "Are you adding your new meetings into the Outlook calendar on your phone, or on the phones calendar? You must add stuff you want to sync to the outlook one."

            User: "Theres more than one calendar?"

            Me: "Yes take a look at your calendar list and see which one you have open"

            User: "Wheres that?"

            Me: "Open the menu, you might have to swipe left if you are on the latest Ios"

            User: "Nothing happens. Whats an ios? I cant see a menu. Oh wait, I think I found a panel thing that comes in when I swipe like you said"

            Me: "Cool, can you see a list of calendars in there?"

            User: "In where?"

            Me: "The panel."

            User: "No, the panel thing has text in it but it keeps moving back to the left, I cant read it as it wont stay there. Oh, the screen has changed. I pressed one of the buttons on the bottom and now I have a lot of pictures that look like apps and they move when I touch the screen."

            Me: "Hang on" So I go off and switch calendars for the user, again they look at me like I'm Einstein. I'm beginning to feel like Reginald Perrin by now.

            I have also had a user who had somehow set her phone to only display contacts that were stored on the phone and not the ones from outlook. She was in quite a state thinking that someone was deleting her business contacts. Till I went over and opened the menu and ticked the outlook address book.

            Then I've had people call me up as they somehow triggered a full wipe of the company issued ipad and they use it to play spotify in the pub, to the customers, To have music and happy customers tonight this ipad needs re-configuring, over the phone. Thats not a very easy thing to do when they literally are confused why the ipad says and does stuff as we set it up.

            NONE of these issues are had with their win 10 laptops. Any issues with those are due to actual real problems worthy of my time. Maybe its:

            - The TPM playing up so bitlocker wont unlock at boot. Easily resolved by giving them the recovery key and scheduling a bit of TLC for the laptop where we update all the firmware that is known to fix the issue.

            - Hardware issues, fixed by next day on site repair.

            - Software issues that simply need a reboot and possibly a couple of updates to finally resolve them.

            - Issues with their internet / router / lan that need resolving or bits replacing.

            - They may need us to type in the admin password so the printer driver can install.

            None of them have any real silly issues in actually using the machines. Sometimes they call up wondering why their printer looks to be offline and we help debug it or they call up saying their laptop and vpn password are out of sync. None of them ask "whats the start menu" "where do I find word" "how to I restart" "how do I connect to wifi".

            All of them can use a traditional desktop environment (as close to traditional win 10 is) and none of them had issues with win 7 and none will have issues with any modern linux desktop besides simply getting familiar with where things may be.

            BUT every iphone, ipad or android device causes issues due to insane usability choices. Even some of the younger ones have no clue about how to view the correct contacts or the correct calendar. All they know is how to post and like stuff on facebook.

            So you think smartphones are simple to use? If I had my way everyone would be using a cheap feature phone for work.I shouldnt have to be thought of as a reincarnation of Einstein just because I know how to view notifications.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Need funding

      "Android gets this right."

      I don't know about that. Android has become insufferable enough that I won't be buying another Android device.

      1. ds6 Bronze badge

        Re: Need funding

        Install Lineage, Replicant or plain ol' AOSP. Despite the internals of Android being half reasonable cruft and half horrifying nightmare, I have found myself repeatedly drawn to the simplicity of a barebones distribution—that I then kit out with my favorite F-Droid apps. I even put it on a Rock64 to use as a media center for my living room; cheaper and more customizable (also boots Alpine Linux) than a FireWhatsit, and more secure too.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "Android gets this right."

      Ehm, do you know the level of slurping Android is built on and for, don't you? Facebook just tries to get the same data without buying an OS.

    4. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Need funding

      I don't think volunteer efforts can be sustained enough or coordinated enough to make it happen.

      So in your universe, Wikipedia, Gnu, Linux, Python, R, etc,etc,etc are impossible?

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Late to the party

    I was saying this many moons ago. I guess wikichivo isn't read all that much.

    1. chuckufarley
      Terminator

      Re: Late to the party

      Only slightly more than the chuckuwiki.

      I have not logged into one these sights for years now. If I really want to talk to someone on a regular basis I give them access to my Mumble server. It has encryption on the VOIP packets and then encryption on the VPN. If I want to share a picture with you I'll send a share link via my NextCloud server.

      1. Louis Schreurs

        Re: Late to the party

        Site

        Sight

        Sigh

        1. chuckufarley

          Re: Late to the party

          You forgot:

          Shite

      2. SWCD

        Re: Late to the party

        Works in real life too. A few times I've had great chat going on with ladies down the pub, and at the end of the night offered access to my mumble server. Pretty sure one day they'll come back to me when they work out what one is.

  4. steelpillow Silver badge

    It's the protocols, stupid

    What this needs is an open standard for the protocols linking the user app to the social service (sic). User downloads fave app A, uses it to defacebook service B and/or maybe C, and mates read it using app D.

    Tim Berners-Lee, are you listening here?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: It's the protocols, stupid

      Basically IRC is all you need. Which is why the messengers are increasingly replacing "social media" except for those who want "follow" celebrities. This is why Google bought Instagram and WhatsApp and why Google continues to throw money at YouTube.

  5. jpo234

    There is really long list of failed Facebook alternatives. Sure, make it longer.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      It’s not a Faecebook alternative that is needed. It’s a standard where I can use a client that can take a feed or several feeds from “friends” on Faecebook, and feeds from Instagram and feeds from that other social media and twitter and the rest. So you can choose your preferred one and your associates can choose theirs and you don’t have to be fenced off from then.

      Then you wouldn’t need to open a different app depending on you you need to communicate with. You wouldn’t need to feel left out because you ethically feel you can’t be part of a chavvy scummy movement like Faecebook.

      Same goes for messaging, What’s crap for one person, messenger for someone else, telegram for someone else, SMS for mum, Discord for your brother etc. Just fucking stupid.

      SMS is still alive because it’s ubiquitous.

      1. ds6 Bronze badge
        Mushroom

        Poo and feed in the same sentence. The brown pill is the last thing I needed to be reminded of right now, no matter how descriptive of Facebook and its users it may be.

        ('Eat this' icon.)

      2. jpo234

        Welcome to the ultimate filter bubble.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boycott? More like normal for many of us

    A boycott from Facebook where I don't read or write any posts for ~48 hours? That's my normal life about 2 or 3 times a week.

    I usually make my posts on Fridays, but if I have to wait until Saturday, that works too.

    See? Doesn't impact my life very much. Boycotts don't work!

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Boycott? More like normal for many of us

      Not to mention all the people who, like myself, already avoid all social media like the plague that it is.

  7. Not Enough Coffee

    decentralised, interoperable social media platform

    Usenet was kind of like this. But I doubt it would work again - I can see endless ad posts in every group.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: decentralised, interoperable social media platform

      I agree.

      Isn't it interesting how, in hindsight, Usenet news turned out to be the high point of social media systems?

      Killing Usenet was one of the earliest Terrible Things that Google did.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: decentralised, interoperable social media platform

        Killed it in the most evil way possible. They broadcast hundreds of spams per group per day out to the rest of the world but filtered it from display on Google Groups. Some groups were getting 300+ spams a day from phishing bots on Chinanet-FJ using Google - the Nike spammer.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: decentralised, interoperable social media platform

      I agree also. Maybe we can find some horrible punishment for those posting ads. Five years of hard time on Comcast's help desk perhaps? Or maybe a year and a day as Donald Trump's press secretary.

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: decentralised, interoperable social media platform

      I agree also. Maybe we can find some horrible punishment for those posting ads. Five years of hard time on Comcast's help desk perhaps? Or maybe a year and a day as Donald Trump's press secretary.

  8. Danny Boyd
    Facepalm

    People go on the social media to socialize, meaning blabber things about themselves, their relatives, friends and acquaintances. What privacy are we talking about when the central function of social media is publication and dissemination of private (sometimes false) information? You can make a social media platform distributed, open-sourced, whatever. The implementation details. Its central function will still be the same.

    People who value their privacy simply don't post anything on social media. Don't look for privacy where it can't be found by definition.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      "What privacy are we talking about when the central function of social media is publication and dissemination of private (sometimes false) information?"

      Privacy regarding all of the things that people aren't choosing to share publicly, perhaps.

      "People who value their privacy simply don't post anything on social media."

      It's not so black and white -- nobody who engages with society in any way (whether or not through social media) is expecting 100% privacy. The issue is autonomy and consent. Just because I may choose to share something publicly in no way means that I should have to share everything about me.

      And we haven't even started talking about the privacy invasions that the likes of Facebook engage in toward people who don't use the service at all.

  9. RustyDubz

    ActivityPub already exists.

    Mastodon, Pleroma, PeerTube, Pixelfed all federate and interoperate using the ActvityPub protocol: https://www.w3.org/TR/activitypub/

    You can sign up to a Mastodon instance at joinmastodon.org right now. Of course, pursuading your friends, family, pets, etc. to switch as well is a little more difficult.

  10. Carma

    "whom I don't trust as far as I could kick him"

    I'd have to find out just how far I could kick him to make a judgement on that one....

    A lot of people say they wouldn't urinate on Zuckerberg if he was on fire - i'm happy to say that I would!

    1. Donchik
      Coat

      Re: "whom I don't trust as far as I could kick him"

      Doesn't need to actually be on fire to justify that!

    2. Louis Schreurs

      Re: "whom I don't trust as far as I could kick him"

      And aim for Suck’s mouth.

    3. Public Citizen
      Trollface

      Re: "whom I don't trust as far as I could kick him"

      Some of us would provide the accelerate and matches to start the party.

  11. Public Citizen
    Black Helicopters

    #SocialMediaStrike=Fail

    For me to make a sincere attempt at engaging in a "strike of Social Media" I would first have to become a participant in the black hole of timewasting and data suck that is Fakebook et al.

    I plan to engage in my normal routine where certain very select chat boards will be graced by my presence, without all the sturm, drang, and Drama Queenery that represents all to much of S.M.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: #SocialMediaStrike=Fail

      "without all the sturm, drang, and Drama Queenery that represents all to much of S.M."

      And yet you still post here?

  12. TheSmokingArgus

    Decentralization is already here, Bitchute, Gab.ai, Dissenter Browser, IPFS, the great pilgrimage is already underway.

  13. David Lawton

    I quit Facebook, then went back because i was the awkward one when people tried to organise things like stag parties via Facebook groups. Now the bulk of the traffic for some of my favourite communities which have their own websites and forums are going to Facebook groups instead which just makes me mad.

    I've settled on just having the messenger app installed on my mobile using it as a kind of contacts/address book, and maybe once a week going on the Facebook webpage to check the groups. I would not miss Facebook its self if i deleted my account again, its just everybody else seems to be there now which makes not having an account harder. I just hope Facebook has hit its peak and its more downhill from now.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Every time I hear a tale like yours, I am reminded of how lucky I am that none of my friends or family rely exclusively on Facebook to organize anything.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He is asking participants sign the Declaration of Digital Independence, drafted by Sanger

    presumably, this shameless attempt at self-promotion was a double fail, i.e. not only people didn't go on fb strike by posting on fb they're on fb strike, but they didn't even bother to click, let alone, upvote on fb?

  15. Nick Kew

    Fighting against history.

    Once upon a time, I heard that message from Eben Moglen. I said back then, it's a nice idea, but history is against it.

    Yes, I lament the loss of the commons, to the extent that I've always refused to sign up with facebook (or twitter). I would support what Sanger is calling for, and have said so myself before now. But I don't see a way to fight history and get there. If Sanger thinks this'll work then good for him, but I'm sceptical. And since I'm not on Facebook et al in the first place, I can't even participate.

    On the other hand, my suggestion to Moglen in 2011 was that he needed to focus on mindshare, communicators, the mainstream media. Perhaps that's exactly what Sanger is doing?

  16. e^iπ+1=0

    #SocialMediaStrike

    Where do I post this if I don't have a social media account?

    Am I too late to sign up for Google+?

    I'd like to support the cause.

  17. The Nazz Silver badge

    Talking of kicking.

    The story goes that a party of lawyers were away on a shooting break.

    Lawyer hears a quack, quack, raises his gun and "Boom" the duck falls to earth, in a nearby field.

    He's just about to step over the fence to retrieve the duck when he hears a voice "Oi, what yer doing, that's my land, keep off".

    "But it's my duck" he says, "I just bagged it."

    "That maybe so" says the farmer "but it's still my land and you'd be trespassing".

    "Look here old bean, i'm a leading QC and if you don't let me have my duck i'll sue you in the High Court. And i must tell you, i have many friends in the Judiciary. You'll be ruined."

    "Now, now" says the farmer, "no need for that. 'Round here we have a more friendly way of settling small disputes."

    "Pray tell, what's that old bean."

    "Well, we have a kicking match, take turns to kick the other and the last man standing wins."

    The lawyer, 6'3" 18 stone looks at the scrawny farmer, thinks i'll win this easily and says "Ok, you're on."

    Then the farmer adds "we also have a local rule that as it's my land i get the first kick."

    "Go on then old bean, do your worst" says the lawyer bracing himself.

    The farmer takes a step back and launches a vicious kick right into the nutsack of the lawyer who crumples to the ground in agony, guts retching, eyes rolling, steam coming out of his ears. Gasping for breath for a few minutes, his head starts to clear and his eyes re-focus, eventually he gets to his feet.

    "Right then old bean, it's my turn now" says the lawyer.

    "Nah, you win, it's only a duck, you can have it" says the farmer.

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