This post was updated on November 17, 2022 reflecting a new address, removing Keybase from the verification section, linking to Pixelfed’s new registration, and addressing formatting changes that were not addressed during a prior upgrade of Misintelligence.
I’m not talking about the United Federation of Planets, but instead something that is real today. You’ve probably heard me talk about this quite a bit already, but out of concern for family and other people around me, I’m going to talk about it again. The problem is Zuckerburg and Twitter, and the solution: Federation.
The Glaring Problem: Facebook and Twitter
Facebook, being an advertising company rivaled only by Google, wants total control in order to track users in order to personalize ads in order to increase clicks. Of course, this is creepy and means being sold like property. Who wants to see *any *ads anyway?
Both companies have been caught in nefarious practices involving elections. Facebook is letting fake ads run, but not from action groups. (Or that’s what I’ve heard. It’s a known fact by now that they’re letting fake political ads get through.)
Both companies, mainly Facebook, have total control over everything that the public sees. They run everything from the Karen groups on the ol’ Book to the average teenager on Instagram. Twitter runs pretty much everyone they see as agreeable.
The Glaring Problem: YouTube
YouTube is a total monopoly on the video business. If you want to watch a video, it has to be on YouTube. Unless it’s InfoWars, in which case it has to be on Vimeo or Dailymotion, the other two contenders. Neither are preferrable as they’re also proprietary.
YouTube has been falling apart recently, too, with mass de-verifications and advertising problems, such as double ads, on the rise. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to switch to literally anything else as many people’s lives are built around YouTube, either making money or couch potatoing.
The Clear Solution: Federation
When the first OStatus implementation came out, nobody thought that they could possibly rival the likes of Big Tech. With Big Tech falling apart by the day, OStatus’s successor, ActivityPub, is taking hold. I’d love to see more people joining the Fediverse, which is named as a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe”, but I’m sure you guessed that. It’s an affectionate name of a group of servers that can interact with each other, somewhat like email. In fact, the addresses even look like email, so you know you can mention someone at a different website than you:
The post box of my personal profile. You can see I’m mentioning the Mastodon developer, whose account is not on my website. I can read his posts since I follow him.
There are different types of servers, or instances. These serve various purposes. For example, Mastodon and Pleroma are equivalent to Twitter. There are other types too: if you’re familiar with Instagram, you’ll be at home with Pixelfed; if you like Reddit’s structure then Lemmy might be best for you; if you are used to the Facebook interface and style you should try Diaspora* or Friendica.
Another great thing is that (on most instances) there are no ads. That’s huge, because on any website with ads, you will be stalked. Now, of course, there will still be people posting about things and thus “advertising” them but you won’t see Google anywhere or Facebook anything.
Of note, however, is that there are no “verifications.” This is a result of the way federating works; relying on a central authority for verifications defeats the point. However, users can use a special link marked
rel="me" if they own a website or compatible webpage that they are already known for, and Mastodon will give the link a verified check-mark of its own. For most users, this isn’t necessary, as you will likely be giving out the new address yourself somewhere where you are already known.
You’ve said enough, now give it to me!
Here are some links to get you started.
If you want to sign up for Mastodon (see note below): find one at joinmastodon.org
- Pixelfed: https://pixelfed.org/servers
- Friendica: https://dir.friendica.social/servers (make sure you find one marked English, if you don’t want a French server by accident)
- Bonus: evil.social and hell.social, both run by Satans
If you want my word for it, take Mastodon. That one has the most features, the most support, and such. Then feel free to follow me for random things and updates: @[email protected] (Try copy-pasting the linked address into search if the one shown doesn’t work.)