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Tag: Fediverse

Google Bans Gab app

Just as the Gab app hit the #1 trending top spot on the Google Play Store, Google banned it. Will this potentially make life hard for the entire Fediverse?

The far-right social network Gab has now completed its transition to Mastodon. The main motivation was to make a foothold in the mobile app stores. Gab’s previous attempts at distributing a mobile client failed because Apple and Google both removed the it from their respective app stores. The companies cited violation of their policies against hate speech as reason for the removal.

By moving to Mastodon and the ActivityPub protocol, Gab no longer needs to distribute their own mobile client. Instead, their members can, at least in theory, download a generic Mastodon client, and log on to Gab’s Mastodon instance. This prompted some client developers to change the application code so that their client doesn’t work with Gab’s Mastodon instance.

But Mastodon clients are mostly FLOSS. Gab simply copied the source code, removed the blocking code, and compiled their own version of the Mastodon client. This happened to Tusky, and a Gab-branded version of Tusky was available in the Google Play Store.

At least for a short while.

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Free Speech & FLOSS vs the Alt-Right

What’s the link between free speech, dental hygiene, and the alt-right? I have no idea. But there’s an clear link between free speech, Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS), and the rising alt-right movement.

As I reported back in May, the alt-right echo chamber Gab is adapting ActivityPub. One of the main drivers behind this decisions is to make a beachhead inside mobile app stores. The next version of Gab is a fork of the Mastodon code, and it’s scheduled for launch on July 4. Gab’s impending inroad has caused a slight scare on the left side of the fediverse. As It turns out, leftists, antifas, and the LGBT community really don’t like the alt-right.

But there is no need to panic. Because of its open and distributed nature, the fediverse already has a few Gab-friendly Mastodon instances. Still, you don’t see the fediverse being overrun by the alt-right. Even if ActivityPub enables propagation of Mastodon message through server-to-server federation, administrators can block other instances from federating through their own. Enough blocking, and a particular instance is effectively left as an isolated little island, all alone in the fediverse.

Another interesting discussion that has surfaced recently is how Mastodon client app developers should handle Gab. Their beloved apps will soon be openly used to spread alt-right propaganda. Gab’s imminent adaption of Mastodon has forced many app developers to make a conscious choice in the matter.

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Technology Won’t Save Us

As Gab embraces ActivityPub, it turns out technology won’t save us from ourselves after all.

I’m a big fan of the ideas behind IndieWeb, the Fediverse, ActivityPub, and the general concept of distributed social networks. You own your content, your personal data isn’t sold to the highest bidder, and the censorship is limited1. I don’t have any factual backing for the following statement, but my impression is that these ideas were first embraced – and implemented – by people leaning towards the bottom left quadrant of the political spectrum. Digital hippies, if you will.

But because of the ongoing purge of many prominent, conspiracy-fueled, hate-mongering bigots from mainstream social networks, people found in the upper right quadrant of the political spectrum no longer feel particularly welcome on these sites. It’s only natural, then, that they start to gravitate towards social networks and sites run by like-minded people.

And with that, the alt-right is coming full steam to the Fediverse.

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Welcome to the Fediverse

Wouldn’t it be great if you could participate on the internet without having your private data and habits sold for profit? You already can. Join the fediverse.

Imagine logging on to a social media site to discuss your anime obsession. But instead of logging on to a site owned, controlled, and monetized on by a Fortune 500 company, you log on to an instance being operated by a fellow anime fanatic in her spare time. The instance you log on to only has about 50 users, but it’s a friendly, tightly knit group of people who all share the same interest as you. No harassment, no hate-speech, no bigotry. Any bad apples not following the Code of Conduct decided by the instance administrator – “don’t be an ass” – is simply banned from participating in the discussion.

The instance you log on to is in many ways an isolated, private island. But it’s also part of a larger network consisting of hundreds of other nodes with hundreds of thousands of users. Most of the instances are owned and operated by private individuals, and together all the instances form a federation.

Welcome to the fediverse.

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We Need to Toot About Mastodon

Is Mastodon the silver bullet, or yet another social media dud?

First of all, we’ll have to clarify one thing. This post isn’t about the American heavy metal band Mastodon. It’s about the social network Mastodon. You’d think that the creator of Mastodon (the social network) would to at least a little research before picking a name, but apparently not.

With that out of the way, let’s get on with it.

The internet is great. It makes it incredibly easy to for us to connect, share, and educate ourselves. It’s also a place where trolls breed and feed, and hate is amplified. The anonymous nature of the series of tubes that is the internet often brings out the worst in people. There are few things that will make you lose faith in humanity faster than reading comments on a random, high-traffic site on the internet.

Historically, any lack of anonymity has restrained the trolls to a certain degree. And life was good. But with the rise of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, we’ve seen that some people really don’t need anonymity to go absolutely nuts. They’ll write and share whatever they think about race, sexual orientation, global warming, and other heated topics. This has turned many social media sites into very hostile environments, and people are looking for alternatives.

So wouldn’t it be great if there was a Twitter, but without all the hate and hostility? Mastodon tries to be just that, but can it succeed?

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