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.

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.

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?