The current problems faced by social media giants can be solved by decentralisation. Decentralised social media can offer us open-source code (a way to see the algorithms in use), democratic decision-making and censorship, and decentralised ownership, meaning it cannot be ruled by one person or company.
Alternatives to Facebook and Twitter have existed for a while but the blockchain community building them do not have the resources, power and influence that big tech companies currently hold. Building a social network is only half the challenge, attracting and keeping users active is another thing. While these decentralised social media platforms are still only just gaining traction and popularity, there is no reason why they couldn’t overtake our centralised social media favourites at present.
What is decentralised social media?
Decentralised social media is the alternative to our current popular centralised networks like Facebook and Twitter.
- It is open-source and transparent. This means anyone can access and read the code behind the network and its algorithms.
- It is social media network without a central authority. It is distributed across many severs (usually via blockchain technology) which means no person, location or company has complete control over it.
- Its content is moderated by its users or moderators who have been elected by the users.
- It is designed to serves the interest of the people over the big tech companies.
6 decentralised social media platforms to have on your radar
While Facebook earns money from your time, Minds pays you for your time. The site “claims to protect you from data collection, breaches, surveillance, algorithm manipulation and demonetization,” reports Engadget. It has a similar feel to Facebook in terms of layout and features. It is different in a way that it is open-source, user data is not monetised and users are rewarded for their contributions to the network and their engagement in crypto and fiat money.
Find out more on minds.com
This decentralised social media platform runs similar to Facebook and Instagram in that you have posts, likes, private messages and profiles. There is no central authority or company that censors or interacts with the content or communication between its users. It also has an offline aspect. When you post something, it gets uploaded to the internet once your phone has a connection. “Even if you remain always offline, you could still share your data by uploading via Bluetooth it to nearby phones,” states Manyverse on its website.
Find out more on manyver.se
Mastodon is a federated social media platform set up to rival Twitter. The interface is similar and rather than tweets, you write a “toot”. The character limit is 500 in comparison to Twitter’s 140. It’s more complicated than Twitter. That’s where the decentralised element comes in. Rather than one flagship site, you have instances, individual communities that you join. While instances can talk to one another, you’ll have to sign up each time to have full access to each community. The Verge likens it to “the old Twitter — the days of purely chronological timelines, no ads, and an inescapable flood of harassment”.
Find out more on joinmastdon.org
Diaspora is an anti-Facebook platform. Launched in 2010, four years after Facebook, it is a decentralised social media platform run on independent servers across the world. You can keep your identity private if you choose to and you own your data. You can upload photos, follow other users, share your post with select groups (family, friends, work colleagues). Due to its lack of centralised moderation, it had little power against ISIS using the network in 2014, reported BBC News.
Find out more on diasporafoundation.org
Aether is a decentralised social media alternative to Reddit. It describes itself as “open source, self-governing communities with auditable moderation and mod elections”. It is a desktop application that you download. Users can self-moderate: you decide which content you want to see, set filters and decide who you allow to self-moderate what you see. It collects very little information about its users meaning you can keep your identity protected.
Find out more on getaether.net
Signal is the big contender to rival WhatsApp. It has all of the same features as WhatsApp: group chats, voice and video calls, picture and video messaging, voice notes, disappearing messages and the ability to archive, pin and delete chats. I recently wrote a post on the current problems we face using WhatsApp and why you should switch from WhatsApp to Signal.
Find out more on signal.org
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“Aether: A Decentralized Reddit with Self-Moderation and Privacy” The News Stack.