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Proposing a GNU Social Network Manifesto?

Reading through the GNU Free Software philosophy once again, I wonder whether, right now in the current disputes surrounding Facebook, Twitter, Mastodon and the quest for a more “open” social network environment, we might need just something like the GNU philosophy for social networks, too? I mean, after all, having “open-source” social network implementations like Mastodon, Diaspora* or GNUSocial is pretty nice but it seems to somehow miss the point: The issues arising from using social networks don’t really seem to be caused by the implementations most widely used these days are “proprietary” but by these implementations being operated in a way providing a massive vendor lock-in. From that point of view, looking at the Four Freedoms of Free Software, I could imagine something like the Four (or Five, depending upon your point of view) Abilities required for a “Libre Social Network” more or less like this:

  1. The ability to communicate to any other user anywhere else without forcing her or him into using the same platform or even provider.
  2. The ability to have a very deep and detailed look into what data about yourself is stored on a particular network, who has access to it and who actually did access it.
  3. The ability to fully control access to your data in that network, including both completely export and completely delete all your stuff.
  4. The ability to transparently move your account from one provider to another in the same network by exporting and re-importing your data in some other system.
  5. The ability to run infrastructure acting as part of that network yourself for hosting your data as well as, optionally, data of other users if you (and they) want to.

I am not really sure this makes sense. But at the moment, I see there’s a lot of fuss about decentralized networks, about different implementations and protocols, but at the end it mostly seems to come down to a technical discourse that completely leaves out a more or less accurate idea of what should be achieved by this. Getting something akin to the GNU Manifesto could be a starting point for both developers and less technical people to have a shared vision and figure out where things actually should be heading before starting to write code and build actual infrastructure. Not sure – maybe I’m completely wrong about that though. Feel free to get me sorted here anyone. 😉

20. April 2018

Filed under:

freedoms , gnu , mastodon , socialnetworks