Fighting info control that is unprecedented in America: Decentralizing Social Media

The following is from an article written by Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger, who parted with the project over its descent into propaganda and agenda editing.

How to Fix Social Media in Three Easy Steps

By Larry Sanger

The social media bullies—YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and more—constantly violate our digital rights. That is the problem. The solution is to wean us off these social media giants, somehow. You own your own data and decide what you see (or not) for yourself. You subscribe to people, period, not to people’s accounts on this-or-that service. That is the dream of “decentralizing social media.”

This sounds nice, but it turns out to be too vague and complicated to be helpful. So I have been thinking about this. I have been asking, “What do I want?” Here is my answer, and if it works for me, it should work for everyone.

(1) I want a plugin to let me post on social media from this WordPress blog. I want to be able to go to a sparkly new, easy-to-use page that allows me to post from here—from my completely self-owned web space—to my Twitter and Facebook feeds and also (this is actually the important part) to a new reusable feed, like this blog feed. I do not want to have to go to Twitter to get my message out. Why should I have to? I should be able to post from here. Nobody can censor me or throttle me here. And you can have this same plugin yourself. Maybe you are a nasty troll, and you get kicked off everywhere, but I happen to like you, and I want the unadulterated you. I can come look at your feed, or better yet, I can get a feed reader that does not censor you, unless I decide I want you removed from my feed (see the next point). Come on, how hard should that be?

(2) I want to be able to view other people’s posts from here, too. In other words, I want this plugin to go about and fetch posts wherever they are (well, maybe it will be more complicated than that; see (3)), bring them back here, and show them all in a feed that I can rearrange however I like. I can make posts public or private. I can arrange posts by social media service, or combine them all together. I can combine Twitter, Facebook, Parler, Mastodon, and pretty much everything. Why should I not be able to? And here is the really great part. I can subscribe to other people’s feeds of the sort described under (1) above. It should be an open network, not a bunch of separate silos. I can arrange posts chronologically or according to fancy algorithms, including ones I build myself. Of course, I should also be able to reply to people from here. Again, this is an obviously useful thing. Why does it not already exist? Come on, developers, make it already. I want to start using it!

(3) Tools facilitating this need to be built. There are two main tools that will make this system feasible. The first tool is some social media content standard, like ActivityPub, but for individual posters like you and me, not whole social media servers like or, let alone giant silos Twitter. The second tool is an aggregator. Developers will need a massive, constantly growing database that slurps up all the social media content, coupled with an amazing API that and acts as a back end that serves the posts. This way my little blog does not have to go and separately fetch all the feeds individually.

At scale, that would be super-slow; it would not work. If I follow 1,000 people my little server is not going to individually ping 1,000 feeds. It needs someone to constantly be doing that on behalf of all the blogs and other apps built on top of this decentralized social media network. And then of course if one aggregator censors certain people, fine; I should be able to use a different, more open aggregator.

And that, boys and girls, is how to decentralize social media!

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9 thoughts on “Fighting info control that is unprecedented in America: Decentralizing Social Media”

  1. Full Measure Team,

    Re: Rt and truth-telling reporting

    “Big Tech’s moves to muscle President Donald Trump off social media have been heralded by some as victory. But a corporate-run state with politicians serving as mere figureheads amounts to the very fascism they claim to oppose.

    “The smug, palpable air of ‘mission accomplished’ emanating from Facebook, Twitter and Google in the weeks after the media called November’s election for Democrat Joe Biden has been hard to ignore. Thanks to an iron grip on the political narrative and the heavy-handed suppression of any influential dissenting voices, these insanely wealthy companies and their partners in the media establishment have managed to successfully upend what was left of the US’ democratic process. 

    “In short, they have reason to celebrate, having pulled off the first successful national-level coup-by-media in US history. And better yet — for them at least — having helped the ‘right’ guy win, they won’t have to answer to any bogus charges of Russian collusion this time around. Indeed, no less than the Department of Homeland Security came forward to declare the vote the most secure in US history — a baffling claim at best, given the same officials have spent months insisting foreign infiltration supposedly had democracy hanging by a thread. . . “ :


  2. This is naive. People are getting kicked off of (e.g. Conservative Treehouse), and more fringe groups have lost their WordPress self hosting (e.g. Daily Stormer) and their ability to process payments (e.g. Red Ice). Even hosting a physical server in your home will not be safe, people are already demanding ISPs cancel internet service to people who say the bad thoughts. You will someday not be able to obtain a place to put information that can be consumed in the way this article describes, if the mob does not want you to do it.

  3. I think the second part already exists. It’s called RSS aggregation. Many services do that.
    My personal favorite is – it’s a social network on its own with no ads and no censorship (their business model is based on selling premium features while offering basic service for free), but in addition to that, you can syndicate any RSS feed just from anywhere into your reading feed. This would also make the new RSS feed discoverable by other users.
    That’s where I read your posts.

  4. For all here, MeWe has been my alternative to FB since November. The developer has a free or subscription based site. He outright started the social media site because Zuckerberg was selling people out back in 2012. He had something to do with the initial creation of FB and left. He believes that your content is yours, I tested to see if they would sensor mt posts by tossing in a few colorful words, and I am still there… it might not be a perfect solution, but if all freedom loving people delete their FB accounts in the next week, Zuckerberg will see his power is only lent to him, not given! I have completely deleted my FB account and glad I did with all he has done in the last few days!

  5. The story of social media is a Shakespearean tragedy. What started out as a wonderful way for people to share and communicate has sadly morphed into metastatic cancer. In the same way as we have no cure for cancer, we have no cure for the problems with social media. No matter what potential solution comes about, people will object or find a way around it.

  6. A solution will com, it is only when. Perhaps it will be Ms. Sharyl that will lead the way starting with the conversations in this post.

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