Decentralized Social Networks vs. The Trolls
Developers and users of the somewhat decentralized and very poorly connected collection of social networks called the "Fediverse" gathered at this years "ActivityPub Conference" last week. Derek Caelin presented an interesting video called Decentralized Social Networks vs. The Trolls at that conference. It is highly educational and worth a watch if you think free speech, traditional moral values, milk, Korean pop music, random hand gestures used for hundreds of years and being against child pornography being openly broadcast on Netflix is "hate speech" and "right wing extremism" that should be censored. It is also interesting if you just want to learn about the mind-set of the people with that kind of world-view.
Video by ActivityPub Conference (apconf). License: LicenceAttribution - Share Alike
In the summer of 2019, the alt-right social network Gab migrated to the decentralized "Fediverse" of social networks after being booted from mainstream financial services and hosting solutions. Almost immediately, Gab was met by a dedicated movement to isolate it. The movement was largely successful; within a year, the Gab CTO announced they would leave the Fediverse. This talk will cover how moderators, activists, and developers in the Fediverse used human moderators, strong moderation tools, representative codes of conduct, and no small amount of organization to promote healthy online spaces.
We’ll review how some of the challenges faced by centralized platforms, which struggle with their own size and scale, have been addressed in networks of smaller, community run, more moderated servers. In the debate over how to make a healthier internet, the open platforms and open protocols in the model of the Fediverse may have some of the best resources to isolate bad actors, including Gab.
Derek Caelin is an Innovation and Data Specialist at Counterpart International (CPI) with experience in open source technology and social media. He has helped activists deploy technology for social good at CPI, PeaceTech Lab, and the United States Institute of Peace. In writing this article, Derek spoke with 80 people, primarily on Mastodon, including 12 interviews of Fediverse administrators and moderators as well as hate speech monitors and experts in dangerous speech. He also conducted a survey of Fediverse users with 670 respondents.