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In recent times, we have seen governments restrict access to the internet. We've seen the huge, corporate owned social networking and microblogging sites censor content their investors do not like, and even remove accounts belonging to protesting entities, such as Twitter's recent (albeit temporary) removal of the account for OccupyWallStreet, and Facebook's censorship of protest related photos.
Mind you, I won't debate their right to censor us. After all, we use their sites free of charge. That is, of course, because we aren't their customers, we're their product. Selling us to marketers and retailers is their business, not protecting our rights to free speech. Their investors are their clients, and, indeed, their owners. They are well within their rights to censor us, I suppose, if what we have to say is offensive to said investors. (Mind you, Goldman Sachs has huge sums of money invested in the FBook, and JP Morgan & Chase have dumped similar funds into the tweet site).
And then, on top of potential and real censorship (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), there are all kinds of issues with these proprietary networks and search engines tracking us all over the internet, and then selling our information to marketers, and worse, handing it over to policing agencies, sometimes without so much as a warrant. Google® and others have been known to bend to government requests to censor content, and hand over user data. Here's a chilling example. And there are even worse violations of our privacy.
Furthermore, they're manipulating our access to information, as indicated in the above video. A free society requires free access to information, not manipulated by corporate interests. They're controlling what media we see, what news we see, what we know...That's pretty scary.
But I will no longer grant them ownership of my content. I will no longer trust them as a means for important communications, and I will no longer allow them to own my social life, nor violate my privacy. Above all, I will seek alternative means of networking, alternative sources of information, and more private means of communications.
In the hands of these monied interests, the internet is broken.
We've also seen the internet become the means by which the voice of the people has been heard, and by which the people have organized against despotic regimes and tyrannical oppression.
We need the internet to communicate, not just locally, but nation-wide, and world-wide, to express our views, to make our voices heard, and to share information, to let each other know what we are doing, and how our oppressors react, EVERYWHERE...
We need alternatives!
and the internet needs more cute kittehs
To that end:
The decentralized, federated, FREE (as in freedom, as well as price), social networks on which I currently play are:
1. Exempt from subjection to the will of others; not under restraint, control, or compulsion; able to follow one's own impulses, desires, or inclinations; determining one's own course of action; not dependent; at liberty. [1913 Webster] That which has the power, or not the power, to operate, is that alone which is or is not free. --Locke. [1913 Webster] 2. Not under an arbitrary or despotic government; subject only to fixed laws regularly and fairly administered, and defended by them from encroachments upon natural or acquired rights; enjoying political liberty. [1913 Webster] 3. Liberated, by arriving at a certain age, from the control of parents, guardian, or master. [1913 Webster] 4. Not confined or imprisoned; released from arrest; liberated; at liberty to go. [1913 Webster]Decentralized - distributed over a diverse network, with no centralized concentration. In our case, this means these sites are not owned or run by one central authority, company, or entity, but rather are owned and run by various users and numerous servers.
Decentralize \De*cen"tral*ize\, v. t. to make less central; to prevent from centralizing; to cause to withdraw from the center or place of concentration; to divide and distribute (what has been united or concentrated); -- esp. said of authority, or the administration of public affairs. [1913 Webster]
fed·er·ate v. fed·er·at·ed, fed·er·at·ing, fed·er·ates v.tr. To cause to join into a league, federal union, or similar association. v.intr. To become united into a federal union. adj. United in a federation.
These may seem to be contradictory terms, but they are not. Think of peer-to-peer social networking, owned by the users, on servers spread the world over, but all connected and communicating with each other. That's what we're talking about here.
Diaspora*is software that can be installed on a server by anyone that has the knowledge to do so. They in turn can allow people to register for an account on what is called their “pod”. There are many of these pods already established across the internet (list here podupti.me) with many users. You register for a free account on a pod and you can seamlessly connect with other users on other pods, the same as if you were making someone a friend on other social networking sites. No matter which pod you are on, you are all using Diaspora. If you have the technical skills, you can even set up your own pod for your family and or friends. They can in turn connect to family and friends on your pod or even other pods with ease.
Diaspora* has many of the features of other popular social networks, including groupings of friends (like G+ circles, but called “aspects”. Oh, and Diaspora* had this feature over a year before G+ was even launched!), sharing of photos, links, videos, etc. Diaspora will allow you cross-post materials to twitter®, facebok®, and tumblr®, and allow you to connect to friends on Friendica, as well. The aspects give you great control over who can view your content, so you have complete control over your privacy. Also, YOU own all content that you post. Diaspora* has no advertisements, and nobody on Diaspora* is tracking you, either on the site or across the internet. Diaspora* will not censor your communications with others. Also, on Diaspora* you can use any name or pseudonym you like.
There are numerous Diaspora sites, but they are all connected, so contacts on any Diaspora site can be connected to folks on another Diaspora site.
Here is my Diaspora profile:
There is a rather lengthy list of public pods that you can join available at podupti.me.
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StatusNET is for microblogging (similar to twitter®, and can forward updates to twitter) built on free/open source software. StatusNET is uncensored, free, and you can roll your own. StatusNet has features that twitter lacks, including posting of longer “blog” entries, sharing of events, uploading photos and music files, creation of polls and questions, and cross-connections with folks on any other StatusNet site. Also, one can make their StatusNet updates forward to Twitter, thus sharing with twitter contacts and StatusNet contacts, simultaneously. One more great feature of StatusNet are groups. By posting updates with a certain tag, the messages are grouped, and one can choose to be a member of that group and follow conversations on that topic. So, statusnet is kind of like twitter on steriods. Much more powerful, many more features. It is also more configurable. My own statusnet installation, for instance, is set to accept updates with up to 200 characters, as opposed to twitter's 140 (one can change this up to 500 characters). Like Diaspora*, statusnet does not track you, spam you with advertisements, censor you, or lay claim to your content.
We have our own statusnet installation here at status.farcebork.com, which is open to the public. Join in! My own statusnet profile is firstname.lastname@example.org
From there, I am following friends not only on status.farcebork.com, but also from all around the world including people on twitter, identi.ca, parlementum.net, brainbird.net, and some other smaller, private StatusNet installations, who are also following me from those sites, and I have my updates forwarded to twitter, from whence they forward to Tumblr, and Facebook. If any of those proprietary networks cut me off or censored me, my friends all around the world on brainbird.net, identi.ca and parlementum.net would still see my updates, as would, of course, anyone on our installation, or any other StatusNet installation who chose to follow me. I also follow some rss feeds and friendica contacts.
One can even export updates from any statusnet site, group, or individual to an rss feed, or, one can follow an rss feed.
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And, best of all, in my opinion, is Friendica, the most fully-featured of these three.
Friendica, also formerly known as Friendika, is decentralized and federated, but also allows you to connect to contacts on twitter, identi.ca, diaspora, facebook, and other sites, from friendica. I recommend Friendica most highly of all (although a combination of statusnet for microblogging and friendica is a good idea). Friendica has photo galleries, an event calendar, friend groups, and all the other functions you already use on other social networks. Like Diaspora* and StatusNet, Friendica does not track you, spam you with advertisements, censor you, or lay claim to your content. Like the others, the software is free and open source, so you can install it on your own server, if you like (or join an existing site).
Friendica also allows you to connect to others on Friendica, plus contacts on status.net, twitter, facebook, diaspora, identi.ca, etc., plus forward your posts to posterous, tumblr, livejournal, wordpress, plus follow rss feeds, and more. It has chat (both IRC and jabber), photo galleries, events calendar, friends group organization (like circles on G+), group pages (communities), games, and many other excellent features. It has upvoting (like), downvoting (not like), bookmarking of posts, and will even allow you to set posts to be deleted automatically after a specified time period, if you like. In every way, Friendica is the most awesome social networking platform, in my opinion, hands down.
Learn more about friendica at friendica.com.
I consider the creator, Mike Macgrivin, a friend. He was part of the team that developed Netscape Browser for AOL! I have developed software to interact with the Friendica's API, which was fun, plus I contributed to the livejournal and posterous plugins, wrote the dreamwidth and insanejournal plugins, the IRC chat plugini, and others.
I now have my own Friendica installation on my own site, where my current friendica profile is http://free-haven.org/profile/tony. I am the administrator of that particular friendica site.
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In Diaspora, StatusNet, and Friendica, unlike FB, G+, and other sites, you are not a product to be bought and sold; you own your own data, and completely control your own privacy. The sites are not corporate owned, and, in fact, if you have access to a server and the know-how, you can install and run a site yourself (kind of like you can with wordpress, joomla, etc.), and still connect to all the other friendica and/or diaspora sites. In this way, a truly FREE, open, neutral internet is forming, uncensored and unfettered by corporate interests.
Here is an excellent breakdown of the differences and similarities in social networks.
You will see that Friendica is richer in features than any other.
Search Freely, Too
We've mentioned how corporate internet giants are filtering our search results, and corporate media manipulate the information they provide. As such, for a truly informed public, we need information sources free from corporate influence, independent news media, and, especially, search options that will not filter and manipulate the results we find.
As such, This article wouldn't be complete without offering free, privacy sensitive search options, as well. I primarily use two search engines, today, being duckduckgo.com and ixquick.com (the search box on this page is for ixquick.com), both of whom have privacy policies promising never to track you, hold your information, or sell you out to marketers or government agencies. If you are really stuck on google results, there is also Scroogle, which will search google® through a proxy and give you unfiltered results, without tracking you, and StartPage.com, brought to you by ixquick, which also gives google results, unfiltered and without the tracking.
Two more search option are Seeks and Yacy, peer-to-peer web index and search engines.
As indicated above, free, independent news sources are also of utmost importance.
See, primarily: IndyMedia.org.
Last updated: Wed May 9 19:17:26 EDT 2012
- Yo Momma and 3,576,923 other people like this.
- BuddyCloud - another decentralized, federated social networking platform.
- Save the Internet - advocacy for net neutrality
- IndyMedia.org - Indymedia is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.
- Quit Facebook Day
- What is Diaspora?
- Friendica - the Friendica project.
- Comparison of Social Networks
- wk3.org - an excellent diaspora pod
- email@example.com - me on diaspora
- firstname.lastname@example.org - me on friendica
- email@example.com - my statusnet profile
- identi.ca - most active statusnet site
- parlementum.net - excellent statusnet site run by a friend of mine
- DuckDuckGo - privacy sensitive search engine with great features
- ixquick.com - another privacy sensitive search engine
- startpage.com - google® search results through ixquick's proxy, unfiltered, and without the tracking.
- Scroogle - scraping google® searches, without the tracking and privacy invasion
- the Tor project - Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.
- The FREENET Project - Freenet is free software which lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish "freesites" (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums, without fear of censorship. Freenet is decentralised to make it less vulnerable to attack, and if used in "darknet" mode, where users only connect to their friends, is very difficult to detect.
- I2P - anonymity for the masses. I2P uses bundeled encryption over a multi-proxy like Tor.
- HideMyAss.com - free proxy to surf anonymously online and protect your online privacy.
- wikileaks.org - a not-for-profit media organization seeking to bring transparency to government and enable an informed public.
- Yacy - peer-to-peer web index search.
- Seeks - another peer-to-peer web index search engine.
- Europe v Facebook.org - ongoing saga of a battle for privacy in Europe.
- American Censorship - fighting to maintain a free and open internet.
- RMS discusses Facebook privacy violations and abuses
The Free Web by tony baldwin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at blog.tonybaldwin.info.
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