Facebook Under Siege -- Is this the moment when new social media alternatives can achieve mass-adoption?

The latest news about Facebook’s data being scraped and then illegally sold to Cambridge Analytica has boosted the #DeleteFacebook movement. Reports of Twitter’s death may be premature, but the vultures are circling. Reddit was just the subject of a pretty brutal piece in the New Yorker that also made a sweeping case for the ongoing dominance of the trolls and vitriol in all public social media spaces.

The Digital Life Collective exists in part to support the emergence and widespread adoption of alternatives to these for-profit advertising-driven platforms where WE are the product being sold (or stolen). Some alternatives already exist, like Mastodon (cited in the piece on Twitter above). Others-perhaps with the affordances we truly require for trust, accessibility, and decentralization-- have yet to emerge.

What do you think about the prospects for a mass exodus to new platforms? If the Collective were to support such a move, where would we encourage people to go? Should we eliminate our own Facebook page, which we use (barely, at least to date) as a “front door” for inviting people to become members and/or to engage here, on our calls, and on Mattermost (the internal conversation platform for members of the Collective)? And what new platforms are under development that align with our values, and how might we support them if they are not yet ready for public use?

Just noticed this thread on FB, in which a political activist I know asks:

Has anyone found a good alternative to Facebook besides Twitter? Both Instagram and whatsapp are owned by Facebook.

The replies are notably lacking in actionable suggestions, other than to stop using social media.

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Also noticed this tweet from open source developer Andre Staltz today:

It’s the beginning of the end of FB’s empire, but that’s not enough. If the centralized model for social networks doesn’t end, these problems will come back, or get even worse.

It’s time to decentralize:

  • Own your data (store it locally)
  • Efficiently share it with friends

an open source developer should surely know of The Indie Web … https://indieweb.org and within that lies a new community at micro.blog - nascent - but realy good and bright people and 'the ‘rules’ of the community and what is flagged is different to the usual platform social networks


right in line with the indie web’s mantra ‘POSSE’ -

Publish (on your)

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How is the Indie Web initiative going, @People.First? Is it something that technically less sophisticated folks can navigate? And is the “syndicate elsewhere/everywhere” strategy proving to be effective at countering the monopoly that the big platforms have achieved due to the network effect?

Excellent inquiry, Ben. We’ve had a few good discussions on the FB exodus (#offboarding) in John Kellden’s Conversation Community and my (meta) thinking on this is visualized in the chart below…


What’s the sense you have coming out of those conversations about how close we might be to a tipping point, @joachim?

As I say - nascent - and as for tech capabilities - well that’s all relative … I don’t think of myself as techy but many of my friends think I am … but micro.blog is easier to set up than say a self hosted WordPress site - and then you can get going with all kinds of tricks that are either easy or not … a lot in that community want to make it easier - but then not sure they know how.

The larger issue is funding - I gladly pay 5 bucks a month to Manton Reece and built in is auto syndication to twitter and Facebook and of course WordPress … it’s worth looking into - 2 week free trial if you give it a go - let me know and can help if you get stuck.

All that said … will most people pay 5 bucks a month for what Twitter and Facebook do for free… people have to be more aware of what it means to be a product that FB and Twitter monetize.

Kindest Regards

People First | Founder, John Philpin
Mill Valley CA 94941 USA • www.people-first.net
+1 808 344 2914 • john@people-first.net

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That is really hard to tell, Ben. Like a dam that shows some cracks, but nothing really happens, until it does. There’s also a proliferation of “lifeboats” out there (i.e. platforms that want to provide for everything, for another good metaphor, see this post). What John is doing is asking the right questions - can we end the centralized model for social networks? are we prepared to decentralize? what does that mean? will we be able to reclaim our social cognition? how will the social interaction look like? Signal processing?


And there’s the rub… unless you’re aware that your data is being monetized by FB (& how many users get that FB makes @$1K/user selling their data to advertisers?), mass adoption of a ‘paid’ alternative is, I think, unlikely.

So, for me, the challenge is for alternatives not to communicate the utility of what their tech offers but rather focus on getting the message about the potential value in ‘self-owned data’ out… a tough one no doubt!

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Not being much of a social media user in the first place, this bit of the forest is unfamiliar. But:
a) Isn’t mass take up essential? Whether distributed platform or single?
b) Does social.coop have any claim to lead as the most credible user-owned alternative?

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EXACTLY - the absolute central point of al of this.

is john part of diglife? I have known him for many years and has a lot to bring to the party.

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You’re the only John I see here, @People.First!

Spotted this in my FB feed this morning, from my friend Sam Rose (who I’d love to see here too!):

I am leaving Facebook for something called “web site”.

I will publish text on “web site”.

You will apparently be able to “surf” to “web site” and read the text and pictures that I publish there.

I am told that somehow you will even be able to “link” to “web site”, and that “web site” can “link” back to you. It’s like a friend request but also not. It all sounds so fascinating, I am really excited to try “web site”

Meet me at “web site”! I will see you all there!



mmm - i will ping hin and find out what he isn’t here!

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John Kellden is operating from the Conversation Community, as far as I know, and initiatives that are spawned off from there (“Waystation”). There’s plenty of overlap and we regularly talk about #offboarding and social cognition/presence.

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Oh, that John. Yes, I agree it would be nice to see him here–begs the question of what DigLife can offer that makes it worth the time. That FB post you linked to @joachim, about the boat and the bucket loader, is AWESOME, btw.


Hi Joachim! Everyone, just had a chat with Joachim, and an email exchange with John P. Will add a bit more as soon as I’ve oriented myself a bit more here.