Being socially uncancellable

Lately I’ve become obsessed with the idea of becoming uncancellable.

Many of us use twitter, but we all live under the fear of censorship. I think this affects us more than we realize and (to quote our favorite prime minister) “it has to stop.” Besides that, many of us are essentially all just in one big circle talking to each other; why let twitter control this conversation? Of all the existing tyrannical platforms, Twitter seems to me a good place to start fixing this, especially as yet another round of purges begins.

The problem is making the transition. There is no way to get everyone to “jump” (say to Gab) in a coordinated fashion. I think any new platform (including whatever New Founding is cooking up, unless they have a solution that I’m not aware of) is going to face this challenge So we need seemless integration with Twitter. I propose something like the following:

  1. We’re going to need to get some dev accounts created to power our backend. Could be existing RW twitter users or new burner accounts.

  2. Create a public facing web application, which will:
    (a) Allow people to create accounts, with their twitter handle as username.
    (b) Autofollow (on Twitter, with one of the above dev accounts) anyone who is followed on Twitter by someone with an account created in (a)
    (c) Continually pull down (via API) all tweets from all accounts being followed.

  3. Allow users to log in to this app and view their own Twitter feeds, served to them using the data acquired in (2)

    • will have to be better than the original feed for this whole thing to work.
    • it WILL be better if we implement it half decently because it will have all their feed content but no ads and no stupid “fact check” stuff showing up all the time.
  4. Get a whole bunch of RW twitter users to start viewing their feeds our way, rather than going straight to twitter.

  5. Make it so that whenever a tweet is published via our application, it is published to twitter but also published another way, say via ActivityPub.

  6. Display these ActivityPub “tweets” directly inline with Twitter tweets in people’s feeds (while filtering for the duplicates created - if something comes in via ActivityPub then no need to display the twitter version, although we’ll need to do a little thinking about how to link the ActivityPub version back to twitter for the sake of retweeting, commenting, etc).

  7. Be uncancellable! Imagine that some user, let’s call him “Defiant” has been doing this for a while and has told a bunch of his followers about it, and now say 1/3 of them have started viewing their own feeds using our app. For that 1/3, Twitter’s cancelling Defiant does literally nothing! He just keeps tweeting the same way he was before, and they keep reading it the same way they were before, seemlessly in their existing twitter feed, the only difference is that his stuff is no longer published by twitter, and is coming to them via ActivityPub.

Am I crazy? I’ve already done much of step 2 above, took me like 2 hours. Is there something else I’m missing?

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@MaxO this is a continuation of the conversation we were having on the Bluesky thread.

@NateFischer @chris @phil do you guys have thoughts on this?

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This sort of thing seems like the right strategy. I could see a stand-alone product being difficult to get sufficient adoption for—the improvements you mention may make it better, but I’m not sure threshold is enough to drive mass adoption—but in combo w/ something else desirable could do it.

Would seem to make sense for Truth Social (which is already building on Mastodon) to do something like this to build traction.

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ActivityPub compatibility is the right answer. We don’t exactly need a team of devs to necessarily build all these things, we just need to start using them. My whole church is on Signal in large part because I specifically asked a handful of people if they had it, told them how to do it, and then once we have 5-6 people there it made sense to standardize it.

There are all kinds of ways we can push these things without needing a nationwide movement. For example, everyone with a company standardizing on Nextcloud for their cloud platform. People getting set up at work with something will be familiar with it and begin using it and recommending it as they move on.

When it comes to the social media side, the key is to leverage legacy social media to migrate to alt socials. For example, get key influencers to post 50% of their content on Twitter but 100% of their content on the alt platform. Gradually everyone will have one or two key influencers that justify making an account on the alt platform, then once they are there and checking on it, they go ahead and see who else to follow.

Now this being said, right now it is too risk to promote an Alt platform because too many pop up and fail too quickly. The only platform that has a track record of being around long enough, not being canceled, and not caving to censorship is Gab and they are crippled from not having a traditional mobile app for the app stores due to being cancelled by Apple and Google.

Basically we have to have something that is censorship resistant on the ecosystem level. For now, there is more promise in platforms like Substack or Ghost since they can bypass apps altogether and go straight to email. However, Substack is not yet “proven” in my mind to be censorship resistant, while Ghost is open source and so you always have the option of self-hosting.

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We should be careful with Mastadon. The leaders of that project are woke degenerates who actively tried to cancel Gab which is itself a Mastadon fork. Ideally, the FOSS nature of Mastadon can help avoid some of these problems but its still. It may be wise for there to be a true Mastadon fork if we are going to depend on it for anything important.

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I like it! Makes 100% sense to me. The trick will be to have the front end that overlays (probably wrong wording) Twitter so that folks go there instead of to Twitter. Might be good to do the same thing to FB.

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I think their hands are tied - it’s self-hosted software with an open protocol - but tend to agree in the end: Why build upon something whose devs hate you, if you don’t need to?

As you mention in another thread, adopting a protocol like ActivityPub – which is used by Mastodon, GNU Social, and many others – is the way to go. And by implementing it within our own application, we can tailor the user experience, integrate with the rest of the Fediverse, and introduce our own functionality tailored to our mission and users.

@liamdcollins mentions in his OP the classic problem of achieving a critical mass of users to drive adoption, and proposes an interesting solution. It’s within the same sphere of what we’re cooking up but with that specific implementation, my concerns are less about Twitter banning an account, and more that they’ll probably ban server IPs using their API in a way that they may deem abusive, exceeding API rate limits, etc.

Twitter has their API fairly locked down, owing to what’s at stake for them otherwise, but there are clever possibilities here. I do think there are interesting new integrations possible, and ways of siphoning traffic.

To the latter point, we might look at Twitter as a waiting room. A place where you find your people, or go it alone, and then spring into forming relationships, strategy, and action here at New Founding. So, less about trying to beat Twitter at Twitter’s game, but rewriting the rules for what meaningful social looks like. Using Twitter for what we can get, and throwing out the rest at last.

Twitter and Facebook used to have a more open platform. I remember when you could open Tweetdeck and post to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ at the same time with one click. They locked this down because they can’t monetize the platform if they functionally turn your account into an open protocol.

I think the long game is that Twitter fails, Meta stays around but Facebook itself stagnates and has user atrophy and social media Balkanizes around tighter groups. Basically the core people you interact with on social media are present on a smattering of different platforms, meanwhile there are flare ups of new social platforms that become the next big thing and then die down in relevance. All of the “alt” social sites will be boomer-cons, which has its place but its a niche.

The big reason Facebook and Twitter dominate is that they make user discovery easy and they do it extremely well. More and more people are realizing they don’t want to be social media friends with the people they know in real life anyway, so its all about finding interesting or like-minded people and interacting.

I agree from my own experience on helping my own church. We have to ‘propose a transition period, trial and see’ to convince the 'alternative is possible without compromising the ‘functionality’. We picked up slack to replace ‘public social network/chat’ and then move to ‘rocket-chat’. It took half year to pull > 15 people on ‘chat platform’.

  1. For end-point access, we try to advocate open-source solutions/OS. Windows PC to dual boot ubuntu; office to libre-office; finance to gnu-cash. audio/video tools to audacity/VLC/others.
  2. mobile app? Why do you need separate devs on app store? if you can build html5 web app with progressive function to access hardware sensors on any phone or pc. Due to good hardware on modern phone/pc, the web app should be built to put the computation/memory more on client side, instead of server side. Then a small home server is sufficient without (too much) concurrency issue.
    I do believe a new anti-censorship protocol, instead of focusing on a specific platform is more important. Transparency is the key for anti-censorship, as censorship itself could be necessary and beneficial, what is not beneficial is Arbitrary black-box censorship. The win of open-source tech, especially in the server domain (linux), is mainly due to the transparency. Trust but verify. Verify on algorithm and code and know your trust.
    Glad to know so many protocols are already there from you guys. Like to know what could be the next step for implementation.

My solution to these problems is: I’ve never used “social” media (how can it be social if you aren’t in the same room?) and I don’t own a cell phone. It isn’t so much the content as the devices themselves that’s the problem. They encourage addiction, distraction, obliviousness, superficiality, passivity, and narcissism. I could go on. When I say these things to people, they get very very angry. That’s how addicts respond. Like they are helpless.

I see a backlash against computers themselves already.

Young people assume these things have always existed and that we can’t get along without them. Not true. We did. For a long time.