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Ask Slashdot: Is There a Good Alternative to Facebook? (washingtonpost.com) 490

Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein argues that fixing Facebook may be impossible because "Facebook's entire ecosystem is predicated on encouraging the manipulation of its users by third parties who posses the skills and financial resources to leverage Facebook's model. These are not aberrations at Facebook -- they are exactly how Facebook was designed to operate." Meanwhile one fund manager is already predicting that sooner or later every social media platform "is going to become MySpace," adding that "Nobody young uses Facebook," and that the backlash over Cambridge Analytica "quickens the demise."

But Slashdot reader silvergeek asks, "is there a safe, secure, and ethical alternative?" to which tepples suggests "the so-called IndieWeb stack using the h-entry microformat." He also suggests Diaspora, with an anonymous Diaspora user adding that "My family uses a server I put up to trade photos and posts... Ultimately more people need to start hosting family servers to help us get off the cloud craze... NethServer is a pretty decent CentOS based option."

Meanwhile Slashdot user Locke2005 shared a Washington Post profile of Mastodon, "a Twitter-like social network that has had a massive spike in sign-ups this week." Mastodon's code is open-source, meaning anybody can inspect its design. It's distributed, meaning that it doesn't run in some data center controlled by corporate executives but instead is run by its own users who set up independent servers. And its development costs are paid for by online donations, rather than through the marketing of users' personal information... Rooted in the idea that it doesn't benefit consumers to depend on centralized commercial platforms sucking up users' personal information, these entrepreneurs believe they can restore a bit of the magic from the Internet's earlier days -- back when everything was open and interoperable, not siloed and commercialized.
The article also interviews the founders of Blockstack, a blockchain-based marketplace for apps where all user data remains local and encrypted. "There's no company in the middle that's hosting all the data," they tell the Post. "We're going back to the world where it's like the old-school Microsoft Word -- where your interactions are yours, they're local and nobody's tracking them." On Medium, Mastodon founder Eugene Rochko also acknowledges Scuttlebutt and Hubzilla, ending his post with a message to all social media users: "To make an impact, we must act."

Lauren Weinstein believes Google has already created an alternative to Facebook's "sick ecosystem": Google Plus. "There are no ads on Google+. Nobody can buy their way into your feed or pay Google for priority. Google doesn't micromanage what you see. Google doesn't sell your personal information to any third parties..." And most importantly, "There's much less of an emphasis on hanging around with those high school nitwits whom you despised anyway, and much more a focus on meeting new persons from around the world for intelligent discussions... G+ posts more typically are about 'us' -- and tend to be far more interesting as a result." (Even Linus Torvalds is already reviewing gadgets there.)

Wired has also compiled their own list of alternatives to every Facebook service. But what are Slashdot's readers doing for their social media fix? Leave your own thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Is there a good alternative to Facebook?
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Ask Slashdot: Is There a Good Alternative to Facebook?

Comments Filter:
  • by gibbsjoh ( 186795 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:43PM (#56321371)

    Slashdot? Ahahhahahahahaaahah I crack me up.

  • "Every day we give the world little hostages to use against us."

    Stop posting every little bit of minutiae of your life online & then be outraged when it is used against you later.

    • What I want to know is: why the fuck is Slashdot posting Google-shill articles submitted by the well known fascist Lauren "Down With Freedom" Weinstein?

  • LIFE! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Templer421 ( 4988421 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:47PM (#56321379)

    Go OUTSIDE and give it a try. Did you know the sky is still blue?

    • Re:LIFE! (Score:5, Funny)

      by 14erCleaner ( 745600 ) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:59PM (#56321419) Homepage Journal

      Go OUTSIDE and give it a try. Did you know the sky is still blue?

      And be sure to take pictures and post them. Sunrise/sunset pictures get the most likes, after dogs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If outside is so great, why have we spent the last 9000 years perfecting inside?

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        Because the majority of you are snowflakes that can't handle the harsh realities of nature.

        Meanwhile, I sit here, posting happily from my phone, while on a mountain and holding a freshly-mined California ruby in my hands.

    • My distant family, college friends and other people I like keeping up with aren't available by going outside. I can contact them individually, but I love being able to keep up with them, see what they're doing/sharing, and letting them do the same with me. I don't want to talk to these people every day, but I don't want our relationship to turn into just Christmas letters and an occasional phone call.

      Your comment isn't helpful at all in a thread like this, asking for alternatives.

      • My distant family, college friends and other people I like keeping up with aren't available by going outside. I can contact them individually, but I love being able to keep up with them, see what they're doing/sharing, and letting them do the same with me.

        Subscribe to the blogs written by "distant family, college friends and other people" using RSS, Atom, or the IndieWeb stack's WebSub [indieweb.org]. Encourage them to subscribe to yours.

        • Yes, I did this from about 2000 until 2010 or so. But in that time, a lot of people didn't write regularly, because they felt like short updates weren't worth a post. And a lot more just weren't interested in maintaining a website at all.

          Facebook and Twitter are popular, in part, because it's easy to share short updates (or longer ones, if you want). That combined with the critical mass of users makes them useful in ways blogs/RSS feeds just can't.

    • Re:LIFE! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:53AM (#56322107)

      Go OUTSIDE and give it a try.

      Go where? Oooh there's an open air free concert in my city this afternoon. It was advertised on Facebook.

      Wait you didn't think Facebook was used just to stare at posts from people you don't like did you?

  • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:52PM (#56321395)

    Facebook's main staying power is that two apps handle everything. Groups, messaging, calendaring, blogs, file downloads, movies, pictures, and many other items.

    None of this was invented by them. Messaging could be done by XMPP, IRC, or many other ways. Groups could be handled by a web forum. Calendaring, similar. File downloads could be done by the usual means. Movies, pictures, etc, could be done by websites, even easy to use packages like WordPress. However, what FB does is bring all that together, where it is the standard as the "watering hole" everyone goes to.

    There are other social networks, be it Diaspora or MeWe. However, people don't want to have a ton of social media apps; they just want one, and someone isn't on it, that person is persona non grata.

    This isn't to say Facebook isn't original. Their zstd compression algorithm is a very top notch achievement, and almost is as good as lzma, with a fraction of the CPU usage. However, were it not for the fact that even businesses depend on it for communication, it can be superseded, just like Myspace was.

    • Apps? Seriously? Facebook runs a website. I would never allow binaries produced by Facebook to run on any of my equipment. I don't even allow Facebook logins on any of my main browsers.

      Things like Facebook apps are immediately wiped on new Android devices as a first step in prepping them for use.

    • by shanen ( 462549 )

      Kind of unclear, but I'd still give you the informative mod if I ever saw a mod point to give. Main item was the MeWe, which I'll research next.

      However for now I'll expand on the Diaspora reference. You mentioned it, as did the OP. The basic idea was good, but it was indirectly killed by the bad economic model. So many people liked the idea when it appeared on Kickstarter that the project was way TOO successful. The over-funding caused them to try to rescale the project, and it basically died. I also think

    • FB’s strength is that it’s a one stop shop for identity. For applications revolving around communicating with other people, that is a big plus. Your FB friends with whom you share updates about your sleepy kittens can just as easily be reached if you need to discuss something with them in a group, if you want to exchange files or videos with them, if you’re inviting them to a party, or if you want to contact one of them individually. In all cases their identities are the same and they are
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:54AM (#56322111)

      Facebook's main staying power is that two apps

      Stop, you've fallen into the trap. Facebook's staying power has nothing to do with Facebook and everything to do with people. It's staying power is the result of the people you want to communicate with using it, be that friends, family, businesses, event organisers, etc.

      No one gives a crap about the apps or its capabilities (kind of self evident that people used them for so long despite them being absolute turds from the very beginning).

    • Facebook's main staying power is that two apps handle everything. Groups, messaging, calendaring, blogs, file downloads, movies, pictures, and many other items.

      I disagree. Facebook's main staying power is that it's where the people are. Most people that I know who use Facebook are using it for three purposes. They're posting and reading posts, like twitter except the audience is your friends and not a bunch of strangers. They're using messenger as an alternative for SMS, since they don't necessarily have the cell phone numbers for all of their Facebook friends. And then some people are using Facebook to promote their work, art, band, or whatever.

      For all of these things, having the right people in your network is the whole value of it. Having yet another microblogging platform is easy, but it's hard to get your friends and family to use it. Having an messenger app is easy, but getting random acquaintances to sign onto it isn't going to be easy. If you're trying to promote something, then you have to go where your audience is, or else you have to promote an alternate platform first before you can promote yourself.

      I know Facebook can be used for all kinds of other things, but I'm not aware of anyone I know really using it for anything else. For example, you mention calendaring. I don't really know anyone who tries to use Facebook to keep track of their calendar. To send and receive invites, sure, but that can be done through any messaging platform. But I don't know anyone who says, "I need to check what I'm doing next week. I'll look at Facebook to find out."

      Anyway, back to my larger point, the main feature of Facebook isn't any of the features. The main feature is the audience. I don't think the solution is to get everyone to move to a particular new platform, but to devise a way where people on different platforms can connect to their whole audience. The real problem that nobody is trying to fix is, why can't I use my Twitter account to subscribe to Facebook feeds? Why can't I use my Hangouts account to message Facebook users? Why isn't there interoperability between platforms?

      We don't require that you have a Gmail account to send emails to Gmail users. We don't require that your site be hosted on DreamHost to link to sites listed on DreamHost. We developed a set of standards that lets each service communicate with different hosts managed by different people, using a set of open protocols. That's how the Internet works. The whole Internet was built on the idea that people were going to do that, to use standard protocols allowing different hosts to communicate with each other.

      The problem is, we don't demand that anymore. We don't even ask for it or expect it. Facebook makes its microblogging platform and its messaging platform, and lock it down to require a Facebook account, and Google makes their competing service, and they can't talk to each other, and nobody even thinks that's strange. The answer isn't a new proprietary platform, but a new set of protocols that can be used by all the platforms.

  • Regulate Facebook (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:54PM (#56321399)

    I think we're beyond critical mass. Facebook is where everyone goes online to find everyone else, at least in north America and western Europe. People wanna go where their friends, family, and acquaintances are. How are we gonna convince everyone to migrate to the same service at the same time? Advertise it on Facebook?

    I say it would be more practical to regulate Facebook. We could start by making their data gathering, usage, and redistribution practices transparent in ways that are meaningful to users (i.e. so as to achieve true informed consent). Then we could look at ways to hold Facebook and its clients accountable for misuses, abuses, and incompetence.

    Regulate Facebook in the same way that we've decided it's a good idea to regulate government: Transparency and democratic oversight. It sounds boring and not very techie but you know, it's not really a technological problem, it's a political one.

    • I think we're beyond critical mass. Facebook is where everyone goes online to find everyone else, at least in north America and western Europe. People wanna go where their friends, family, and acquaintances are.

      Nah, There are limits to what people will put up with. It appears that you have decided there is no limit to the shit Facebook is going to serve you - this indicates how much shit you will get from them.

      As for me, I only had an account there because I had to for two projects I am heading. The one ends this summer, and as for the other, I'm delegating that to another person. I guess My family and friends can call me or meet me if they want to see me because as soon as I can - I'm out of there. And won't

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      You're nuts. Facebook isn't ubiquitous. I know plenty of smart, successful people that don't use it. It's just the Myspace of the moment. It'll be over, soon, and then people will jump onto the next thing. People are dumb. Let them throw away their privacy (and dignity) if they want to. The rest of us can continue to function just fine without that garbage.
      • Facebook isn't ubiquitous. I know plenty of smart, successful people that don't use it.

        Tries to look modest...

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        People have been saying that about it for a while now.... how "soon" is "soon" supposed to be?

        I think we're long past the point where we can take any prediction that facebook will end soon seriously, not because it won't but because any appearance of being right after having been apparently wrong for as long as we've been hearing this can be attributed to well within the parameters for random chance. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, after all.

      • by shilly ( 142940 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @03:07AM (#56321823)

        So what if lots of smart, successful people don't use FB. Two *billion* people do. When nearly a third of the Earth's population are using a service, then *of course* there's a public interest in making sure that service is reasonably safe through regulation. We can't just wait for it to die on the vine, assuming it ever will...too much harm will happen in the meantime.

        • Re:Regulate Facebook (Score:4, Interesting)

          by TooManyNames ( 711346 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @12:11PM (#56323145)

          You seem to be approaching regulation with the understanding that it will force Facebook to correct its privacy issues. It won't.

          Regulating Facebook and other social media sites will provide feel-good band-aids that address immediate -- and by the time regulations are enforceable, outdated -- concerns, but those regulations certainly will not curtail Facebook's collection and sale of user-supplied data, as long as that practice remains profitable. Facebook is powerful enough, now, to ensure that any proposed regulations will be flexible enough, or toothless enough, to allow for a continuation, in some form, of its business model.

          Actually, it's in Facebook's interests to support the passage of social media regulations, as such regulations will undoubtedly be easy for Facebook to overcome, but damn near impossible for startups, that might threaten Facebook's dominance, to overcome. That's why it isn't the least bit surprising to me that Zuckerberg's been saying, "I actually think the question is more 'What is the right regulation?' rather than 'Yes or no, should it be regulated?'"

          This isn't to say that regulations are inherently bad; they certainly aren't a cure-all, though. Before clamoring for regulation, it'd be worth pondering exactly what that regulation should look like, how it would be implemented, who it would effect, and how it could be twisted to benefit entrenched powers that be. If you can't take that step, it'd probably be worth considering if you can just make do with existing (or new) alternatives to the thing you're trying to regulate.

    • by Warma ( 1220342 )

      No, it doesn't have critical mass, as the generation below us isn't even using it. It's embarrassing to be on FB if your mum and dad use it, and all.

  • That was funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @12:02AM (#56321427)

    Google doesn't sell your personal information to any third parties...

    Does anyone actually believe that?

    • Well it's certainly popular for the nutters to claim it near constantly. Yet if it were actually true, someone would of leaked that nugget by now.

      • The people you disparage as "nutters" keep getting proven right time and time again.

        My general impression is this: if you can think of some data-related practice that's creepy, villainous, censorious, and/or collaborationist - then Google, FB, and the rest of Surveillance Valley are almost certainly doing it.

    • Here's how it's been explained to me: Google and Facebook generally do not make a habit of selling members' personally identifying information (PII) to third parties. Instead, they safeguard members' PII and offer services, such as Google's AdWords and DoubleClick, that use members' PII and click stream as an input.

      As for the Cambridge Analytica/SCL incident [vox.com]: Facebook sold nothing. Cambridge Analytica collected Facebook members' PII through Facebook's API and then disclosed (i.e. sold) the PII in violation of Facebook's terms of service.

    • Re:That was funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:57AM (#56322119)

      Does anyone actually believe that?

      Yes, I do. Your information to Google is the equivalent of the CocaCola recipe. It is the money maker, a closely guarded secret that gives Google power. Google sells access to *you* and they do so via many various means, provide data via APIs, advertising platforms, etc. Google sell your eyeballs but keep your personal information their closely guarded secret from which they gain quite a huge competitive advantage.

  • humhub.org looks promising. AGPLv3 and Commercial licensing.
  • I haven't found one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @12:08AM (#56321447) Homepage

    Facebook has me trapped because of the network effect. I do standup comedy as a hobby and all the shows and calls for spots are announced on Facebook. I also do some sketch and improv, and yep... all the auditions and shows are announced on Facebook.

    My music teacher has a Facebook group for announcements for all her students. I need to be on Facebook to get those.

    And until a critical mass of people finds something else, Facebook will continue to have its stranglehold in situations like this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by az-saguaro ( 1231754 )

      You have a point, that people who are acting as speaker-sender thereby obligate the listener-receiver to tune in to whatever medium the message is being sent on. But that does not mean that FB or anyone else has a stranglehold on anything. It only appears that way because people capitulate to using that service. It was only a few years ago that FB did not exist and people had no problem communicating. Don't drink the Kool Aid.

      Here's a simple suggestion: call or write or email to your teacher and the comedy

      • Here's a simple suggestion: call or write or email to your teacher and the comedy clubs or agents. Explain that they need to use an alternative means of communication, by a list coupled to email or efax or DropBox or similar site or an old fashioned BBS or whatever.

        And then when they say "uh huh" and see that they don't need to do anything because everyone (except you) is on FB, you can then stop doing comedy since you won't have any gigs.

  • Facebook?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by beep54 ( 1844432 )
    ANYTHING, other than Facebook, is an excellent alternative to Facebook.
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @01:19AM (#56321629)

    I've always been able to sign up for facebook (since it existed anyway) - but I still haven't seen a reason to.

    It was old to me when it was new - chat interfaces, friendly reminders that always tend to linger on advertisers and lingering invitations to third party fees/services. I couldn't see any difference between it and basically every thing it was imitating, And always, always demanding you provide it a method of hooking into you with what I saw as shallow database references.

    It's not a matter of privacy or security paranoia - I just had no desire to play that game since I saw those same games played in the BBS era, and the early national networks. They're all the same kind of scummy, and for my tastes, I found I was better catered to as the 'odd man out' in groups than as another contestant in the facebook game.

    From every video I've seen and friend-on-a-phone using time on the service I've ever seen, I've never seen a hint of anything more to it. Any examples of content on Facebook that anyone has ever seen that are actually more than promotional contest giveaways, and chat/email/scheduling analogues?

    Life is about focus - Facebook always seemed the wrong thing to focus on, after seeing every other social network. I was always looking for a 'need' that justified it, just never found any - and I enjoyed every second I did not use with it.

    Oddly enough, I did see the movie - and I didn't really seen to miss any reference.

    Ryan Fenton

    • by shilly ( 142940 )

      I just don't understand your post: I've never used any content on FB that *was* "promotional contest giveaways, and chat/email/scheduling analogues". The only thing I use it for, is keeping in touch with people. Hearing what they're up to. It's an easy way to stay in touch with friends and family scattered round the world.

  • Try forums on topics on interest.
    Web sites and web pages.
    Create your own forum, blog and web page.
    Anything to get back to a diversity of sites that no one social media company can censor.
    Enjoy the freedom of speech over the internet. Not just what one brand allows on their network.
  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @02:25AM (#56321753)

    will turn into Facebook eventually. Only non-profit, decentralized social networks will prioritize privacy and security. However these will be likely gain market share on par with linux desktop.

  • Fixing Facebook is very easy. All it takes is some regulation. Problem solved

    Fixing Facebook is too hard as long as the GOP is in power. US politics is a complete mess, and the republican swamp dwellers in Washington would not lift a pinky finger to make a move against their biggest lobbyists, and more importantly - the main vehicle of social network idiocracy and a key mechanism they kan use in meddling with elections.

    Facebook fixing itself, and Suckerberg's "apologies" suggesting they are going to do anyt

  • Google Plus? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @03:07AM (#56321821)

    You mean Google hasn't killed Google Plus yet? And it's free?

    If something's free then you're the product.

  • Do you want to talk to your friends? Use email or simply call them.

    And if you are old-fashioned as I am, go meet them!

  • Try meeting real people, talking with them while sipping a coffee, go with them doing real life activities. You will be amazed to see how it works, and you do not ever need a smartphone!
  • Facebook is not inherently bad, anymore than a gun is inherently bad. It is the way in which people choose to implement it that is at fault. Any 'thing' can be used as a force for good or a tool to oppress. Look at what we did with the split atom. It is a great source of energy or a massive engine of destruction. TV is the same way, it COULD be perhaps the greatest vehicle of knowledge and enlightenment, and yet it is a source for corporate enrichment. Mankind doesn't have such a good history of not abusing

  • by RhettLivingston ( 544140 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @03:38AM (#56321883) Journal

    Literally. By that I don't mean Facebook is indispensable. I mean we should replace it with nothing. If we can't manage that, perhaps about 20 million independent things with an average of 100 users each that can't be mined as one entity would suffice.

    We've had Facebook for less than a thousandth of human history. Obviously we can live without it. It's a very brief, failed experiment. Sure, a couple of billion people have had it. More than that have had the common cold but there's no reason to keep that either.

  • A 'blog' and a 'social media platform' before those terms were invented. and the only oneworth sticking with. (although I miss the preMurdoch Myspace.

    Yeah - im old
  • I avoid Reddit until recently, i saw it as being mostly troll driven with a few interesting posts, but i find it pretty much the opposite.

    They is pretty good news coverage and minimal trolling that i have seen.

    Its pretty usless for posting anything except links to news stories as you need a plugin to be able to see pictures inline, so it has a nostaligc feel to it. News feed from 10 years ago...

  • No. Here's why: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:11AM (#56322049)

    I've held this opinion ever since social networks became a thing, and Facebook is no different:

    The problem a social network solves is basically a protocol problem. Facebook by and large is nothing other than the world latest replacement for Usenet, Mailinglists and IRC. If email weren't so shitty, Facebook wouldn't stand a chance.

    Diaspora is some awkward attempt at solving the problem, but it thought Facebook was a website, so it started copying a website. But FB isn't a website, it's a social network. It just uses the web as it's universal platform.

    What we need to do is design a portocol/service, then build low level tools to handle it and *then* the UIs. Diaspora is a hack by the web camp. It's the WordPress of solutions. A badly designed stopgap, that sort of kinda works but could be done better.

    We should get to it and replace email along the way while we're at it. That thing is from the steam age of computing and it shows at all corners.

    My 2 eurocents.

    • We should get to it and replace email along the way while we're at it. That thing is from the steam age of computing and it shows at all corners.

      If it's based on JSON, it's not going to be better.

    • You should look up hubzilla, since they've done what you suggest but you appear oblivious to it. The goal is to create an open protocol so that the person providing your data management service can be changed but without you having to abandon your data and connections. If they show signs of misusing your data, you move to someone else. We need an environment in which we can work together (collaboratively work on files, pages, documents, calendars, etc) without it being centered around an account on a par
  • Facebook has got where it is because of 2 main reasons: (a) it has achieved a 'critical mass' ie: if you want to do this sort of thing with friends the most likely place where you will find them is facebook; (b) facebook does not facilitate connecting to people on different social networks - which means people must choose which social network to use and because of (a) the best choice is facebook, this is the 'network effect' - the most interconnected wins.

    The way of breaking this is a facebook RFC that desc

  • Having large and powerful entities like facebook is clearly a bad thing, they have far too much influence and control... A distributed system is obviously a much better idea where users or groups of users host and control their own content...

    However, what about the security implications of random people suddenly running their own servers? that's gonna end up as a mess...

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:42AM (#56322095) Homepage Journal
    Ok, well there's not, but I'd be happy to start a web site that whores your personal data that you share with it for free in a slightly less unlikable way than Facebook does. That's what you want, right? Because really the only reason Facebook exists is to convince you to share your personal data with it for free so it can whore that data to anyone with a large enough briefcase full of cash. So if you'd just share some personal data about what exactly you find unlikable about Facebook whoring out your personal data, we can get this party started!
  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @06:10AM (#56322139)

    You jumped into a classic IT trap of trying to replace a platform without ever defining your requirements. To that the only answer is to replace Facebook with Emacs, since VI isn't up to the task.

    More seriously though, what do *you* get out of Facebook?
    Do you use it to just post pictures? There's platforms that do that. e.g. Flickr
    Do you use it to share short rants? There's platforms that do that. e.g. Twitter
    Do you use it for personalised messaging? There's platforms that do that.
    Do you use it for finding events near you ....

    Wait let's address this for a moment. One of the most powerful features of Facebook is the network effect, it's widespread use. There are many platforms but the question is are they of use to you? Can you contact your local airline on Google+? Does your local underground music festival announce details of its events on Twitter? Are those things you want to buy available for sale on Craigs list? Is your family using WhatsApp? Are the pictures of your daughter that you're trying to monitor to ensure she doesn't do something silly on Instagram?

    Those are the only kinds of questions you need to ask when trying to figure out how to replace Facebook. No one uses Facebook because it's a good service and they thing the app is awesome. ... Except maybe Zuckerberg.

  • by tero ( 39203 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @06:41AM (#56322213)

    For those of us living in the privileged western societies, we can of course replace Facebook with something else. But that something else is just going to end up in the same place, because the content provided by these services is financed by marketing money and it's crucial to keep that going - because of quarterly economic reports and the stock market - it's a vicious circle we've created and now have to keep feeding.

    In other parts of the world, Facebook is synonymous with Internet access. They don't use computers - Internet is mobile - and Facebook offers free access to that mobile network - if you sign up with them and use their apps, of course.

    It's the worst kind of digital colonialism you can think of.
    Nothing has changed in the world - the Internet didn't make information free. We in the west are still slaves of the system - and we're still exploiting the developing world.

    The only sensible move is not to play. The only way to fix it is to change the system. But we're not going to do that. We love our toys.

  • by bromoseltzer ( 23292 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @08:24AM (#56322349) Homepage Journal

    Some of us amateur radio people will tell you that ham radio was the first social network. That may be a stretch, but there are some points to think about.

    It's good to have a medium that's free to use by the message, but still has a price. You have to qualify by taking an exam, or by putting up some capital funds, or by paying a monthly fee.

    The problem of FB, G+, Reddit, /., etc. are that they are free. So the purveyors have to find revenue from corporate sources - selling your info, your preferences, and your friends.

    If a service has value to you, and you want to have control of your data, why aren't you willing or even eager to pay $10 a month?

  • If step one of your plan to replace Facebook is everyone running family servers, your plan is doomed from the start. Most families don't have anyone capable of doing that, and hardly any families have anyone capable of doing it well -- keeping the machine running, updated, and properly secured.

    There's a remote chance that it could work if there were a competitive network of service providers who ran the servers. For example, if ISPs did it, the way they all used to run email servers. It might also be somewhat possible if cloud providers operated and maintained the servers. In both cases, though, I think it would just lead the cloud providers to exploit economies of scale by putting up one big infrastructure for all of their users, and to compete by offering features that others don't have... then network effects would kick in and one of them would become dominant and you'd just have a new Facebook.

    I think the bottom line is that widely-used services that are subject to intense network effects are natural monopolies. And natural monopolies require regulation.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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