With the ‘alt-right’ movement fleeing platforms they find offensive, a few networks have seen slight bursts of success. Gab.ai and Minds.com have become insulated safe spaces for the sensitive members of this group. That being said, there’s still a lot of harassment being seen on the Twitter front and that makes it unusable for many people who simply wish to interact inside of an all inclusive bubble with no one challenging their beliefs.
The solution may be a little known Twitter alternative which has been around for several years.
It’s not technically a website, but more of a service. GNUsocial is a network of servers that talk to each other in what’s known as a federation. The idea is that anyone can start a server and set their own rules, but if a user is brave enough, they can peer into the abyss known as the ‘Public Timeline’ and ‘natively’ interact with people on other networks. If a server (also known as instance) admin or user was unhappy with these interactions, he or she could ban users from appearing on his or her timeline.This doesn’t ban the user from the GNUsocial protocol, but only from their particular instance. This solves many of the problems that Twitter has and acts as a form of self-censorship. This has been good enough for a few of these networks, such as Sealion.Club, Quitter.se and Shitposter.club. But only one man had the vision and ego to truly break what was working. His name is Eugen.
Like all great web innovators, Eugen saw an opportunity with a niche audience and quickly worked to bring his idea to life. After spending a few months on Quitter.se, Eugen became fed up with the administrator Hannes2Peer and his anarcho-liberalism approach to administration. Hannes was a historic GNUsocial user and helped develop many of the plugins to make the service more friendly to new comers, such as his aptly named UI, Qvitter (The ‘v’ is because it’s swedish or something). Eugen worked quickly to secure as little knowledge as quickly as he could from veteran administrators in order to concoct his final solution to the GNUsocial problem.
What if there were a way to profit off of all of this AGPL licensed software?
And thus, the idea for Mastodon.Social and the underlying software, Mastodon, was born. First Eugen needed a user base. Eugen went for an innocent audience. The persecuted users of Tumblr who also used Twitter. If he could create a bogeyman, he could drive these users to his TweetDeck clone. The UX was a given, ‘great artists steal’ is what they always say. Being a cis-white male, Eugen knew he had to throw white people under the bus and quickly set to work burning all the bridges he had built in an effort to ensure his humble user base would see how persecuted the he also was. It worked and word of the platform and software quickly spread around the Tweetsphere and Tumblr-verse. Once there were enough users, he could put into action his plan to secure the most amount of Patreon pledges imaginable, with promises of keeping the server live and allowing anyone to fork Mastodon. In order to make sure no one could actually install Mastodon without his approval, Eugen wrote the world’s most undecipherable installation instructions and directed people to reach out on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) if they ran into any problems.
Not understanding how the federation works, his new users quickly called for software tools to break the federation. Whenever something went wrong, it was most likely the GNUsocial and OStatus engine. After a few short months, Mastodon’s software tools had successfully blocked every other instance in some form or fashion – becoming the alt left version of Gab.
Eugen enjoyed a quick rise in patreon funds, and managed to secure enough funding to cover his living expenses. Proof that hard work pays off. Unfortunately, he ran into some minor medical bills, but his gracious user base came through with additional funding. After breaking the federation, the flow of dollars began to slow and Eugen needed to solve for this error. He swiftly worked to build a Wikipedia page and worked his users to shill to everyone how important Mastodon is. It’s literally important, the rest of the servers are shit, honestly.
We’re a humble technology publication and all memeing aside, we do think that the Mastodon software has changed the face of GNUsocial forever. No longer are federation users forced to interact with opposing ideas. It’s better this way, it’s more insular. GNUsocial, like communism, was a good idea in principle, but in practice turned out to be a harbor for neo-nazis and bigots. Fixing the neo-nazi problem with the Mastodon software made a huge impact on the Quality of Life on the GNUsocial service. Eugen has a point. Blocking users doesn’t break the software he’s building and providing for free because of the damn AGPL license. Some users such as @pewdiepie on shitposter.club are uncertain as to whether or not Eugen is an alt-right plant trying to profit off of the poor souls of tumblr. Others speculate Eugen is 100% genuine and attribute his shift in being a kind and inquisitive white male with a tenacity for putting up with bullshit, to life hardships. No one should have to put up with being called a cuck 34/7. One anonymous blogger mentioned that Eugen should learn to relax and realize this is all a joke and not take himself so seriously because life’s too short and he’s just another admin on a shitty Twitter and ‘some of us actually like the guy’.
“i think gargon needs to have more self-agency and set a clear direction on his administration. either block or allow all the other gnusocial instances; being neither here nor there just makes him look spineless.” – GNUSOCIAL CELEBRITY AND CHINESE SPY
Regardless, it became easier to shut out the discord when there was more of an echo chamber. Mastodon.social is a lesson in social engineering, software development and the post-‘fake news’ world. If your ego grows large enough, there’s not much in this world you can’t build. Now stop bitching about Mastodon on the rest of the GNUsocial verse and just leave them alone because odds are they can’t see it anyways.
Postactiv alternative, when?