We are still actively working on the spam issue.

GNU Social

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Mastodon, the thing that killed GNU Social, Summarized

GNU Social (previously known as StatusNet) was a distributed service created by The GNU Project to provide a fully-free network for social networking. The fact that it is distributed means that there is not a single service that you are locked to. A person who uses FreezePeach, for instance, can follow people on The Rainbow Dash Network due to them both using the GNU Social network.

The network software itself was much like Twitter, but the actual interface differed between implementations. Some websites, such as the aforementioned Quitter, are designed to look like Twitter, while the aforementioned Rainbow Dash Network was designed to look more like a message board, for example.

This was the only Social Network that RMS endorses, and the only one he actually used (through a posting bot). GNU Social had no universal Code of Conduct, but a number of implementations had adopted one. These CoCs only applied to the implementations that have adopted them, and in no way represented the network as a whole. Pretty much it was expected not to spam, and not be a dick or else face the ban hammer.

GNU Social was the sister service to GNU FM. It has largely been replaced by Mastadon and Plemora, services based on the original framework. A large number of former GNU Social nodes are now Plemora or Mastadon servers.

Controversy

Javascript

A large number of GNU Social sites required Javascript to work properly. This means that many web browsers (such as Lynx) can not use the site. However, the Javascript has been put under a Free Software License under the guidelines of The GNU Project's Javascript Guide.

ToS

After the Exodus from Twitter (see next section), a number of implementations created SJW-tier Terms of Services (which are actually Code of Conduct statements). While these didn't apply to GNU Social as a whole, they were the rules of these nodes. A lot of people have migrated from these nodes, but some have chosen to stay because while it is in writing, moderation has yet to make objectionable decisions based on them.

Exodus from Twitter

In early 2016, with the #RIPTwitter tag trending due to dramatic changes, a massive flood of twitter users went to GNU Social (mostly on Quitter). This boosted the post count from 20 posts per hour to 20 posts per minute. A large amount of spam and Normie accounts had been created, however.

The mass-exodus from Twitter made a large amount of users not even understand what the hell GNU Social is. This caused the moderation of Quitter.se to post a disclaimer explaining it. It linked this article as a brief explanation of the network.

The massive influx also caused massive errors in the GNU Social network due to bandwidth it had never seen before. Since the majority of Twitter users switched to quitter.se, they had been most affected the most by these errors. The site itself could not be accessed by many. Later in the day, Quitter temporarily stopped registration of new accounts to combat not only this, but the spam as well.

The next day, registration was re-enabled. A universal Terms and Conditions for all Quitter sites (not GNU Social as a whole) was released. It actually being a Code of Conduct, it says:

"Quitter is not a service and you are not a customer here. We are a small part of a bigger social change, creating a large decentralized community. This means that we don't have to be neutral toward the content on our GNU social instance. If you don't like the direction this instance is going, you are free to move to another instance or start your own. You will still be able to follow and be followed (and blocked) by users on this instance.

In contrast to the top-down authority of commercial social media, this creates a kind of flat power structure. We are enabled to protect eachother from harassment and opression, but without censorship.

On this instance, users who harass others will be removed. We also take a strong stance against e.g. racism, sexism, ableism, homo- and transphobia. Such expressions make the site unsafe for other users, and in practice limit their freedom of speech.

The Public Timeline is considered an especially sensitive place. It is what new users see, and all registered users will see the posts published there. Moderators can exclude users from appearing in the public timeline it at any moment, without warning, permanently or temporarily. Consider it a privilege to be published in the public timeline, not a right. If you are excluded from the public timeline, you can still use all other features on the site just like any other user.

Advertising and commercial entities are not allowed on this instance. We are completely non-profit and all our expenses are payed for by donations from individuals. We can help you start your own GNU social instance if your intention is commercial.

All content on this site is licensed with Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International.

Each user is responsible for the content they submit. If you have any questions about something posted on this instance, contact the user in question first. As a last resort you can email the admins."

Days later, it seems that the massive influx has slowed. A Ycombinator article was made showing the superiority of GNU Social over Twitter and other services, causing the official homepage for the software to address it. Quitter added this statement to their frontpage, adding to the previous statement:

"Read our Terms of Use before registering. Quitter.se is about taking control over the means of communication, NOT about "freedom of speech". This is a moderated instance! We take a strong stance against e.g. racism, sexism, ableism, homo- and transphobia. Other instances may have other policies."

By nightfall, they changed their front-page message again. Erasing all it said previously, quitter now says:

"Please read our Terms of Use. Registrations are now temporarily closed. Shitposters and conservatives might like shitposter.club, gnutan.xyz or freezepeach.xyz."

The next day, quitter.se added this notice to their front page:

Welcome to Quitter.se – a part of the federated1 microblog commons!

This is the place for you who are tired of private companies controlling your conversations and contacts and selling them for profit. On Quitter.se you are not locked up in a single commercial service; here you can follow and talk to microbloggers from the whole open GNU social network.2 Together we seize the means of communication, and create real democracy online.

Quitter.se is not a service, because we're not selling commodities.3 Instead we call it an online commons.4 The site is run by the small Swedish non-profit organisation En Kompis Kompis5 which is solely funded by donations. All work is voluntary. Joining Quitter.se is completely free, but those who want to help out financially can donate to the organisation.6

1 "Federated" is the opposite of centralised. E-mail is federated, you can email from a Gmail account to a Hotmail account. Commercial social media is not federated. You can not talk to Facebook users on Twitter. Confining users within a single service is the business model of social media!

2 http://gnu.io/social/ "GNU Social" is the software that Quitter.se uses. The network is called The Fediverse. It consists of all sites communicating using the Ostatus protocol. GNU Social connected sites are called instances. There are many other, e.g. quitter.is, quitter.no, quitter.es and quitter.nu. It doesn't matter where you register your account, you can still communicate with everyone on the network.

3 Karl Marx. Capital. Vol. I-III

4 http://p2pfoundation.net/Commons

5 http://enkompiskompis.se/en/

6 http://enkompiskompis.se/en/donations/

This was accompanied by an image with the words "Ne Tweeting Jamais"

This was said to have shown a great divide between ideology of implementations. While previously unknown, the split had been exposed greatly. Some people are a part of the "PC culture" and are using it as a Safe Space, while others wanted to use it as a part of Free Speech and a simple Free/Libre service. The majority of the later had moved to other implementations based on this, such as shitposter.club, freezepeach.xyz, and a variety of others.

On the 26th of Febuary 2016, Quitter.se (arguably the first node to start this) added a new feature called "Sandboxing". This feature blocked members of quitter.se from viewing accounts from other nodes that are known to violate the quitter.se ToS. If the user follows these accounts, they can see them regardless. The administration had banned many official accounts of famous people, such as journalist Robert McCain and Todd Kincaonon, who later moved to other nodes.

The owner of the Quitter.se service, McSox, had been "Requiping" various persons showing his political stance. Of these include an Anti-Gamer Gate person, and various Bernie Sanders supporters. As of November, 2016, the Quitter nodes were generally avoided and their use was discouraged from the comunity as a whole.

On 12 March 2016, FreezePeach, a node that had been growing in popularity, was blocked from Iam18, a pornographic node. A single user that was formerly an admin for the IAm18 site is blamed for the block. The person unblocked the site later in the day. source1 source2. Later in the day, they added this to the startpage of FreezePeach: "We stand firmly rooted against fascists, anti-speech apologists and individuals who try to apply the chilling effect by way of protocol or economics."

In November 2016, the most friendly nodes to the 8chan shitposting (and Naziesque) culture were Shitposter.Club, /a/'s official GNU Social node, FreezePeach, and a few others.

With alternatives such as Diaspora, and Gab, the initial surge slowed.

What comes next?

"Virgin vs Chad Meme"
The Virgin Mastadon Dev vs the Chad Plemora Dev

Plemora seems to be the next big thing. Avoid Mastadon't at all costs.

External links

Official Website

A technical comparison of a number of nodes

A comparison of nodes by rules and ToS

The English Wikipedia article on GNU Social

A Basic Introduction to GNU social and Mastodon Social by Robek World

GNUsocial FAQ from Logic Only ZOne Live Stream by Robek World

What is the Federation? by Robek World

GNU/Jihad, a Jihad declared on Mastadon!