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[liberationtech] Facebook: Building Global Community - What's your response to Mark Zuckerberg?

Robert W Gehl lists at
Sun Feb 19 12:11:12 PST 2017

Hello, all --

This discussion is a good moment for me to seek feedback on a project of
mine, the Social Media Alternatives Project (S-MAP, available at The project is meant to capture
screenshots and basic metadata about alternatives to Facebook and other
corporate social media.

It has a blog (a bit inactive now, but will pick up again soon), Omeka
archive, and bibliography.

I'd like feedback on the project, either on this list or off (to
robert at

The premise of the project is that these alternatives are just as worthy
of study as the mainstream corporate systems, and that they may provide
solutions to problems that this discussion of Facebook is revealing.

There are problems with the S-MAP: for one, I will have to buy a cert to
make it a secure site to protect visitors' privacy. I finally have the
funds to do so and will do so soon.

But a bigger problem is the labor of it. I'd love help: it's hard to
keep track of alternative projects. Many come online for a while and
then disappear. Some make a splash (ello, diaspora). But it's hard to
keep up. Perhaps there's a way to turn it into a more community-driven
archival project than what it is (somewhat a labor of love done by
myself and a PhD student at Utah)?

Again, feedback is welcome. I'm hoping the S-MAP could help groups such
as LibTech.



On 02/19/2017 12:57 PM, Alberto Cammozzo wrote:
> There is a "privacy divide" emerging issue there.
> Using FB may help to reach the masses, but some people (activists and
> not) will never use a FB account and will be unreachable.
> Same for Google: for instance, the link below to Google Docs is
> unavailable with my privacy setting.
> Some open source and selfhosted alternative to FB is listed here
> <>
> Alberto
> On 19/02/2017 20:36, Yosem Companys wrote:
>> First of all, I want to commend Steven for all he has done over the
>> years. He was a pioneer of e-democracy in the 1990s, when the Internet
>> was a mere curiosity for most people. And Steven has worked arduously
>> over the years to help foster e-democracy around the world. That is to
>> be commended and thanked.
>> That said, Thomas, you raise important points. If we look at the
>> alternatives out there for grassroots organizing, they tend to be
>> proprietary like NationBuilder. I do not know any open-source
>> alternatives off hand.
>> Please review Rand Strauss's list at
>> Kudos to Rand for putting the list together.
>> If I want to look for good open-source solutions to start a movement
>> and I'm not tech savvy, I need either someone to build it for me or I
>> want it to be easily installed on a server.
>> That is why Bram Wets' suggestions were so on point -- I repost them
>> here in case you missed them:
>>     Idea 1:
>>     An idea list where the Liberationtech community can post ideas for
>>     projects, upvote (and downvote) them, put your name with an idea
>>     to contribute.
>>     This would facilitate your call for ideas/projects ;-)
>>     I actually like the format of software bugtracking. It maybe can
>>     be used for such an idea list. Or a github-like structure with
>>     pullrequests...
>>     Idea 2:
>>     An overview of tips, good practices, tools and apps for secure
>>     communication and digital privacy. And the organisations and
>>     platforms that work on this topic.
>>     Yes, there is a lot out there and some organizations already have
>>     done terrific work. So the focus has to be on the overview, not on
>>     doing all there work over again.
>>     Additionally we can add good practices in how to reach people and
>>     teach them those privacy tools.
>> Just having a simple wiki of tools and people willing to help for free
>> or a nominal fee would be a contribution. Being able to evaluate tools
>> with up or down votes would also be a contribution.
>> In the meantime, if you go to sites like Progressive Exchange, you
>> will see that pretty much everyone recommends closed-source software
>> with questionable security for online organizing. Putting all your
>> activist friends on NationBuilder, for example, is a security risk. We
>> don't know if NationBuilder under a different management team might be
>> tempted or forced to give the entire list to the government for
>> surveillance purposes. 
>> And Rick has outlined the risks of Facebook already, as Thomas writes,
>> so I won't reiterate those. Maybe we need to build another Diaspora
>> and this time build it right: open-source, best encryption,
>> Napster-like one-to-one capabilities, hosting of data in servers in
>> privacy-friendly regimes, ability to connect to the large social
>> networking sites like Hootsuite for widespread dissemination,
>> non-profit or at least cooperative status, and so on.  
>> If this is a project folks are interested in, we can start doing some
>> research on what it should look like and look for funding sources to
>> make it happen.
>> Best,
>> Yosem
>> On Sun, Feb 19, 2017 at 11:10 AM, Thomas Delrue <thomas at
>> <mailto:thomas at>> wrote:
>>     On 02/19/2017 01:46 PM, Al Billings wrote:
>>     > Someone remind me again what the alternatives are to Facebook that
>>     > are actually easy to use for "normal" users and which they will be
>>     > able to quickly sign up and use...
>>     Oh, and before I forget, why the need to "sign up"? Why is that a
>>     requirement? If you're doing something that at some point could be
>>     deemed subversive, why would you maintain a list of members of said
>>     activity/thinking that can easily be requisitioned or compromised?
>>     Why does everyone need everyone else to sign up and hand over
>>     information in order to use a simple website? Why does everyone
>>     want to
>>     lock up everything behind a login-wall?
>>     Maybe that's the big problem... Everyone thinks that you need to
>>     maintain a list of users and a login form in order to run a simple
>>     website...
>>     --
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