There’s more detail in this post, but this is one of a series of posts investigating the Free-as-in-Freedom social networks that are available, to see how they compare to the for-profit networks that exploit users. Each post is an overview of the system I have been and will be working with, along my general impressions.

Feel free to contribute your own findings as I go, either on the same networks or pointers to and descriptions of any networks I may have missed.

Extra parts

Note that I’ve added a specific socialshowdown tag to easily collect these posts, if you want to easily find the others in the series.

We’re in the home stretch on this series, so unless I discover something new, I just have some cleanup before hitting the conclusions.

Twister, Revisited

When I discussed the Twister social network about a month ago, I didn’t have any useful information to go on, but twtxt user kas has informed me that Twister was fairly active in 2016 and that a small Twister community maintains a web-based search engine at https://twistnik.ru/, which gives a small insight into the kind of community the network supports.

Thanks, kas! I’m sorry it took me a month and a half to get around to correcting that.

On the Radar

And then there are a couple of networks I didn’t or couldn’t work with or get secondary information on, for various reasons.

Okuna

The Okuna (formerly Openbook) team describes itself as a “privacy-friendly, open-source and awesome social network giving 30% of it’s profit towards making the world a better place, now and forever.” It comes with a manifesto.

This is another system that wants to fund itself with a digital currency, though this time one that’s purchased (rather than mined) that allows them to extract transaction fees for ordinary commerce.

Of course, they also seem to need (real-world) money to do what at least fifteen other teams have done well without such funding, with a Kickstarter campaign, an IndieGoGo campaign, a Patreon campaign, and an open plea for an angel investor. It looks like they also plan to have a subscription-funded tier with more customization. (Disapora did run a Kickstarter campaign, of course, but also had a working network open to the public in weeks, which justifies that investment.)

…release as a centralized site and later expand to a decentralized architecture…

The plan is to release as a centralized site and later expand to a decentralized architecture, which…makes me question whether they know what they’re doing, especially with the desire to take subscriptions. I’m not the only one. A decent number of posts on the other Free Software social networks are exactly people questioning Okuna’s motives, since a lot of what they claim to want already exists.

If you’re especially motivated, they have released some code for apps and API layers without much documentation, but that might give some indication of what they’re doing. It looks like any servers are licensed under the AGPL and client-side code MIT or BSD. You can also sign up to their waiting list for an account; I’m #25,000, which doesn’t sound promising. So, the whole thing doesn’t quite look accessible to the rabble like us, but could eventually be useful.

BitNation

Decentralized Borderless Voluntary Nation

As I covered with ZeroNet, BitNation wants to be more than a social network, describing itself as the “world’s first Decentralized Borderless Voluntary Nation.” Basically, it’s an encrypted chat system with smart contracts on a blockchain and, of course, its own cryptocurrency (XPAT). I can’t even imagine that the most extremist libertarian would claim that’s enough for a nation, but maybe I’m overestimating them.

Anyway, it exists and it looks like code has been released under the MIT License, but the network is apparently only accessible through a phone app and I’m not entirely sure there’s a social network involved, so that takes it out of consideration for me, at least for the time being. My $150 diplomatic immunity in whatever imaginary countries recognize the sovereignty of BitNation will just have to wait, I guess.


Credits: The header image is untitled by an anonymous PxHere photographer and is made available under the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.