Decentralised Social Media; What Do Users Care About?

I was writing an article about this but got bored

But essentially I was thinking about the user’s perspective of federated social media

I realise that a lot of Fedi projects start with some sort of principles, a tech stack, a protocol, etc, but most people really don’t care about that… somewhat

So like, what’s the user’s pros and cons of federated social media?

Two big pros are, one, you can’t be truly banned. I don’t think most people really care about this because most people don’t make ban-able content.

However some people are starting to complain; for example, nudists have been the subject of sudden bans on Twitter. And people on TikTok/YouTube Shorts have started “soft” self-censoring.

The “soft” self-censoring is pretty bad. However, when entire communities are at the risk of outright bans, there is an alternative — alternative centralised social media silos, so it might not be that much of a pro there either.

The second pro is that you can modify how the server works. But chatbots do the same thing; see how sophisticated Discord, Telegram, Reddit and Twitter bots have become. So the pro here would be more of the ability to retain control of how the server works. But similarly to the last pro, people can and have moved silos before if the old one got really bad… so it might not be much of a pro there either.

For cons, there are also two big ones. The first one is discovery. I think most people like recommendation engines, which especially helps with the onboarding when you aren’t following many people yet. Same with searchability; imagine using YouTube without the search bar.

The second one is ease of use; choosing a server, seeing limited replies, no backfeeding, server crashes, admin drama and having to do backups (if you self host) all introduce friction that centralised services don’t have. I wonder if it’s worth it.

My final point is that I just wanted to encourage project owners to see things more from the perspective of use cases, instead of protocols, tech stacks or principles. What does the user care about?

thanks for coming to my ted talk

and i guess i wanted to invite some discussion on the pros/cons here; for example, one of the things i realised is that (1) unban-ability might not be as big of a pro as I thought it was, because of alternative social networks (e.g. for nudists) and (2) bots and APIs are great alternatives to having control of the code