To have an online presence that is cancel-resistant it is useful to look at what some cancel-prone systems have in common.
Traditional cancel-prone services tend to have the following traits:
* Privately owned
* Vendor lock in
* Closed source / proprietary / intellectual property
The typical "Big Tech" solutions have all these traits.
It is possible for a solution that has all of these traits to be cancel-resistant for a while, but there is no guarantee that it will continue to be in the future.
* If the platform is privately owned
, it will probably be purchased by another entity at some point. If that new entity doesn't value cancel-resistance, they are likely to deplatform some users. (Google/Twitter/Facebook/"Big Tech")
* If the platform has vendor lock in
, deplatformed users will have an uphill battle trying to establish themselves elsewhere. They can lose access to their old content, subscriber base, calendars, and email. (Jordan Peterson)
* If the platform is closed source
or encumbered with intellectual property
users can be prevented from hosting their own infrastructure when they are deplatformed. (VMWare?)
* If the platform is centralized
, the entire service can be deplatformed by any of their service providers. (Parler/AWS/GoDaddy)
There are many benefits to using these Big Tech cancel-prone services. They spend quite a lot of time and money helping ensure that end users have a good experience. Vendor lock in
is expected when platforms integrate many of their own services into a platform. Centralization
isn't a detriment unless downtime or cancellation are concerns.
A big benefit to the cancel-prone services is their ability to suppress unwanted content. Nobody wants SPAM. But few people can agree on where the line should be drawn between what is wanted and what is unwanted. Some folks want to cut out all the SPAM even if it removes some of the good content. Others want all of the good content even if it lets some SPAM through.
With the dominant big tech solutions, we're outsourcing the SPAM filtering to a private company.
In short the typical solutions "just work" without hassle for end users. Unless the content they want starts getting treated like SPAM.
SPAM is typically associated with email, and for good reason.
Email is everywhere. Email isn't privately owned, it doesn't have vendor lock in, it isn't proprietary, nor is it completely centralized.
Anyone can host their own email server, receive email from anyone or send email.
SPAM is an issue specifically because email is cancel-resistant. Fortunately, because email is cancel-resistant, anyone can host their own email service and take SPAM filtering into their own hands. They can also host email services for others who want to outsource their SPAM filtering.
When Gmail filters SPAM, it keeps it around for the users to investigate. YouTube/Twitter/Facebook keep this process opaque. Users cannot see whether they're filtering content in a manner that is acceptable.Email is cancel-resistant for the same reasons that email SPAM is prevalent.
There are other projects and services that are similar to email and are cancel-resistant.
* Free software / open source software / owned by everyone
* Public and open standards / no vendor lock in
Some examples of cancel-resistant projects with these traits that have endured the test of time are:
These are all disruptive technologies that have proven themselves to be anti-fragile and resilient when faced with opposition by extremely powerful forces. They also have barriers to entry for regular end users.
More recently there have been a few attempts at creating cancel-resistant social media that share similar traits.
Those attempts have lead to something called "The Fediverse" or "Federated Social Networks". If someone wants to have a cancel-resistant presence on social media today, they should actively be looking at the fediverse.
These are some projects that support the dominant federated protocol ActivityPub
They can all "speak" ActivityPub. They can all be self-hosted for maximum flexibility. Some have large public instances hosted by the creators or the community for people to join.(This post was written on Hubzilla and distributed to folks using ActivityPub or Hubzilla's internal protocol Zot.)
For regular users, it is probably best for them to find an existing federated instance to join. Many of them are small and lack both the benefits and the drawbacks of centralized, big tech social media.
Here are some tools that are helpful when looking for an instance to join: https://instances.social/ https://the-federation.info/protocol/activitypub https://the-federation.info/hubzilla Remember:
It doesn't matter which instance you choose as long as it works for you. The same way it doesn't matter if you choose GMail or Yahoo or Hotmail for your email provider. Choose one that works for you and you should be good to go.
For content creators, the best method is to take full control and self host one of the above solutions.
I hope to do another post in the future focusing on my favorite federated solutions.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments and I'll do what I can to help.