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    1. Who's on the fediverse?

      There was a thread about this coincidentally exactly one year ago, give or take three hours. Ah, to be back in January 2020 I've been poking around on the fediverse again and I figured I'll never...

      There was a thread about this coincidentally exactly one year ago, give or take three hours. Ah, to be back in January 2020

      I've been poking around on the fediverse again and I figured I'll never start using it unless I'm following some people. So, who here is on it? Please share some other people you follow, if you like.

      I made an account a while back, and it was on the default instance since I didn't know any others to choose. I feel like it's a deliberate choice though (if nothing else it will give me a more curated timeline to scroll through) so I'd like to be deliberate about it at some point.

      17 votes
    2. Are there any viable alternatives for Facebook?

      A lot of people are currently switching over from WhatsApp to Signal right now, and the two are comparable enough that Signal can pretty much act as a drop-in replacement for WhatsApp. They have...

      A lot of people are currently switching over from WhatsApp to Signal right now, and the two are comparable enough that Signal can pretty much act as a drop-in replacement for WhatsApp. They have very comparable features, and Signal is easy enough to use that it's adoptable by non-techy people.

      Does something similar exist for Facebook? I'm fully aware of the network effects that keep people on Facebook, but let's pretend a lot of people wanted to leave that platform and migrate elsewhere. Is there anything that has a similar featureset and that is usable by the general population?

      22 votes
    3. The Great Deplatforming: An alternate explanation for the Parler, et al, shutdowns

      A common current narrative is that tech monopolists are suddenly acting of their own initiative and inconcert to deplatform the burgeoning fascist insurgent movement within the US. I approve the...

      A common current narrative is that tech monopolists are suddenly acting of their own initiative and inconcert to deplatform the burgeoning fascist insurgent movement within the US. I approve the deplatforming strongly, though I suspect an alternative significant motivating and coordfinating factor.

      An example of the "tech monopoly abuse" narrative is Glenn Greenwald's more than slightly unhinged "How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler"

      Greenwald's argument hinges on emotion, insinuation, invective, a completely unfounded premise, an absolute absence of evidence, and no consideration of alternative explanations: an overwhelmingly plausible ongoing law enforcement and national security operation, likely under sealed or classified indictments or warrants, in the face of ongoing deadly sedition lead by the President of the United States himself, including against the person of his own vice president and credible threats against the President-Elect and Inauguration.

      Such an legal action is, of course, extraordinarily difficult to prove, and I cannot prove it. A critical clue for me, however, is the defection not just of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Stripe, and other tech firms, but of Parler's legal counsel, who would have to be an exceptionally stealth-mode startup to fit Greenwald's, or other's, "it's the tech monopolists" narrative. I've tempered my degree of assurance and language ("plausible" rather than "probable"). Time will tell. But a keen and critical mind such as Grenwald's should at least be weighing the possibility. He instead seems bent only on piking old sworn enemies, with less evidence or coherence than I offer.

      This is the crux of Greenwald's argument. It's all he's got:

      On Thursday, Parler was the most popular app in the United States. By Monday, three of the four Silicon Valley monopolies united to destroy it.

      I'm no friend of the tech monopolists myself. The power demonstrated here does concern me, greatly. I've long railed against Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, among other tech monopolists. Largely because as monopolies they are power loci acting through their occupation of a common resource, outside common control, and not serving the common weal. Hell: Facebook, Google (YouTube), Reddit, and Twitter played a massive role in creating the current fascist insurrection in the US, along with even more enthusiastic aid and comfort from traditional media, across the spectrum. Damage that will take decades to repair, if ever.

      But, if my hypothesis is correct, the alternative explanation would bet he opposite of this: the state asserting power over and through monopolies in the common interest, in support of democratic principles, for the common weal. And that I can support.

      I don't know that this is the case. I find it curious that I seem to be the only voice suggesting it. Time should tell.

      And after this is over, yes, Silicon Valley, in its metonymic sense standing for the US and global tech industry, has to face its monopoly problem, its free speech problem (in both sincere and insincere senses), its surveillance problem (capitalist, state, criminal, rogue actor), its censorship problem, its propaganda problem (mass and computational), its targeted manipulation adtech problem, its trust problem, its identity problem, its truth and disinformation problems, its tax avoidance problem, its political influence problem.

      Virtually all of which are inherent aspects of monopoly: "Propaganda, censorship, and surveillance are all attributes of monopoly" https://joindiaspora.com/posts/7bfcf170eefc013863fa002590d8e506
      HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24771470

      But, speaking as a space alien cat myself, Greenwald is so far off base here he's exited the Galaxy.


      Update: 2h30m after posting, NPR have mentioned sealed indictments and speculated on whether the President might be charged, in special coverage.

      19 votes
    4. Many people here believe that social media can't be both large and have good discussion because the human brain isn't made to interact with large numbers of people. What do you think of this?

      p.s the difference between this post and this post is that I want to ask questions and get people's opinions and answers in this one more. Here's a few examples, last one being an argument between...

      p.s the difference between this post and this post is that I want to ask questions and get people's opinions and answers in this one more.

      Here's a few examples, last one being an argument between a few people where most people, including Deimos agreed with this idea.

      Personally, I find this idea almost terrifying because it implies social media in it's current form cannot be fixed by changing or expanding human or automoderation, nor fact checking, because moderation can't reasonably occur at scale at all.

      However, I have 2 questions:

      1: If large social media platforms can't really be moderated what should we do to them? The implied solution is balkanizing social media until the 'platforms' are extended social circles which can be moderated and have good discussion (or more practically, integrate them to a federated service like mastodon which is made to be split like this or something like discord.) An alternative I've heard is to redo the early 2000s and have fanforums for everything to avoid context collapse and have something gluing the site's users together (something I am far more supportive of) or a reason for invite systems and stricter control of who enters your site but doesn't explain the idea that once your site hits a certain usercount, it will inevitably worsen and that is something that stems from human nature (Dunbar's number aka the max amount of friends you could theoretically have) and so is inevitable, almost natural.

      2: Why is moderation impossible to do well at large scales? While I think moderation, which I think is analogous to law enforcement or legal systems (though the many reddit mods here can definitely give their opinions on that) definitely likely isn't the kind of thing that can be done at a profit, I'm not entirely sure why would it be wholly impossible. A reason I've heard is that moderators need to understand the communities they're moderating, but I'm not sure why wouldn't that be a requirement, or why would adding more mods make that worse (mods disagreeing with eachother while moderating seems quite likely but unrelated to this.)

      20 votes
    5. LinkLonk - A link aggregator with a trust system

      I built a link sharing website where you connect to users that share your interests. When you upvote a link - you connect to other users who upvoted that link and LinkLonk shows you what else...

      I built a link sharing website where you connect to users that share your interests. When you upvote a link - you connect to other users who upvoted that link and LinkLonk shows you what else these users upvoted.

      The more in common you have with another user the more prominently their other recommendations appear on your list.

      The intuition is that the more useful your past recommendations have been for me, the more I can trust your future recommendations.

      This is how trust works in meatspace - we keep track of how positive our experiences have been with other people and use that track record to decide who we can trust in the future.

      Except that mechanism does not work online. It just does not scale to the numbers of users we interact with. We can remember around 150 other people (the Dunbar number). Beyond that our builtin trust mechanism breaks down. We revert to more coarse and primitive trust mechanisms such as tribalism and mistrust in everyone.

      While we cannot personally keep track of every user on a platform - that is what computers are good at.

      That is the idea behind LinkLonk. You don't need to remember the names of users who you can trust (in fact there are no usernames on LinkLonk). You simply upvote content that was useful to you and LinkLonk constantly keeps track of how useful every other user has been and ranks new content accordingly.

      Another important part of trust is that if you misplace your trust in someone and they let you down then you need a mechanism to stop trusting them.

      This is what the downvote button is used for: when you downvote an item, LinkLonk reduces your “trust” in other users that upvoted it. As a result, you will see less content from those users.

      The above describes the basic idea. There are a couple more concepts:

      • You start off weakly connected to all users, which means that at first you see content sorted by popularity. Rate something and refresh the page - the ranking will change.
      • You are not limited to a single persona/interest. If you have multiple interests then you can create a separate collection for each of your interests. When you upvote a link you can choose what collection it belongs to. For example, if you are interested in woodworking and music then you can create two collections and put woodworking links into one and music links into the other. Then other people who liked your woodworking recommendations will only see your other recommendations from the same collection and will not get your music. This is mostly a way for you to help other users find relevant content. It’s optional. You can put everything into the “default” collection if you don’t feel like organizing.
      • LinkLonk has another source of recommendations - RSS feeds. When you upvote a blog post LinkLonk connects to the RSS feed of that blog - as if it was another user. LinkLonk pulls updates from the feed and shows you the new entries using the same ranking algorithm: the more you upvote items from the feed the higher the other items from the feed are ranked. You can submit any RSS url and LinkLonk will connect (subscribe) you to it. My hope is that in the early days when we don't have many users you would find LinkLonk useful as a sort of an RSS reader.
      • Moderation. When you downvote an item then you get connected to other users who also downvoted that same item. In other words, you will trust their other downvotes. If they downvote something then that item will rank lower for you.

      Give it a try at: https://linklonk.com/register with 'tildes' as the invitation code. The invitation code can be used multiple times and I will keep it active for a few days. After that please DM me to get a fresh code.

      I’m posting this on Tildes in part because I like the group of people that Tildes has attracted. And I also feel the topics of trust systems, content curation and moderation are relevant to Tildes and to its users (see: https://docs.tildes.net/future-plans#trustreputation-system-for-moderation).

      What do you think?

      27 votes