12 votes

If anyone can give us a real Facebook alternative, it’s Apple

33 comments

  1. [4]
    emdash
    Link
    What does Apple have to gain by running a social network, exactly? Apple has made it clear they go to extraordinary lengths to protect user privacy, to the extent that they consider user data a...
    • Exemplary

    They might trust Apple to protect the information they might put on a social network, too.

    What does Apple have to gain by running a social network, exactly? Apple has made it clear they go to extraordinary lengths to protect user privacy, to the extent that they consider user data a risk, not an asset (If you need more evidence of this, research how difficult it is to file a radar over Health-related data on the Apple Watch). That's not to say they don't have things to improve in this front, but it's obvious they go above and beyond other companies in the same field. Which company wants to be hit with GDPR compliance or data security fines?

    Social networks, as far as I can tell, can feasibly only make "above board" (aka non-advertising) money in a few ways: a marketplace, charging for features, or charging a subscription. None of these would be enough to have allowed Facebook to balloon to its current stock valuation, in fact, it's questionable whether it's even possible for a social network to be profitable sans-advertising.

    So, what makes a social network—effectively a collection of data Apple considers represents a liability for them— a beneficial positive for their ecosystem? If anything, they'd run a social network to enforce iOS stickiness. But, surprise surprise, they already have that. It's called iMessage. It works great, and it's already end to end encrypted.

    And given Mark's recent commentary about Facebook seeking to move away from a newsfeed-oriented network to a group & chat oriented network, it looks like Apple's already there: ready & waiting.

    19 votes
    1. Lawrencium265
      Link Parent
      I could see apple going to something like apple+ and charging $10/mo and including iTunes and other premium features. They already have an exclusive messaging system that people seem to like....

      I could see apple going to something like apple+ and charging $10/mo and including iTunes and other premium features. They already have an exclusive messaging system that people seem to like.

      Edit: apparently apple music is already $10/mo

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      When you say "stickiness", what do you mean? It doesn't seem to make sense to me, in any context I can figure so far, how iMessage plays a role at all similar to a social network. If anything,...

      If anything, they'd run a social network to enforce iOS stickiness. But, surprise surprise, they already have that. It's called iMessage. It works great, and it's already end to end encrypted.

      When you say "stickiness", what do you mean? It doesn't seem to make sense to me, in any context I can figure so far, how iMessage plays a role at all similar to a social network. If anything, it's far closer to Telegram and its ilk, and I find it difficult to call such a messaging service a "social network". So what is it that you're saying?

      1 vote
      1. Micycle_the_Bichael
        Link Parent
        iOs stickiness would be something that works for all OSes, but works better if you use iOs. So iMessage you can text anyone on any OS, but the app works better going iOs device to iOs device. It...

        iOs stickiness would be something that works for all OSes, but works better if you use iOs. So iMessage you can text anyone on any OS, but the app works better going iOs device to iOs device. It gives you an incentive to use iOs, but it doesn't cut inself off from all devices not using iOs.

        3 votes
  2. ras
    Link
    I'd almost argue that Apple does have a social network, and it's called iMessage.

    I'd almost argue that Apple does have a social network, and it's called iMessage.

    12 votes
  3. [16]
    alyaza
    Link
    i don't really buy this personally (nor do i think this idea is in any way desirable since it's just trading one gigantic corporation for another), but it's an interesting argument to toss out...

    i don't really buy this personally (nor do i think this idea is in any way desirable since it's just trading one gigantic corporation for another), but it's an interesting argument to toss out there and consider, i suppose.

    5 votes
    1. [15]
      Pilgrim
      Link Parent
      What do you see as an alternative? Something more de-centralized and open source like Mastadon?

      What do you see as an alternative? Something more de-centralized and open source like Mastadon?

      1. [14]
        alyaza
        Link Parent
        i don't know that any service can realistically replace facebook without eventually becoming like facebook is in most or all of the undesirable ways that define it, tbh. even something...

        i don't know that any service can realistically replace facebook without eventually becoming like facebook is in most or all of the undesirable ways that define it, tbh. even something decentralized like friendica fundamentally seems like it'd have a lot of those problems, just instead of affecting everyone they'd be particularly bad in some sections and better in others, which is only nominally an improvement.

        4 votes
        1. [13]
          Pilgrim
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Do you mean from a privacy standpoint or from the standpoint of people consuming too much social media, unrealistic expectations, keeping-up-with-the-jones stuff? I ask because I think something...

          Do you mean from a privacy standpoint or from the standpoint of people consuming too much social media, unrealistic expectations, keeping-up-with-the-jones stuff?

          I ask because I think something decentralized and open source solves a lot of the privacy/marketing concerns.

          1 vote
          1. unknown user
            Link Parent
            What kind of privacy are we talking about here? If it is privacy in the sense that your data not being accumulated in the hands of some company, decentalisation helps. But something like Facebook...

            What kind of privacy are we talking about here? If it is privacy in the sense that your data not being accumulated in the hands of some company, decentalisation helps. But something like Facebook does need a ton of data to function, because it is essentially an amalgamation of a suite of PIM, chat, calendar & social media apps into one giant guessing machine. The more privacy-friendly alternative to this would probably be using various more focused and potentially decentralised or committed-to-privacy services for different tasks that may use the fediverse (and thus maybe use one of your fediverse logins instead of needing new credentials) or may not, but may not nonconsensually communicate with one another. IDK what Friendica is like, but if it will be anything like what I see on my mom's phone, it needs to chew on a ton of data and it needs to be an all-encompassing essentially-anti-privacy piece of software.

            4 votes
          2. [11]
            alyaza
            Link Parent
            i mean from an almost everything stand point. at the small scale most decentralized platforms operate at, these things work fine, but when we're talking replacing facebook or twitter, i don't...

            i mean from an almost everything stand point. at the small scale most decentralized platforms operate at, these things work fine, but when we're talking replacing facebook or twitter, i don't think that scales at all at this point or will anytime soon. mastodon for example works because as a platform, it has less than probably... 300,000 unique users? if you suddenly foisted how it operates now (or even will operate five years from now, probably) to the 321 million twitter users there are, i think mastodon would break down and cease to function like it does currently in a matter of hours because the model it operates on simply isn't designed for that many people all at once. it would be entirely too much and it would all unravel, rendering it kind of a moot issue. monetization or advertising and privacy would be the third or fourth biggest problems. this is even more true of frendica and its generous 5,000 users

            the reality is, very few services (much less decentralized ones) have ever had to take on the prospect of handling a significant percentage of internet traffic, and i think at some point there are only so many ways you can go about that given the infrastructure, security, financial, and social considerations that have to be made and maintained for it all to work. i just don't think even if you wanted to, you could be super "for privacy" and data-free like tildes is with a website like facebook, or super against the status quo of advertising, or bold things like that. you'd either become too beholden to other people's financial, social, political capital to do that or you'd flame out before then because those things seem to be the only way to do things, realistically. even with all the shit it does, it was like a decade before twitter started turning profits, which is simply not viable if you're trying to build something from the ground up like mastodon or friendica or whatever else.

            1. [7]
              Pilgrim
              Link Parent
              I disagree. Your first paragraph is a hypothetical influx of all Twitter users to a single platform and wouldn't reasonably happen. There is no reason a service can't grow over time, just as all...

              I disagree. Your first paragraph is a hypothetical influx of all Twitter users to a single platform and wouldn't reasonably happen. There is no reason a service can't grow over time, just as all social media platforms have in the past, including Twitter.

              i just don't think even if you wanted to, you could be super "for privacy" and data-free like tildes is with a website like facebook, or super against the status quo of advertising, or bold things like that.

              Reddit was like this for quite a long time. Little to no advertising. No identifiable info unless you provided them a real email address. Then there is 4Chan and it's many clones. What you describe is a key part of the dream of what the internet could be that we all shared back in the 80s when PCs became common. I also think it's part of what Tildes is seeking to be.

              I don't think there is an easy solution, but I reject the idea that there is no solution.

              1 vote
              1. [6]
                alyaza
                Link Parent
                yes, because we're talking about something replacing facebook or twitter (i.e. presumably taking on most or all of their 321 million or 2 billion users respectively). one point you're missing:...

                I disagree. Your first paragraph is a hypothetical influx of all Twitter users to a single platform and wouldn't reasonably happen. There is no reason a service can't grow over time, just as all social media platforms have in the past, including Twitter.

                yes, because we're talking about something replacing facebook or twitter (i.e. presumably taking on most or all of their 321 million or 2 billion users respectively).

                Reddit was like this for quite a long time. Little to no advertising. No identifiable info unless you provided them a real email address. Then there is 4Chan and it's many clones. What you describe is a key part of the dream of what the internet could be that we all shared back in the 80s when PCs became common. I also think it's part of what Tildes is seeking to be.

                one point you're missing: reddit has had VC backing and been owned by conde nast for years at this point which has allowed them to continue to exist like that despite probably losing money for most of their existence like every other social media site (although now they seem to be finally paying the piper for all of that in how they're angling themselves) and hosting 4chan ran moot's finances into the ground for a long, long time, even with its relatively lightweight design. which is my point. most huge social media sites aren't profitable or only just became profitable, and either exist on VC charity or are subsidized by the company owning them's other side stuff until they do become profitable.

                1. [5]
                  Pilgrim
                  Link Parent
                  That's a good point about funding and is probably the biggest missing piece. But I think that's where we're seeing some movement with things like Mastadon where anyone can participate in hosting...

                  That's a good point about funding and is probably the biggest missing piece.

                  But I think that's where we're seeing some movement with things like Mastadon where anyone can participate in hosting so that becomes a shared cost. Development is open-source and supported by donations. I'll be curious how it develops over the next ten years or so.

                  1. [4]
                    Arshan
                    Link Parent
                    I would like to agree, but I can't see a way to avoid sysmin overload. Hosting a Mastodon instance iisn't difficult when you know what you are doing and its just your friends. But as soon as you...

                    I would like to agree, but I can't see a way to avoid sysmin overload. Hosting a Mastodon instance iisn't difficult when you know what you are doing and its just your friends. But as soon as you are replacing Twitter, you need to make sure your server is production quality. This puts a ton of pressure on people who are just doing this as a hobby. It is a hard sell to tell people to work two jobs and only one pays.

                    1 vote
                    1. [3]
                      Pilgrim
                      Link Parent
                      I haven't ran a Mastadon instance myself so I do not know what all it entails, but I'm hopeful that we can find something. Many things are funded through donations - of both time and money - so...

                      I haven't ran a Mastadon instance myself so I do not know what all it entails, but I'm hopeful that we can find something. Many things are funded through donations - of both time and money - so I'm not completely sold on the idea that there has to be a profit motive.

                      1. [2]
                        Arshan
                        Link Parent
                        I agree, but that is why I can't see a federated network working. It requires to much upkeep. A decentralized P2P network only needs developers to maintain the code, which is the bare minimum for...

                        I agree, but that is why I can't see a federated network working. It requires to much upkeep. A decentralized P2P network only needs developers to maintain the code, which is the bare minimum for any project anyway.

                        1. Pilgrim
                          Link Parent
                          Yes, that would be an ideal solution.

                          decentralized P2P

                          Yes, that would be an ideal solution.

            2. [3]
              lionirdeadman
              Link Parent
              Actually Mastodon has about 2 million users, it's unknown how much are unique but certainly a lot more than 300k, considering the decentralized nature, it should have little problems scaling...

              i don't think that scales at all at this point or will anytime soon. mastodon for example works because as a platform, it has less than probably... 300,000 unique users? if you suddenly foisted how it operates now (or even will operate five years from now, probably) to the 321 million twitter users there are,

              Actually Mastodon has about 2 million users, it's unknown how much are unique but certainly a lot more than 300k, considering the decentralized nature, it should have little problems scaling upwards as long as no one instance gets everyone.

              1. [2]
                alyaza
                Link Parent
                at the literal most, i think it has maybe half a million or so users because of mechanics like account migration and the fact that you can segment your presence. i, for example, have two separate...

                Actually Mastodon has about 2 million users, it's unknown how much are unique but certainly a lot more than 300k,

                at the literal most, i think it has maybe half a million or so users because of mechanics like account migration and the fact that you can segment your presence. i, for example, have two separate accounts which i use on and off, and so do most of the people i know who use mastodon. it has a lot of duplicate or inactive accounts, which makes me very bullish on how many users it has even though it has 2 million accounts. (also regardless, the difference between 300,000 and even a million relative to like, twitter's scale is pretty meaningless: instead of multiplying by 321 you multiply by... 300, which is still obscene and worlds of difference.)

                2 votes
                1. zaarn
                  Link Parent
                  If it was 300'000 the factor is 1'086, for 1 million 326, that's a lot of difference and certainly not meaningless. On the count of multiple accounts; the top 20 mastodon instances already crack 1...

                  If it was 300'000 the factor is 1'086, for 1 million 326, that's a lot of difference and certainly not meaningless.

                  On the count of multiple accounts; the top 20 mastodon instances already crack 1 million easily and I don't think there will be that much of multiple accounts between them, while I do know people with multiple accounts, most people have 1 account by my experience as administrator, so the number of actual users is likely somewhere around the 2 million total (which puts the multiplier at somewhere around 163).

                  1 vote
  4. NoblePath
    Link
    Apple tried this once already at least. I think it was called ping.

    Apple tried this once already at least. I think it was called ping.

    2 votes
  5. Hypersapien
    Link
    I think the only real Facebook killer that would be immune to all the problems that Facebook has would be a truly distributed system. An open source or public domain framework that anyone can set...

    I think the only real Facebook killer that would be immune to all the problems that Facebook has would be a truly distributed system. An open source or public domain framework that anyone can set up on their own server, and where all the servers can communicate and interact with each other. Much like email.

    2 votes
  6. JXM
    Link
    Apple has made many halfhearted attempts at making it's own social networks. Does anyone remember Ping? It bombed hard. If I recall, Facebook pulled support from it days before it was supposed to...

    Apple has made many halfhearted attempts at making it's own social networks.

    Does anyone remember Ping? It bombed hard. If I recall, Facebook pulled support from it days before it was supposed to be announced.

    What about all the social features they built into Apple Music that nobody uses?

    2 votes
  7. [9]
    suspended
    Link
    I've been alpha/beta-testing all sorts of platforms for many years. Here's an uncompleted list: Gmail Orkut Facebook Google Wave Google Plus Reddit Imzy Campfire Tildes And here I am now,...

    I've been alpha/beta-testing all sorts of platforms for many years.

    Here's an uncompleted list:

    • Gmail
    • Orkut
    • Facebook
    • Google Wave
    • Google Plus
    • Reddit
    • Imzy
    • Campfire
    • Tildes

    And here I am now, wondering if we've got it all figured out. Take a look back at that uncompleted list and tell me what you see.

    I'd, really, like to know. I've been doing this for so long and it seems that we are getting nowhere. On the other hand, I am still willing to give it another shot. Will Tildes get it right this time?

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      a_wild_swarm_appears
      Link Parent
      I really loved the concept of google wave. It was really innovative.

      I really loved the concept of google wave. It was really innovative.

      4 votes
      1. ras
        Link Parent
        I remember watching the announcement of it live and being amazed. I wish they could've figured out some way to use it other than integrating its pieces into Google Docs, etc.

        I remember watching the announcement of it live and being amazed. I wish they could've figured out some way to use it other than integrating its pieces into Google Docs, etc.

        1 vote
      2. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        I feel like most of the ideas have been folded into platforms like Slack and Discord at this point. But it's really hard to beat the federated, decentralized nature of email if you want universal...

        I feel like most of the ideas have been folded into platforms like Slack and Discord at this point. But it's really hard to beat the federated, decentralized nature of email if you want universal interoperability. The reason so many of these "social" networks fail to get that kind of ubiquity is because of the vendor lock in to use the technology. Wave didn't address that.

    2. [5]
      edenist
      Link Parent
      Maybe there is no way to get it right.

      Maybe there is no way to get it right.

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        suspended
        Link Parent
        I'd say your assessment is plausible. And I'm being optimistic.

        I'd say your assessment is plausible. And I'm being optimistic.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          edenist
          Link Parent
          Yeah I mean my comment may have come off as a cynical quip, but I genuinely think about the point you brought up quite frequently. At the moment, there is much discussion in contemporary media...

          Yeah I mean my comment may have come off as a cynical quip, but I genuinely think about the point you brought up quite frequently.

          At the moment, there is much discussion in contemporary media about the "problems" with social media. There's the usual examples of public figures getting in hot water over statements made on various platforms, but in particular there is talk about "trolls" and cyberbullying as what I consider the more socially pressing issues.

          And like clockwork the usual spiel is made about how the problem is anonymity, that there is no accountability and that governments and platforms need to make rules to make people identifiable.

          The thing that gets me is that all I can think is..... well, what if the problem is social media itself. What if the problem is that there is no longer any separation between online life and real life. My wife and I were watching some movies from the 90s last week and it's interesting to be reminded of the different mentality that went along with the separation of online activities. The use of the word 'handle' caught me off guard. You absolutely did not put your real information online in the 90's!

          I try to ground myself when going down this line of thought. It's easy to go down the traditional route of inter-generational disconnect. Books, TV, Radio, Music have all been on the path of destroying the minds of our youth at one point or another! It's also easy to get nostalgic about the good 'ol days of using the internet in the 90s and 00s. But I do have to concede that it was much more relaxing. Not having your real name was important; it put a clear distinction between real and online life. There were trolls, but in general it was easy to ignore them and move on. There was no threat of doxxing or actual consequences of an argument if one did occur. And when you were offline, you were offline. Not having to worry about the constant feed of information and updates and likes and replies. The internet of old didn't take it self too seriously, and I think we have lost that.

          All that is to say, I don't think there is a way to get social media right because as much as I try to come up with an alternative, I am of the opinion that we just aren't wired up to effectively handle the mental load it adds to our society [Facebook most certainly].

          Maybe tildes strikes a good balance? I'm curious to see if this is true as it continues to grow. But I don't see it hitting critical mass in it's current form unless there's some sort of mass recession away from current forms of social media. And frankly that just seems unlikely.

          tldr; maybe I'm just an old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn. But I try not to be! :-)

          5 votes
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            I think you're close here, but I'd change it slightly. Our lives aren't divided into "online" and "real life." Our social lives are actually extremely multi-faceted. I have a different self that I...

            What if the problem is that there is no longer any separation between online life and real life.

            I think you're close here, but I'd change it slightly. Our lives aren't divided into "online" and "real life." Our social lives are actually extremely multi-faceted. I have a different self that I present to my parents, my family, my professional circles, and my various circles of friends.

            The main problem with social media is that it doesn't let you code switch. Or rather, it gives you no control over which code your commentary will be read in. For example, I maintain different personas that I present to my parents, my wife, each of my different circles of friends, in professional settings, my general "public" face, etc.

            But what social media does is that 90% of the time you're speaking in one persona, but people from all your other circles can read it. A good example is Dave Chapelle and his show. He had a total breakdown when he realized that a lot of his edgy humor that was intended to make fun of racism and racial stereotypes were being interpreted by people as excuses to laugh at Black people rather than laughing with them as he intended. Twitter and Facebook are entirely designed to foster this problem. They assume I want to talk to everyone all the time, but I actually just want to talk to a handful of people at a time.

            I don't think the idea of broadcasting every comment and phrase is workable. I don't think it was ever even really desirable. It's assuming each member of the network is an "advertiser" trying to get their message out rather than a person trying to engage with their communities.

            Also, there is a fundamental tension between anonymity and archiving everything forever and making it publicly searchable. Even if you're formally "anonymous," eventually people will find your stuff. This makes a lot of anti-social/bullying behaviors, like doxxing, possible. Even the platforms that aren't anonymous have a problem with saving all of your interactions for anyone to see. People grow and change and sometimes say things to people they know that will be read wrongly by the general public. This is a tougher problem to solve because people actually don't want to lose their old stuff, and so many of our interactions are so trivial that it's not worth it to go through and cull or edit. I don't really know what the fix here would be.

            4 votes
          2. lobtask
            Link Parent
            I think websites such as Tildes and VSCO are slowly zero-ing in on what the optimal social media is. Maybe the best one is a collection of websites. Im excited to see what pops up in the near...

            I think websites such as Tildes and VSCO are slowly zero-ing in on what the optimal social media is. Maybe the best one is a collection of websites. Im excited to see what pops up in the near future regarding social networks. I believe that Reddit is the last mainstream website that still has handles and going offline.