A neutral and genuinely democratic social media platform


#1

In the face of Facebook’s most recent security debate the question arises why no European alternative to America’s big internet companies like Google and Facebook has emerged as of yet. In fact, no new privately owned competitor to Facebook or Google seems to be on the horizon. These companies appear to be too big and powerful for others to threaten their monopoly position.

Social Media will, despite Facebook’s security disaster, keep its importance as a tool of debate and opinion making within the democratic discourse. However, this role undoubtedly is too important and too sensitive to leave it in the hands of pri­vately owned companies in the US.

Platform companies like Facebook rely on profit and hence it’s no surprise that the amount of advertising we see on these networks is increasing on a daily basis. Furthermore our data is saved, analysed and sold, building the base for vote rigging which could be wit­nessed in every single election that has recently occurred.

It appears absolutely essential for Europe to find its own way in dealing with future digital challenges. It’s clearly not enough setting up taxes and regulations for multinational plat­form companies.

So why not set up our own publicly funded European social network?

We have to build an alternate social platform based on our European ideas and values of privacy and security standards. A genuine democratic flagship project could be the key to a strong and cohesive Europe. We should be aware of the fact that data protection and information self-determination are fundamental rights of any citizen in the digital age. A project like that would pro­vide an opportunity for Europe to go ahead and create the technical under­pinning of a 21st-century revolution of democracy. Besides, a European social network would support the local economy in different ways and affect various areas of life. For instance:

Media and Journalism

We are currently witnessing a radical change in media consumption. Citizens no longer access news directly via newspaper websites. Instead, scrolling down your Facebook generated newsfeed has become much more common. This is in many ways problematic. Since newspaper articles only appear in the user’s newsfeed if the media company promotes their own articles, journalism and media compan­­ies are being forced to pay to generate their readers. As a consequence only those mass media companies that have the money will continue to generate their readers successfully and vica versa. More­over, local media companies are gradually losing valuable advertising clients to platform companies in the US. All in all the dominance of Facebook has been affecting the European media landscape in a neg­ative way and will continue to do so unless alternate social media platforms will be established. Therefore a democratic European platform would be a vital tool to support local news companies equally and would also bring about a more democratic discourse in general.

Small companies and start-ups

Lots of small companies and start-ups have managed to grad­u­ally gain thousands of loyal online followers over the years. In the early days of the platform this was a good way to reach all those people in an easy and convenient way. However, as Facebook started to expand it also started to convert its free service into a business. Since then small companies (just like any type of advertiser) have been forced to pay in order to get their content into their followers’ and fans’ neewsfeed. A European network could provide this service in order to support and fund small businesses and start-ups for free.

Finance

As the public broadcasting fee has come under scrutiny in lots of European member states it may also be the right time to address the question whether the forms of media services currently offered by public broadcasting organizations is still compatible with modern media consumption. As social media has become today’s most popular source of information and news acquisition, it appears to be the duty of the European Union and its member states to provide its cit­izens with a neutral, genuinely democratic social media platform which is not dependent on selling its user data for profit.


#2

Hey Kris_B … could you please send this statement to the following e-mail: [email protected] ?
I’m about to conduct (amongst others) the green paper for the tech-pillar and we have some related ideas. If you send it as an email we are able to consider this proposal as a unique input. Thanks a lot!

You can see one related proposal here:


#3

This is a great initiative and I have similar thoughts about this topic for a long time. Also, I find it pretty strange that it seems nobody from Europe have a problem with the monopoly of Google/Facebook (at least I haven’t seen any significant initiative), which is senseless even from a business point of view (if we strip out all of the other implications).
I have no doubts that European IT community would be capable of creating such a new platform(s) - after all, WWW was invented in Europe and many cool European companies with very cool features were acquired by American companies so far, only to be built into their platforms.
Great case study, too, congrats!


#4

Should or could it include labour search and find functions? What about financial transactions? Buying and selling? There are many other examples of private company monopoles that provide a good service - but on their price terms and data conditions. I really wish there was an alternative to Facebook. I see great potential of shaping a European public with such a tool.


#5

It would be good if we had EuropeanSpring practitioners who could build such a network for Europe. If we then still had experts who can estimate the costs, it would be possible to capture fixed costs and running costs. Determining the possible number of participants and transferring the costs to the participants would be the next step.
Why do not we just do it?


#6

Today most people think Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other sites like this are for free to use. Most people will choose the free and largest supplier of this kind of services and forget / dont (want to) know the information these sites collect about them is the price they pay for using this. And don’t want to pay for using a smaller less known compettitor of these sites. To be able to compete with the larger existing sites the new sites must be free of charge using them too. Cost for this can be paid with ony a small part of the advertising or for lower cost per advertising what the existing sites charge today Or using public funds for this.


#7

But if we do not start with it, it will not work.


#8

Please keep an eye on the first green paper on Technological Sovereignty (https://diem25.org/progressive-agenda-for-europe/#1499784427183-5d0dbe68-f40d) where I’m about ot add a rough draft of such a platform as a mid-term goal. I’m not sure if i’ll manage to get it done in the 1st green paper, but it will eventually be added for sure!


#9

Hi David,

just went into a dead end, when trying to help a composer (@Nicholas) to publish one of his works
on the DiE;25_platform. Wouldn´t be of any relevance, if I wasn´t sceptical about FB
as well (see above & @Kris_B). Do you know, where these media-technology-issues and
the website-operations (practical) are discussed within DiEM/EuropeanSpring?

Greets,
Stefan


#10

Hi Stefan,

what DiEM25 platform are you referring to? I wouldn’t know about any part of the DiEM-web-universe where it’d make sense to publish music … Could you elaborate?


#11

Hi (again - you´re lucky - was 5 minutes from shutting down my comp),

sense< is a word too much. It´s possible to upload and download audio/video-files of mx 20MB (legal!-like my tested Chomsky-file) via mattermost. Effect: You´re not just exhangeing your progress with your direct
associate, but let the others participate/join.

Directly to the topic: What about an open DiEM_platform (Sympathy-Book :grinning: ) for everyone (first login) and a second platform_space for explicitely DiEM_members (second login) for political and organisational purposes? And… in the end… including some enhanced technical capabilties?

So. Now I´ve got to log out.

Work´s waiting<. (Hope it would do :sweat: )

Stefan


#12

Creo que el derecho a la comunicación es transversal a muchas disciiplinas, Kris, pero como sugieres se hace difícil debatirlo en cultura. Sugiero un debate específico sobre cómo regular el derecho a la comunicación/información de la ciudadanía en Europa.


#13

ever since i deleted my fb account in 2012 i had sporadic dayddreaming of something like this… now you articulated it clearly.!!. thank you so much…my question: would decentrslised social platform Diaspora be a suitable model ?


#14

Hey! Thanks for your props. I outlined the specs for this in more detail in the 1st draft of the “Technological Sovereignty” Paper on page 5 ff. - Don’t know if Diaspora fits the criteria … Nevertheless the crucial point will be to reach a critical mass to implement new de-facto-standards.


#15

I read the whole text, exciting and inspirational … and it goes beyond how Diaspora is made

Social network beyond Servers !

( society beyond servants )

too boot the EU.AI critical mass the just peyment for eu and beyond artists/contributors of the content would be essential in my opinon… …

horizont.eu


#16

I think that we need a social media owned by the people, by that I mean without servers and that is not done by a company, running over a network that does not leak metadata(very important!) to third parties. There are people who are trying to make such platforms see for example secushare which is based on a new form of network called GNUnet that can be overlayed on top of the Internet but also be run as an independet network.

The big problem with such projects is funding, because it goes against the system as no company is going to be able to make profit out of such a platform.

So I would back the of a social media platform that is genuinly democratic. But it has to be made clear that the technology necessary for such a thing is still in development and is strongly lacking funding and manpower.


#17

We will publish the 3rd Draft of the paper for Technological Sovereignty in a few days. You’ll find it here: https://diem25.org/progressive-agenda-for-europe/

There we outline the necessary steps for a democratic and secure social media platform …