Professional Knowledge #followerpower
A lot has changed since social media and messengers started long ago. At that time, when everyone still believed in the good of every Internet participant, many got into the big platforms. Because these business models were not yet familiar, data donations were ignored and everyone had fun connecting with other people, micro-blogging and the messengers available at the time.
It is now 2021 and the business models of the providers, the IT landscape, the Internet and the users have changed dramatically. The users believe that everything has to be free for them and the providers invest many millions in servers and line infrastructure for fun and for the benefit and personal enrichment of the users. The users ignore the fact that thousands of servers and wages also have to be paid. With this view you can see that the big providers have fully achieved their goal of destroying paid providers and furthermore also fully achieved their goal of tracking the users through the Internet without them complaining. At the same time, users were brainwashed into “I don’t care about huge data collections and mass surveillance - I have nothing to hide”.
When you see the deficits in IT training - and yes, an APP is a program and thus IT - prevail in Europe, it becomes clear that we should give our children a basic education very early on, through well-trained IT teachers. This does not mean a click or wipe course, but real basic knowledge without focusing on products, manufacturers or lobbyists in order to give users the knowledge for a safe and intelligent use of future digitization.
Just yesterday a lady told me about the green passport. She is the “SmartPhone Generation” and she installs every app. After a 2-minute explanation, she was very unsure whether this was the right way and one can only hope that from now on she will deal more deeply with the background.
In any case, we have to change from a “SmartPhone generation” to a “Digital generation with good basic IT knowledge” in order to meet the digital challenges of the future. Only with this knowledge can the Internet be used intelligently and securely, without mass surveillance, data donations and data collections.
In Austria in particular, the type of communication at the highest level caused severe astonishment among every specialist during the most recent discoveries and it became very clear that even at this level there is a lack of massive basic knowledge, or deliberately any security measures based on the lemming principle - others do that even so - be ignored.
Free open source software has many advantages. Through the collaboration of people via the Internet, existing software errors in these publicly accessible source codes are normally discovered quickly and corrected as quickly as possible. If you wish, you can also bring in your own wishes and patches (pull requests). In addition, you are completely free to fork the project and adapt it by your own programmer should a problem arise. Organizations and companies should also make donations to the projects, because every company uses open source software, often without knowing it or noticing it.
Innovative server operators and IT administrators have been relying on it since the 90s, but especially in the last 10 years there has been an additional change in the type of software used. ** FOSS Free Open Source Software ** (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source) has now completely changed the software market.
Before you think that all FOSS users are nerds, let me tell you that almost all servers on the Internet work with FOSS, from the Linux or FreeBSD operating system to the Apache and NGINX web servers with the programming languages PHP, Ruby, Python, Perl, GO and many more, up to the MySQL and Postgres databases. Proprietary software is rarely used on the Internet and there is also dramatic growth in Linux in the workplace and notebook area. Without going too far, it is quite clear that, especially since license costs are the last real possibility of savings in the IT sector, FOSS, Linux and Co. will replace more and more proprietary software, especially ones only serving one platform.
You too probably have more devices that are operated with FOSS than with proprietary software. Your Internet router, your NAS at home, your TV or radio, your heating control, your mobile phone, your tablet, controls for air conditioning and home automation and much more. Everything mostly operated with Linux and open source software and often only supplemented or forked by one or two programs.
Today’s post deals with the Fediverse (social network) and Matrix (messenger).
Fediverse and Matrix
When the Internet was discovered by the broader masses in the late 90s, spam, fraud, mass surveillance and data collection were just a side issue that changed brutally with the launch of social media and messenger services. Individual companies can completely monitor and evaluate the users of their platform, sell this data to third parties and much more.
Slowly the group of those who no longer wanted that and were looking for something new grew. The decentralization of the systems was important in order to make it impossible for individuals to monitor all users. All of you who read prefer to use the currently largest decentralized system - e-mail - to communicate with others. Email is the pioneer of decentralization. Everyone can operate their own mail server, there are also public free mail providers and there should also be people who save their e-mails unencrypted in the cloud. And every user can communicate with every user on all other servers. The delivery address results from the e-mail address which is structured in the form of username @ servername.
E-mail is now so “igit, 2010! Really old” and since most people do not encrypt their e-mails with PGP, e-mails can be seen as postcards on the Internet, which are then saved also as postcards, including the attached document, on the respective mail server. when accessing the hardware or the system, they are freely readable and evaluable. It is completely incomprehensible to me that lawyers, doctors and many other sensitive areas send data via e-mail. Whereby nobody should actually send unencrypted emails. Only correctly encrypted e-mails are also encrypted on the e-mail server and cannot be read on the server by the admin or others.
A similar problem exists with providers of central solutions, where all user data is on a provider’s server and no one knows what is happening with this data. This applies to social media, micro blogging and messenger alike. We regularly read security blogs, knowing what amounts of data and hacks are added every day with publication. And it is not enough that the program or the app is open source and testable, but the server code must also be testable in order to be really secure.
Knowing about this problem, intelligent open source programmers looked for a solution and found it in the decentralization of social networks and messengers.
Generally there are 2 lines that are followed
- The Fediverse, a decentralized world of social media
- The Matrix, a protocol for secure, decentralized end-to-end encrypted messenger communication, without a backdoor for authorities and other readers
There is an easy to understand video that explains the Fediverse with graphics:
In Fediverse there are thousands of Mastodon (micro blogging), Peertube (video), Friendica (social media) and other instances, such as mail servers, operated by people, organizations and companies. All communicate with each other via the ActivityPub protocol and users of each service can follow users of other services. That means it doesn’t matter where you have your account, you can follow every user in Fedivers, on any of the platforms, and put together your personal, algorithm-free, chronological newsfeed. Nobody filters or lines up posts in such a way that it has the best advertising success for the operator! Your news feed as it should be!
There are free public servers for private users. However, the goal should be to operate its own, decentralized entities, especially as an organization or company. Be sure to watch the video, the graphics are self-explanatory.
A very active programmer in Fedivers, the creator of Pixelfed, a decentralized Instagram alternative in Fediverse, has created a server and user overview for Fediverse:
Here you can see that there are already 10,000’s server instances with up to 550,000 users on one server. Many more details can be found at:
Mastodon, the Twitter alternative in Fediverse, is currently the most popular. Peertube and Pixelfeed certainly have the greatest growth at the moment.
An overview of the Fediverse software projects can be found here:
Many new projects arise and, as is usual with open source, solutions can be found for every requirement.
Matrix (https://matrix.org) is an open communication protocol for secure, decentralized communication. Here, too, everyone can operate their own instance and only the servers of the communication partners involved are involved in the communication. A central mass surveillance is already excluded because of this.
Synapse is the project’s reference server, but other server software also exists. Most of them use Element Messenger (https://element.io) as a client, which has huge advantages over large providers.
- available for Windows, Mac, Linux, IOS, Android
- Multi-device capable, i.e. all devices can work at the same time and are synchronous
- E2E encrypted 1:1 and group chats
- encrypted (video) telephony 1:1
- encrypted video conferences via Jitsi widget
Compared to large providers with a central infrastructure, since no uploading of contacts is necessary able to operate GDPR-compliant. Furthermore, no telephone number is necessary and thus more privacy is given compared to central providers who want to identify the user. For people at increased risk, traffic can be anonymized via Tor so that anonymous chat is possible.
Very large companies are already switching to Element Matrix Messenger on a large scale. Governments (F) and the military (DE) are also innovatively jumping on the fast-paced train and securing themselves not to receive any of the high GDPR penalties for data protection violations by uploading contacts. You should never forget that, especially when used for business, every contact that has been uploaded can trigger a penalty according to the GDPR. In addition, you cannot fulfill the right to deletion! And no, not everyone has WhatsApp, for example, I or we here have always refused to do so.
The incident surrounding the EX President of the USA showed every clear-thinking person the main problem of using central providers to the full, and the algorithm of distribution among the followers is not even taken into account.
Nobody, really nobody, is safe from an account lock and the terms and conditions of the platform allows them to take down your virtual life in a second. Even worse if you have logged in to other platforms with this account using social login. Because then the main account is blocked and you are also out on the other platforms.
Such a lock can hit like a junk load and destroy virtual life with all its investments!
The problem of content producers and communication participants
1) If the central provider blocks your account, your entire work to build up followers is destroyed by the provider with one click. You are just not there anymore and there is nothing you can do about it. Normally you don’t even have a contact person, sometimes posts and messages stay on the server without you having access.
In the most unpleasant case, you will be sued for a post for which you are fully responsible and you will not have access to the account and thus to the deletion required by the court. Mr. Trump was an example of the fact that multiple providers can click at the same time and you are on ZERO followers and ZERO communication partners in a second!
This is not noticeable to others by the algorithm of the platform, because it then shows your followers contributions from others and you will be forgotten by the followers. There are few that are so popular that the followers overrule the algorithm and look for you.
2) Most of them are not aware of the second problem, the algorithm of the platforms, due to a lack of IT and mathematics knowledge, and the large platforms also try everything to keep the users in the dark.
The platform’s algorithm controls who sees your posting or your advertising. Even if you have a large number of followers, you never know who is seeing the post and it is possible that nobody sees the post, maybe some a few days afterwards, or even several immediately.
Just imagine that many of these “SmartPhone Generation” click “Like” or follow thousands of people. This would mean that the user would have thousands of postings in the feed every day and could possibly be overwhelmed by advertising of the platform.
Since the platforms have targeted advertising and data trading as their business model, the algorithm filters posts in the way the platform believes you are best reflecting on their advertising. Because that’s how they do their business! If you ignore the advertising, data will be collected and then traded, or your profile will be adapted so that you may react to the advertising.
3) There are more problems in detail, but that would make this article too long.
Fediverse and Matrix - The solution for everyone!
Yes it is not exaggerating, with Fediverse and Matrix, as with the outdated e-mail, there is a solution to all of the above problems. With free open source software, without any license costs, for private use also via public servers, innovative solutions that have been tried and tested with millions of users are available with many advantages.
1) Nobody can block your account on your own instance (server). That is also the reason why z: b. The EX-President of the USA is now relying on his own instance, which will go online in a few months, and will no longer need Twitter and Facebook afterwards. From the start of the instance no one can block him or disconnect him from his followers.
Many other politicians, parties, organizations and companies still lack the knowledge here, or they are often surrounded by even poorly trained SEO and marketing consultants. These continue to rely exclusively on paying for the platforms and search services. However, because the account can be blocked, the result is without sustainable follower development. As soon as this knowledge becomes available, there will be a big run on its own instances.
In addition, analytics tools are used, which can be equated with a revision of the accounting by the accountant who created it. There is likely to be a knowledge gap among CEOs and CIOs here, because the verification of the results generated by the contractor must of course never be done by the contractor himself. We recommend checking the results with Matomo and completely dispensing with third-party analytics tools.
But even if the instance is operated together with friends or cooperation partners, nobody will block the account. A kind of move from instance to instance is also possible in the Fediverse. Private individuals with IT knowledge, organizations (NGOs, politicians, associations) and also companies are well placed to operate an entity in the Fediverse.
The follower structure in Fediverse is sustainable and there are no central platform operators or algorithms between the content producer and the follower.
The conversion of communication to Matrix, ideally in combination with Jitsi for video conferences, brings security, privacy and an extremely large number of additional options.
With Matrix you show innovation and technical lead in communication and you can already communicate with millions of people.
Another advantage of Matrix is that you can log off users or individual devices from the Matrix server. This means that if there is no longer any access to a cell phone, this cell phone can be logged off on the matrix server. As a result, there is no longer any possibility to access the chats on the mobile phone, even if the pin has been cracked! Element is available only with logging in and the local data on the mobile phone cannot be read due to the high-quality encryption or has already been deleted by the logout. However, the user himself can continue to work with all other devices and has not lost a single communication. Bring a new mobile phone online as another device and you are immediately back in sync with e.g. a PC or tablet. Once you’ve recognized this advantage, you don’t want any other messenger!
2) No algorithm! Followers you build up in Fedivers receive your posts in chronological order and without any filter. Here a follower is really a follower who also gets the post! Forget algorithms that make other money! Invest time in building real followers, only that is sustainable and you will reach people who are really interested in your posts. If you cover several topics with different interested parties, simply create different accounts so that the followers can follow selectively!
3) No intrusive and unwanted advertising! Spam and other unsolicited advertisements are no longer well received by Internet users, and clicking “Stop following” or “Don’t show again” is quicker than you think. The benefit of the Fediverse is that there is no paid advertising and it doesn’t annoy users with it. On the other hand, that followers really see your posts chronologically and without a filter and if you build up a corresponding number of followers, you really reach the target group without annoying someone with unwanted advertising. Since only subscribers sees your posts in the newsfeed, you do not disturb any other users of the Fediverse with your posts. A win-win situation. Now it’s time to build a sustainable follower base for which you don’t have to pay anything! Chronologically, without filter, free of charge! Sustainable follower base in the Fediverse.
4) The messenger communication with Element Matrix really cannot be read and nobody can transmit any communications to authorities or other inquirers. With your own servers, it cannot even be determined that server A is communicating with server B, since with the right setup everything runs over the https port and looks like visiting a website. With Dendrite, there is now a second server software in addition to Synapse, which can also be easily operated by private individuals on a very small scale. Nevertheless, every user of this home server can communicate with users of all other servers without any central control. According to the current status also fully GDPR compliant, without the risk of high penalties, as are possible when using other messengers!
5) And most importantly, every user in Fediverse can connect, follow and exchange direct messages with every other, regardless of the server. Of course, this also applies to Matrix Messenger communication. Every user in the matrix can communicate with everyone else, regardless of the server.
Try it now
- Mastodon account on public instance: https://joinmastodon.org/communities
- Mastodon Server Software https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon
- Peertube account on public instance: https://joinpeertube.org/
- Peertube Server Software: https://github.com/Chocobozzz/PeerTube
- Friendica account on public instance: https://friendi.ca/
- Friendica Server Software: https://friendi.ca/resources/installation/
- Overview of the size of the Fediverse https://fedidb.org/network
- Details on software projects https://fediverse.party/
- Element Matrix Messenger on public instance: https://element.io/
- Matrix protocol: https://matrix.org
- Matrix Synapse Server Software: https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse
- Matrix Dendrite Server Software: https://github.com/matrix-org/dendrite
The CTS IT Solutions offer commercial customers perfect and well-tested IT solutions! We would be happy to advise you on all questions relating to IT!
We are happy to discuss all topics within the framework of our project in the matrix!
We look forward to active participation in the EURAFRI project and ask you to also visit the EURAFRI reception in the matrix.
Your EURAFRI TEAM
Author: Karl M. Joch Permission to publish the article on EURAFRI.com @20210522