Dangers of Centralization
If you follow me on Social Media you’ll probably notice me making occasional jabs at Centralized Platforms, but I don’t think a lot of people actually understand why I take issue with centralization, or why I feel you should to. In this post I’ll talk about Federation and self-hosting a lot. I’ll include links to alternative systems in my examples as I go.
Benefits of Centralization
Typically centralized platforms tend to have a large company behind them and can provide better stability and service reliability. They also usually have paid staff in place to handle user issues. This usually results in a more consistent branding, message, and roadmap, and gives the user a better feeling of quality.
Dangers of Centralization
I have been having a lot of trouble of where to even begin about this, so I’m just going to freehand it.
Recently due to Covid-19 there has been a lot of strain on our infrastructure and these centralized services. When these services go down there’s typically no fall back for people to use. This has been a major issue with Facebook, Zoom and Discord which are large communication platforms. Our gaming group waits for Discord outages to launch attacks on groups we know are using it because we self-host Mumble. Outages happen even and sometimes even more frequently on smaller platforms. This is why alternatives like Mastadon and Matrix are Federated instead of centralized. Everyone can self-host and choose to communicate with other people’s networks.
I listed Moderation as a partial benefit to Centralized Platforms earlier. Centralized Platforms tend to have a lot of Administrative Bias towards specific groups of people however and end up eventually silencing criticism or contrary opinions. We also have the example of moderation being handled by automated ticketing systems, where anyone with enough friends can just report something they didn’t like until it gets taken down or a user gets banned. We recently experienced all of this in Second Life. Not only were were victims of Administrative Bias, but our virtual land was reclaimed without reimbursement despite us meeting the demands of moderation. After this we were assigned the very administrators that came to take action against us and had to wait over a week for the issue to be reassigned to an uninvolved party. This set our group back 200+ dollars, and years of development time. All over a joke, while there are people doing legitimately illegal things.
Some examples for me specially.
- Twitter Suspends my account for telling a pedophile to castrate themselves. They gave me the option to delete the post without checking the context, this person was advocating for Pedophilia. This also happened to me on Reddit and I am still banned from r/linux_gaming over confronting an notorious online pedophile named Swiftpaw22.
- Linden Lab Suspends my Account due to Mass Reporting, or Whitney Linden Specifically despite me not violating to their TOS.
- Linden Lab Reclaims out virtual Land, initially assigns the Administrators involved in the reclaiming to our support ticket. now we’re down 220 Dollars and they deleted our group too.
Centralized Platforms and Alternatives
I honestly have so many issues with Facebook and the way their platform and service is structures and delivered, but it’s a necessary evil for me personally because of contacts, chasing business leads, ect. I’ll talk a lot further about why I absolutely do not like Facebook and I intend to do a video about social media.(Specifically Twitter and Facebook.)
Mastadon is a Federated Social Media platform. There are a lot of Mastadon Instances out there and some of them have cross posting, ect. This means that you can sign up with an instance that has the kind of content or moderation you prefer without having to be at the mercy of the broader network.
Mastadon is also a good Twitter Alternative.
I use GitHub daily, this site is hosted on GitHub Pages, I don’t have much bad to say about GitHub’s business model and I could always take all of my Repos and move them somewhere else, or host my own Git Repo on my own hardware. GitHub is the good kind of centralization, even if they are owned by Microsoft.
If you’re not satisfied with GitHub there’s always self-hosting or GitLab, ect. Git can be run totally locally as just a Version Control System too.
YouTube and LBRY
YouTube is a freaking nightmare.
I’d rather save this topic for later. I’m on LBRY as Hadet. I post there before i post on YouTube.
We need more viable alternatives to these platforms, people need to be educated that there are alternatives out there. I will continue to push Federated and Peer2Peer services in the future. I will probably do a video about this next week. Thanks for reading, I intended this to be a little more informative but I’ve just been so busy. I’ll try to update this later.