Is there a privacy-first user-friendly social network?
May 16, 2020 6:04 AM   Subscribe would have checked all the boxes except privacy. Mastodon, Diaspora won't do. Looking for something with very little onboarding friction and having functional web and mobile apps with a clean and intuitive UI that shows just the updates from friends in a chronological feed and nothing else (i.e. no trending articles!).
posted by amar to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not really. All those things cost money and the vast majority of people have shown that they won't pay money for social networking. How many people are you trying to connect and are they all on-board with paying for privacy?
posted by Candleman at 6:14 AM on May 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

You've described exactly what I use Keybase for. Can't say how long it's going to stay clean and intuitive now that Zoom has bought it, but for the time being it works very well.
posted by flabdablet at 6:32 AM on May 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

What do you specifically mean by “privacy first?”
posted by mhoye at 7:46 AM on May 16, 2020

What's wrong with Mastodon and Diaspora? Both are federated so you could in theory run your own instance just for your friends and family.

I will also recommend Telegram. Its group chats aren't e2e encrypted but you can do individual chats with e2e.
posted by deathpanels at 7:48 AM on May 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

@Candleman I am planning to connect with around 40-50 people. I think at least 20-25 will be onboard for privacy easily. If there's a self hosted option I can do that. I agree people usually don't pay for a social network.

@flabdablet My Keybase a/c finally reset today after they sent me email everyday that I should cancel the reset. I have just kept the username. I did that when the sale was announced.

@mhoye I didn't mean to state that in the sense of "mobile first". I mean a social network where privacy is the first concern.

@deathpanels Mastdon is basically decentralised and FOSS Twitter. My use-case is more of an open, personal, and private Facebook. Diaspora is not very intuitive and their mobile apps leave a lot to be desired. Telegram is more or less WhatsApp and Signal. Not something I am looking for.
posted by amar at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2020

I’m confused about the requirement for both open and private.

WhatsApp is something most of the world uses for limited-distribution text-based updates such as family group conversations. For slightly techier groups here in the US, friends-only Slack has been a great alternative. Both are chat-style interfaces.
posted by migurski at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Install the Drupal 8 Open Social Distro on a $10/month hosting plan and invite your friends?
posted by COD at 9:46 AM on May 16, 2020

Maybe MeWe? Privacy is definitely their first concern, and I find it pretty intuitive.
posted by velvet winter at 10:29 AM on May 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

@migurski My bad. Open as in "open platform" → either open source or I am allowed to export my data in an useable format e.g. xml, json etc. Private you know - the app/service not selling my data, not pushing content on me etc. Can't update the post or my comment without requesting MeFi support/staff. No, not WhatsApp.

@velvet winter: Yes, I created a MeWe a/c sometimes back and have asked two of my techie friends to try it yesterday. Slightly concerned as their platform isn't open source but so is entire Apple ecosystem. I was hoping to find other options.
posted by amar at 5:05 PM on May 16, 2020

My Keybase a/c finally reset today after they sent me email everyday that I should cancel the reset. I have just kept the username. I did that when the sale was announced.

Not clear why you'd do that. Is it because Keybase was what you were using for this but no longer want to since the Zoom acquisition, or did you lose access to all your Keybase-connected devices, or something else?

In any case, resetting your account makes it impossible to export your data, since a reset destroys all the encryption keys. I'm guessing that this would be the main motivation behind Keybase trying to discourage you from doing that.

Personally I have a Keybase "paper device" saved in the same KeePass database file as all my other confidential data, just in case all my Keybase-connected devices vanish in clouds of greasy black smoke at the same time; that means I'll never need to reset the account. I plan to stick with Keybase unless and until Zoom manages to screw it up. I don't see the acquisition as any kind of privacy threat, since Keybase has never had the ability to decrypt anything I've stored on their servers other than the contents of my public folders anyway. That's pretty much the entire point of client-side encryption with client-only private-key storage, and provided the Keybase client software remains open source, I can remain reasonably confident that that really is what Keybase offers.

If Zoom does screw it up, that strikes me as the kind of event that might well prompt a fork to appear with some kind of federated server model behind it. Keybase has done a really good job with its client software and I can't see the entire user base letting that go completely to waste.
posted by flabdablet at 7:32 AM on May 17, 2020 [1 favorite]


I wasn't using Keybase for pretty much anything (even though my PGP keys, Github, website etc were setup). The desire to explore some private SNS and evaluate them with some friends is quite recent. I had deleted my Facebook years ago and till a week back (or let's just say before this lockdown) I never felt the need of any social network really.

But to answer your question - yes I reset the account for that reason and I'd have done it even if I was using it. Keybase would not have served my use-case. There is simply no way I'd have gotten most of my friends to setup Keybase. I need something like what Signal is as a WhatsApp replacement, not even Riot/Matrix, or what Mastodon is to Twitter. I needed something like Path (as I've said above) but an open platform and preferably paid. I have been trying MeWe since yesterday and it's really not smooth to use besides it's a closed platform.

Nice that you mentioned it. I use KeepPass as well (MacPass) for savings passwords of passwords (or subtle hints for some that I don't even want in KeePass) and rest of the them are in BitWarden.
posted by amar at 8:35 AM on May 17, 2020

There is simply no way I'd have gotten most of my friends to setup Keybase.

I only adopted it a few months back, basically to create a single place for updates on how I was doing as bushfires circled our mostly-evacuated little town, and so far I've had no trouble convincing non-technical friends that if they want to get in touch with me, that's the best way to do it. And all it takes to use it in a social networky kind of way is for people interested in doing that to create a team to do it in, then start accepting team members; or for stuff where potentially rapid leakage to unanticipated places is not an issue, create an open team that auto-accepts members on request.

Personally I've found doing both of those things with Keybase far more straightforward than wrestling with Fartbook or Twatter's privacy settings, and it really is working well for the kind of semi-regular broadcasts that would be horribly irritating if they went out as email blasts, but I've always been more of a group chatter than a personal brand creator and of course everybody's mileage is going to vary.

Will be watching this thread with interest to see if you do find something that suits you.
posted by flabdablet at 9:30 AM on May 17, 2020

I believe decentralised networks are the way to go. Federated. But not Scuttlebutt either. That'd be too esoteric for most users. I am going to see if there's something good built over ActivityPub. There's an awesome Instagram alternative PixelFed built on ActivityPub.
posted by amar at 10:35 AM on May 17, 2020

« Older Purely theoretical, is LIDAR considered night...   |   Anon Poop Q Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments