Follow us OFF Facebook — workshop at the 2020 NGI Policy Summit

29 Sep 2020

Despite incessant outcry over social media giants’ disrespect of privacy and unaccountable influence on society, any public sector organisation wanting to reach citizens feels forced to be present on their enormous platforms. But through its presence, an organisation legitimises these platforms’ practices, treats them like public utilities, subjects its content to their opaque filters and ranking, and compels citizens to be on them too thus further strengthening their dominance.

In this workshop, we explore the alternative of decentralised social media, which lets an organisation keep full control by hosting its content on its own site, and lets users choose whichever providers and apps they prefer, because these can all interoperate via standardised web protocols like ActivityPub. How do we make governments aware of this possibility, their responsibility and example role? How could legislation help avoid having to choose between either reaching or respecting citizens and, for citizens, between either clicking ‘Accept’ to unnegotiable terms or being left out of democratic participation?