It’s fair to say that I personally am one of the pioneers in the concept of an open social network. While there are many supposedly “open” platforms, most aren’t encouraging of giving users the right to freedom of speech. For instance, Mastodon, which is a decentralized, federated social network which is designed to be open, adds any instances with “hate speech”, “offensive content” or really just any instance that the maintainers of fediblock happen to dislike to a blocklist for all instances. If instances do not utlize fediblock, they are added to fediblock. Of course, fediblock is maintained by none other than an LGBT community, so we know that of course this blocklist couldn’t be biased in any way.
So, now that I’ve established what an open social network ISN’T, what is a truly open social network?
The concept of an open social network is very simple, in essence. It’s based upon the fact that everyone has a right to say what they desire to whomever is willing to listen.
What does that mean for offensive speech? Users can choose to ignore it by not interacting with the user, or even blocking them if they feel inclined. Nonetheless, hate speech is still free speech, people have a right to their thoughts even if they are bigoted.
This sort of hands-off approach to moderating a social network is actually rather effective and widely applicable. It allows communities within that social network to create their own guidelines. It also gives users control over the people and communities they interact with. After all, an open social network doesn’t mean everyone has to think in the same manner, such a policy would be stifling of creative free expression and freedom of thought.
It’s vitally important that we have a society which is diverse, full of different people of different backgrounds and lifestyles, with different preferences, moral standards, humor, politics, etc. Everyone shouldn’t be locked into an ideology or a mindset of what is considered universally acceptable.
I feel as if an open social network gives users the opportunity to voice unpopular opinions, beliefs, and concepts that may not be universally acceptable. This enables people to come together, to form rich communities with like-minded people, without having to worry if other users or the administration is supportive.
There are very slight limits to this freedom; of course it is my philosophy to keep it as open as possible. Still yet, harassing an individual is unacceptable, users who are being harassed may and frankly should choose to block the offending user. There’s no need for any sort of administrative intervention in such a situation. This similarly applies to the raiding of communities; one community should not be allowed to silence another. This does not mean that they cannot be critical or opposing of one another, it means that they need to ‘stay in their lane’ so to speak. When an opposing community invades another, that is an instance in which administrative action against said community should be taken.
There is of course illegal content, and the potential for orchestration of illegal activities to occur. In such cases, administration should take an action against the offending individual(s) or community(s), yet take no legal responsibility for such content or communications, and remain an outsider to any legal process regarding them.
This brings me to the importance of impartiality. I myself am a Republican, I have some rather resolute views and I strongly disagree with many people. Of course, in the administration of a truly open social network, I do and absolutely must put that aside, and ensure that everyone has the right to express themselves freely regardless of my opinion on their stance. All individuals responsible for administrating/moderating an open social network must be capable of putting their personal opinions aside when carrying out administrative actions. This is crucial as bias on the part of administration would undermine the entire concept of an open social network.
Another thing that ensures impartiality is the lack of any for-profit ventures within or related to the social network or organization controlling it. As we’ve seen in many prime examples such as Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and Instagram the interests of investors and advertisers are put before users and their communications. Money cannot be an influence for control of content, users, ideas, etc within an open social network.
These are the standards I’ve developed since the inception of CYGO Network in 2017, and I continue to apply them to the administration of our relatively new social network, Bleu, which is touted as a Reddit alternative. I hope to continue and build on this libre philosophy for our community and services provided here, as well as to be a guide for others who seek to establish an open and diverse online community.