Escaping ruling class and corporate domination is one of the reasons some people choose to migrate to the Fediverse. Even some of the other reasons, like ads, engagement obsession, political censorship, content sorting algorithms, can all be traced back to corporate control.
While corporations don’t have much control of the Fediverse today, could they in the future?
One might think that Fediverse is designed to make this impossible. In my opinion, it is only designed to somewhat resist this, but it is still vulnerable to ruling class takeover. The ruling class doesn’t need that now, as they already control all major social networks, and Fediverse remains a niche. But shall that change, they might be out to try to control it. Can they succeed?
I’ll admit and say I am very far from an expert, so I hope someone will correct me if I make any mistakes due to misunderstanding the Fediverse.
Instead of centralizing a social network in a single instance controlled by a single entity, the Fediverse can be federated into multiple instances. However, to host an instance, requires some investment, and although it can be small for some services, it is a barrier that many people choose not to cross.
Hence, as we have already seen, instances are controlled by either organizations or groups who pooled funds for their instance, or individuals who incurred the initial investment themselves. Not bad, so far. However, this does present an issue. If the Fediverse were to grow more instances, people who have money are more capable of starting new instances. It also favors people who don’t live in countries where salaries and cost of living are lower, which would make renting VPS even more expensive to them. This gap is closed as the software gets better and more lightweight, but as it stands, this is how it works.
The other problem is that many Fediverse networks are already sort of centralized, in the sense that there is one (sometimes a handful) of instances that are biggest. This means If someone were to take over just those, they may already have enough control. This is less of a problem for platforms that matured more and have more instances.
If someone like Elon Musk were to go after the biggest instances and either offer money to buy them (which is very likely to work) or somehow pursue censoring the instances that don’t, although that is not as easy as buying a single company (ignoring the cost difference), it is still quite easy. We haven’t seen it because they haven’t sought it yet, but I fear that the Fediverse is not as resistant to this as it should.
A community dedicated to fediverse news and discussion.
Fediverse is a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe”. It is a common, informal name for a federation of social network servers whose main purpose is microblogging, the sharing of short, public messages.
Getting started on Fediverse;