Dear friends, acquaintances, readers
During times of Corona, centralised internet services are already under an immense pressure. 3 easy steps to be prepared to contact each other without being dependent on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, and Google.
1. Switch to federated social networks.
Make the switch: The monopolistic capitalist social media companies we’re all so used to could collapse and be offline any minute. There are about a thousand different reasons why we shouldn’t use them already (e.g. mass surveillance, psychological manipulation, the horrifying detail of our lives they can tell) anyway.
Now admittedly, a few years ago, there simply wasn’t anything else than those cool platforms. In 2020, that looks differently: There is a highly developed federated Instagram alternative (PixelFed), or a microblogging service which is arguably more advanced and more fun than Twitter and already has a userbase of > 4 M people (Mastodon). The cool thing: You don’t need to register on one particular server, but can pick whichever you like best. And then you can still interact with the entire universe of accounts!
Practically speaking? Pick an instance, post your username on your current social networks, show this post to your friends and tell them to do the same!
🕺 me on Mastodon: firstname.lastname@example.org
📸 me on PixelFed: email@example.com
2. Make sure your messages and video calls are encrypted.
Be safe from eager government officials and companies scrolling through your private messaging history and your metadata. Don’t (ever) use Telegram or WhatsApp. Use Threema and Signal only if you must – their servers too could be failing anytime, and you won’t be able to reach anyone. Be prepared for the crisis and the failure of those systems through using XMPP or Matrix (both federated). If you really value your privacy, use Tox, RetroShare, Briar (decentralised). Those services will keep you safe, even in times of crisis, and don’t rely on central servers.
The same principle as earlier counts: Pick a XMPP and/or Matrix instance, or create a Tox/RetroShare/Briar account, tell it to your friends and tell them to do the same! Only if you have the contact data of others, you’ll be able to get in touch when the other systems crack down!
And then there’s videoconferencing. If you don’t plan on having several dozens of participants, you’re likely to have a smoother and safer experience by using one of many Jitsi Meet instances. It works without any registration, is absolutely free, open source, and with encrypted transmission. And the same goes as for XMPP and Matrix: There isn’t just one server, there are hundreds. You can look out for one instance specifically or just pick one randomly.
📬 me on Matrix: @thilobuchholz:nltrix.net
📯 me on XMPP: firstname.lastname@example.org
🔐 me on Tox: 49E12E646FF3EF783B2096A9A9D7713722C8A067945E529907BAC901B89529183F6D4DEFFBBB
3. Show solidarity in the way you’re using the internet.
If you’re in a place with limited bandwith, don’t use it all up and reflect on the services you use. Don’t limit yourself to an extent where it becomes mentally painful or hurtful, but try to maximise the efficiency of your data usage.
Maybe your neighbours soon won’t be able to afford internet access anymore. If you have the financial means, setting up a router with freifunk can save their subsistence and ensure connectivity for everyone. Digital access has become a basic necessity in order to socially connect and stay informed about current developments and news.
Linklist to read up on all of this:
Now without a techie-background it might be hard to understand all of this. That’s okay. It was hard for me in the beginning too. There are a lot of people who are so much better at explaining this than me, and here’s where you can find more information:
Even more lists:
🇩🇪 Weitere Ressourcen auf Deutsch:
- Digitalcourage: Blog-Eintrag zu Messengern
- freie-messenger.de (zu XMPP und Matrix)
- Eine Matrix-Serverliste
🇳🇱 Meer lezen op Nederlands:
Helaas bestaat op dit moment bijna geen nederlandstalige informatie over gedecentraliseerde applicatie’s. Als je iets vindt, laat het me weten!
One thought on “Decentralise yourselves!: Your digital sovereignty during the corona crisis and beyond.”
I had previously published a blog post in 2020 touching briefly upon this thematic (thilobuchholz.de/2020/03/decent…) but I don’t think it addressed it properly. And it’s so weird! It feels like a collective paramount state of cognitive dissonance of my entire social environment.
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