A Facebook Alternative

Facebook has proved itself invaluable and there is no denying that it facilitated more human connection and communication than most other social networking products. But if I had my way, this is how I think I would build an alternative.

This is a draft idea and will probably keep changing, but it is a thought I’ve been having in my head for a while and just have to get it out.

I miss the days when someone’s news feed was their blog.

Maybe that is what we need in this era where corporations control our content and the gatekeepers cannot differentiate between what is the right thing to do for the good of everyone and what is the right thing to do to benefit a small group of people with financial interests.

Facebook has proved itself invaluable and there is no denying that it facilitated more human connection and communication than most other social networking products.

But if I had my way, this is how I think I would build an alternative.

Simple content

3 different types of content to K.I.S.S. No one cares about your stupid polls, or stories, or pokes, or whatever else Facebook uses, to try to drive engagement so they can keep your eyeballs glued to their ads.

  1. Short form posts where it is snippets of thoughts and musings, or things you want to share that is better elaborated by visiting the source. Only a single piece of media is embedded or linked to.
  2. Long form articles for when you feel the inspiration to really expound on an idea or tell a story. This allows for the embedding of multiple pieces of media.
  3. Media for anything that is multi media related. It defaults to a single piece of media but is able to group multiple pieces together for easier viewing

Data Ownership

Nothing lives in any proprietary form. So no databases, just the actual content itself living on a file system somewhere. Plain text markdown formatted documents for posts and articles. Media as it is uploaded, or linked to a secondary storage source.


The beauty of the old world is how quaint everything is in comparison to the new.

Back when everyone had a blog, federation was done manually. I would follow you by keeping a link to your blog (optionally subscribing to your RSS feed) that I visit regularly.

When I wanted to reply to stuff that you wrote, I would either reference it on my own blog, or comment if you had comment support added. Sounds a lot like when Twitter first started and everything was nice…

In this proposed Facebook alternative, ActivityPub will help facilitate the “following” process and provide a means for discovery and connection between different participants.

Federation will also allow for providing context in content through the use of mentions. Pretty much what your aunt does when she sees content she thinks YOU WOULD TOTALLY LOVE TO KNOW ABOUT.

One nice benefit of this is that we can establish some form of relationship between participants which will allow access controls to be built over content.

The question I have yet to figure out is if this should be a news feed (need a better name) first or an ActivityPub implementaiton first.

Access Controls

The ability to restrict content access to certain groups of people is highly important, This is probably a hallmark of why Facebook is awesome. The ability to have control over privacy provides a safe space to really express ourselves.

Some ideas I have kicking around include encrypting content that has to be restricted, to some form of a group key. Thereby only allowing those who possess the private key, that’s part of the group key, to view content. So even when data is at rest, it is protected.

But yes, the gist of this is that there should be some way to restrict access to content however someone sees fit.

No Comments

People suck and aren’t nice so we should not allow anyone a voice. You can communicate by other channels, just not on your news feed.

Well, maybe we can do it in a way that, unless you already have a prior relationship, you are effectively silenced and a passive observer, like how society should be. A place without butt-in-skis.


I cannot imagine everyone having the ability to set something like this up. There is some technical know how needed to configure and use something that has not have millions of dollars spent to productise it. In fact there are investments in order resources likely to get this working correctly.

Leaning on my experiences in the old world, what I learnt helped the most was having a person with the technical knowledge set up the tough bits and open it up to their closest friends and family to build that community.

It increases the number of people using and interacting almost immediately.

Insofar, this is largely the reason why I am so enamoured with the ActivityPub concept. It basically allows for instances of a community to exist and to facilitate connection, federation happens so participants of federated communities become one large family.


That is it isn’t it. This is something that is totally organic and intent free and you do with it what you will. If you want the eyeballs, you can market the shit outta it and maybe become famous.

However, if you’re like me and you want this to be something personal, like your own personal space on the internet, then tending to it and making it amazing will be the most satisfying to you.

And along the way, as you do that, you will hopefully build the community of people that are interested in the things you do like in the old days, when things and people were nicer.

Or I might just be crazy and this is a totally bonkers idea.