Social networks are inherently addictive to some extent. Facebook, Instagram, and the like play on this to make their networks as addictive as possible.

Ethical alternatives should not only reject doing that, they should also work to make the services *less* addictive.

Devaluing numbers of followers, likes, shares, etc. is one step in that direction.

I'm curious about other methods. Please give your ideas.

@josias If you want an ethical social network with mainstream appeal, you have to join the arms race to be able to compete.

I don't see any way around it, unless those addictive methods get banned, or commercial socal networks get banned outright.

@Coffee Mainstream appeal isn't as big of a deal when we're brainstorming ideas.

Plus, the Fediverse doesn't have so much "mainstream appeal" but it is doing all right. 🙂

@josias I think the Fediverse (in its "Mastodon" flavor) is good enough for mainstream usage. It might be just the network effect holding it back now.

And I can vouch from personal experience that Mastodon is plenty addictive.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that if you remove too many of those addictive qualities, you end up with something you'd no longer recognize as "social media", and return to the land of preexisting technologies.


@josias Want to share your writings? Photos? Put up a homepage.

Need to communicate? Use email.

Need voice chat? Call somebody up.

Over the internet? The SIP protocol exists, and interfaces with the regular phone network.

I think you get the point.


@Coffee @josias
I don't know much, but I think...
1. #Mastodon / #Fediverse is simple with no shady algorithm pushing someone's agenda in my timeline. (I hope.) Nothing decides for me what I should see.
2. Everyone should have a #website. Even just a simple single-page one, if they lack interest in publishing stuff.
3. All #email should be encrypted. No un-secure choice.
4. Phone numbers should be port-able across countries. 🤪 Yeah, I'm dreaming.

But that's just me. 🙃

Yeah, wouldn't that be nice.

We mostly agree. Mastodon isn't as aggressively manipulative and addictive as corporate social media. However, it's still modeled after Twitter, and it lets you curate and live inside your own bubble. I think the evidence is stacking up that Mastodon is actually bad, and it'll get much worse if the masses decide to move in.


@Coffee @josias
Yes, it lets me curate and have my own bubble. How is that bad? I choose to see what i want to see.

Isn't that what people think when they use #Facebook #YouTube and #Twitter? Of course, that is not the case. They're marionettes. They're in Neo's matrix. They think they're in control. They think they're exercising their choice.

And if we believe #Mastodon is bad and no better than the others, why are we even here?

Yeah, let the masses move in.

@josias chronological timeline is a huge anti-addictive pattern

@josias You want something that is addictive enough to be useful. People have to *want* to come and engage on your platform. However, you don't want it to be too addictive such that it is destructive to your users.

Not too hot, not too cold, the porridge needs to be just right.

@JeffPaetkau My opinion is that addiction should be avoided and worked against on all levels. People should come back for good reasons, not because they are hooked.

@josias ya sure. That is more or less what I was saying. However, the line between good, useful, enjoyable and harmful addiction is hopelessly blurry. The phrase, "I'm not addicted; I can stop anytime I want" is cliche for a reason.

Also, it won't always be context dependent. What count as "good reasons" for one person will be "because they are hooked" for another.

Finally, in the context of a social network some addictive design patterns might be required and helpful (to users & platform) to start getting traction but harmful (to users) once popular.

@josias not do specific unhelpful things that FB does:

- don't generate extra "notifications" about things the user probably doesn't care about just to trigger a reaction and suck them back in to the app

- don't reorder the timeline. Let users "finish" reading the day's new posts

- possibly enforce a time delay so that posts take a few mins to show up - this slows down conversations and allows life to happen...? Connect to separate IM for conversations?

(1 of 2)


Also, instead of having a "me" page, reframe it as "what you sound like to others"

Use language that respects your audience instead of stroking your ego

Don't allow just posting a link without an error popping up saying "what is this about, and why do your friends want to read this"

Instead of "what's on your mind?" or self centred prompts to broadcast, maybe prompt things like "here are some friends who have been unusually quiet, why not message them to check they're OK"

@rose_myrtle @josias Latecomer to the thread. One of the things I've been researching lately is a type of social media-like experience for #Anselus, e.g. a way to share photos with friends and family without a website.

I'm really looking to design something more thoughtful and empathetic than any of the standard fare from the corporations.

If you could design a new social media platform from scratch with a magic wand, what would it look like?

@JonYoder @josias I'm wondering if social media is even the right approach - i think i need to hack a pinephone into personal crm/PA to drive my interactions, so that communication is less blurting to the world and more intentionally connecting with people.

I don't know why we thought that the equivalent of every one shouting over the top of each other in a large room of people... was a good idea

@rose_myrtle @josias I think it has its place. The Hey e-mail service has the right idea with notifications only for people you flag -- silent by default. Tight control over who's in your feed and thread-oriented conversations could increase context and focus on one-to-one conversations. I'm just spitballing here, but I think it could work.

@josias Anything that feeds upon the weaknesses of others is, of course, predatory. And the large social networks know exactly what they're doing to hook users and keep them hooked until they have no more use for them, then they cut them loose. The best services - of all kinds - have their users' interest at heart, not their usefulness.


Ethical alternatives should not only reject doing that, they should also work to make the services less addictive.

Hmm…I don’t think that being addictive makes social media inherently bad, just like alcohol isn’t inherently bad. In fact I think if something is really good, people will actually flock to it compulsively.

It’ll be hard to tell if, when removing addictive features, platforms are worse, or just less addictive

That said, #Soapbox has a wonderful feature called the Demetricator that removes all stats-based number from the site, like follower counts, replies, etc.

I honestly think—and this is probably gonna be controversial—that the most addictive feature about social media is the entire system of notifications and a case can be made for its complete removal


Have you seen the artworks by Ben Grosser? He makes projects like the "Facebook Demetricator", which removes all the numbers from Facebook. Back when I had a FB account, I used this and found it completely changed my behaviour.

He's also a lively mind and a great speaker.

@ephemeral That is fascinating. I hadn't heard of it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

@josias Very welcome - thanks for having a wander back through my toots. I was just doing the same with yours - a nice connection!

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