We competed with Big Tech before it was cool. Now we’re launching a social network.

Shire Society Logo

With Forums, Chat, and Social Media, Shire Society Shields Users from Big Tech

More than a decade ago, Facebook was still growing into the social media behemoth they are today. If you were around back then, you remember when it was actually useful for reaching friends across the world and keeping-in-touch.

There was a time, for instance, when you could create an event on Facebook and click an “invite all” box to invite all your friends to the event. Super handy! Every friend received an invite in their inbox and could make the choice to attend or not. The previous activist method of organizing – forums – did not have this calendar event feature, and understandably the activists migrated to Facebook as it seemed more useful for making things happen.

Then Facebook removed the “invite all” option from their events almost a decade ago.

That was the first clue that things were not going in a good direction. At the time, you could still download a third-party browser plugin that brought the invite-all option back, but eventually Facebook changed their code so the plugin no longer worked. That was the end of easily being able to organize events on Facebook.

Anti-Facebook Neon Sign

You’re leaving now, right?

Later, Facebook made it so you had to pay them if you wanted all your followers to see your posts. In more recent years we’ve seen anti-state events being taken down entirely and in recent days blanket bans applied to people with certain political views.

With record numbers of people leaving megacorporate state-worshiping sites like Facebook and Twitter for less-big-but-still-centralized communications platforms like Signal and Telegram, it’s finally cool to get off “Big Tech”.

Naturally, your friendly freedom-loving activists here at Free Keene have been encouraging this for more than a decade. It started when we launched the Shire Forum over a decade back. Originally the Free Keene Forum, it transitioned to become the Shire Society Forums after the Shire Society was formed in 2010. As one of the forum’s founders, I never cared for Facebook’s groups and wanted to keep forums alive as they were independents, self-hosted and open source.

Eventually the Shire Society Forums expanded to include other things like cryptocurrency discussion and non-Shire NH activism and media threads, so it was renamed simply “Shire Forum“. For the last few years it’s been running some super-modern forum software called Discourse. If you are a liberty-minded person considering a move to New Hampshire or already living here and you haven’t been on forums in many years – or ever – give the Shire Forum a try.

LRN.FM Matrix Chat

Join at Matrix.LRN.FM

Keene-area liberty activists have also been on the Telegram platform for chatting for most of the last decade. It’s long been the top-of-class of all centralized chat platforms on the planet. Slick, easy-to-use and great for group chats. However, while the source code for their clients is open-source, it’s not decentralized and so several years back we evaluated the Matrix – a decentralized, federated chat server system – and put its main client, then called “Riot” through the paces. It was good, but not great, and not easy-to-use like Telegram was. After about a year of trying it out, most of us gave up.

However, in 2020 we launched our own Matrix server after the centrally-hosted Discord corporation unceremoniously booted the LRN.FM chat server from its centrally managed platform. We knew it was coming and I’d heard that Matrix had a new client out called “Element” and that it was way better than its original “Riot”, so we launched our own Matrix server at Matrix.LRN.FM. It has been great, and the increase in freedom is palpable. No corporate masters are holding an axe over our heads.

Matrix is open source, self-hosted, and federated, which means that all of the Matrix servers on the planet are by default connected together, so users from one Matrix server can reach the rest of the planet’s Matrix users on other servers. Unless, a server admin disfederates, or blocks another server for whatever reason. Matrix is way more decentralized than Big Tech monsters like Discord. Technically, Matrix is polycentric – with many centers. If you don’t like one Matrix server, you can join another, or start your own. Element is indeed way better than Riot. If you want to try freer chat, join the LRN.FM Matrix server where you can join existing rooms or create and moderate your own, private or public. All freedom lovers are welcome, not just NH people.

Mastodon

Join the “FTL Social” Mastodon

The decentralizing liberty activist communications story doesn’t end there, however. Just this week we also launched our own federated, self-hosted social media platform called “FTL Social“. It’s running the open source Mastodon software which is also federated and polycentric, like Matrix. It’s open to voluntarists, liberty-loving anarchists, and libertarians from around the world who are looking for a place where their posts won’t be subject to the whims of statist Big Tech admins and their snitch users. Please join at social.freetalklive.com and check it out. It’s a killer replacement for Twitter and works great.

Don’t forget one of the most important decentralized change we’ve seen in our lifetimes – cryptocurrency! If you want to contribute to these projects I’ve listed here, please use the cryptocurrency addresses you can see in the right column here at Free Keene. Longtime readers here already know that crypto is the killer decentralized solution for money and can’t be shut down by greedy, evil politicians.

Last, but not least is LBRY. It’s the decentralized blockchain-based media protocol that has been hosting Free Keene’s videos since 2018. They recently launched a cool new video site called Odysee that has seen a big jump in activity in the last week. LBRY is based in Manchester and run by liberty activists.

I hope this article gave you some ideas about better options to protect your communications from the tech giants who hate freedom. See you in the decentralized, open source, polycentric fediverse!

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6 Comments

  1. Wow, that’s great news. Why support facebook et al and help fund your own censorship etc. ?

  2. However, in 2020 we launched our own Matrix server after the centrally-hosted Discord corporation unceremoniously booted the LRN.FM chat server from its centrally managed platform. We knew it was coming and I’d heard that Matrix had a new client out called “Element” and that it was way better than its original “Riot”, so we launched our own Matrix server at Matrix.LRN.FM. It has been great, and the increase in freedom is palpable. No corporate masters are holding an axe over our heads.

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