Building resilience and independence
I have a dream that over the course of the next few years, the climate movement will spearhead moving large portions of its organizing communications into the fediverse.
As activists who dream of realizing a more equitable and just world, we ought to focus at least some of our efforts on facilitating the exodus of our movement and its members from surveillance capitalist advertising platforms like X, Facebook, etc.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that climate organizers need to delete their accounts or fully boycot X (yet). Elon’s platform still provides a centralized space where climate activists can go to find each other. Removing ourselves from those spaces would be counter-productive because, quite frankly, the fediverse does not have the widespread adoption that is necessary to carry the movement.
Elon can absolutely shadowban your organization’s account for using specific hashtags, or for advertising climate strikes/rallies. He has enough control over the platform, and he has already shown that he is ready to use the platform to attack his political rivals.
As an example, let’s imagine a future date when our movement endeavors upon a large-scale and internationally-coordinated day of action (as we’ve already seen many times). Now, imagine that Elon wakes up one morning and decides that he wants to interfere with these events. It’s completely within the realm of possibility that X could shadowban or even suspend any account that posts with specific hashtags like #FridaysForFuture, #ClimateActionNow, or #SueBigOil.
If our movement is dependent on X for being able to communicate with each other, then we’ve essentially given one of our greatest enemies total control over our organizing capacity. So, while it’s important to keep accounts on X that will tweet updates about upcoming events and news, it’s also important for us to start driving a lot of our focus onto social media platforms that we ourselves own.
We need to develop parallel ecosystems of social media platforms we own (aka ActivityPub / fediverse / Mastodon instances) and social media platforms we need to be on (aka X, Facebook, etc). These ecosystems need to exist with maximum overlap and minimum overhead, with perhaps a majority of resources going towards developing momentum towards fediverse accounts.
Our movement needs to be resilient against the whims of the fascist billionaires who vehemently resent us. The best way to do that is to build our technology infrastructure on tools that are largely outside their sphere of influence.
A few tools we can use
Mastodon is the most popular platform for creating a community on the fediverse. Hosting your instance has become much easier over the past few years, and tools such as Buffer will allow you to manage multiple Mastodon accounts from the same place that you also manage your other social media accounts. Buffer allows you to schedule posts in advance and to integrate other tools such as Canva, Giphy, and Google Drive (among others).
If your organization runs a WordPress site, you can add the ActivityPub plugin and start broadcasting your blog posts onto the fediverse. Here’s a YouTube video with some more information on how it works.
If photo sharing (and video “shorts”) is a bigger part of your social media strategy, then Pixelfed might be an option for you to look into. The developers have added some really cool new features over the past year and I’m incredibly excited to see how this tool continues to mature.
GoToSocial is another intriguing option. The thing that makes it so interesting is that it’s very lightweight. It’s such a lightweight tool that you can run it on a raspberry pi, which is really good news for your budget if you’re hosting your platform on a cloud service like Digital Ocean, OVH, or AWS.
A few basic places to get started
- MastoHost is a place where you can purchase fully managed Mastodon hosting
- Namecheap is a place where you can purchase a domain name for your federated social site
- “An Audacious Plan to Halt the Internet’s Ensh*ttification - Cory Doctorow” - a recent and highly relevant speech given at DEF CON 31 about building a better internet