SNAC - The only way to beat Facebook
The current social media situation is catastrophic. A single megacorporation controls the entire digital life of large parts of the world's population. Together with the rapidly improving methods for processing this data, a power that not only concerns experts is being bundled here. And Facebook's monopoly secures itself. On the one hand, users cannot leave Facebook(/ Instagram/WhatsApp) without being cut off from the social life of their friends. On the other hand, alternatives fail because they can't reach a critical mass. It seems impossible that a single application will ever replace Facebook. The freedom of the Internet is fundamentally threatened. Breaking the power of Facebook is probably one of the greatest challenges of our time. And in order to solve this task, we did come up with a detailed concept that we want to present to the public for the first time at 36c3.
SNAC - Social Network Application Cluster - is the name of the protocol used to standardise data exchange between different social media applications. Just as email protocols enable users to choose their provider freely, this protocol should also enable greater diversity in this area. It is easy to see that a single application isn't able to satisfy the needs of every single user. With SNAC we enable a decentralized structure, where each user can choose his server, but also his client application, from a broad spectrum. By developing our pilot application Open Source, we make it easy for other developers to integrate their own applications into the network.
But the decentralized Open Source dream alone is not enough to revolutionize the social media world. In order for the new applications emerging in SNAC to be able to run, an appropriate economic environment is needed to cover the operating costs. If the user accesses many different servers while surfing through the decentralized network, the question arises who is responsible for the access costs caused. There is a lack of a corresponding micropayment service with which it is possible to pay very small amounts easy and securely. At first glance, this seems like a project of its own, but it is closely linked to the operation of a decentralised social network. And there are several advantages emerging by linking social networks with a micropayment system. For example, users can donate a few cents to the creators of content they value, which then adds up to a fair reward for the creators. And this is done directly, independently and without forced ads for the users. But the mental alarm bell of data security rightly rings here when one tries to link financial and private communication data. Therefore, it is all the more important to hand over data sovereignty to the user when planning the protocols and to leave the server operators only the task for which they are fairly paid - the operation of the servers.
We are currently putting this concept into protocols that enable secure transactions and protect the user's data. The aim is to create an environment where everyone has the chance to honestly and transparently pay the costs they incur instead of filling the pockets of corporations with their data.
Our project is quite daring, that is clear to us. And yet we are sure that this is exactly what we want to do in the coming years. Because there is a chance that we will find 15 crazy people who want to develop this utopia together with us. There's a chance we'll find 50,000 people supporting us with an average of 1€ a month to feed our 15 crazy developers. There's a chance that we can create an environment where many small subnets with cool innovative applications can trigger a movement that's going to be so big it will overcome Facebook's monopoly. And above all, we can create an environment where technology benefits people again, rather than the other way around.
If 36c3 isn't the right place for a project like this, what else is? We will give a talk in which we will discuss a better world and the difficulties that lie on the path there. We want to encourage listeners to think and participate, but above all we are also there to initiate a discussion. We want to hear all the concerns and mistakes that we overlook and we need the expertise from all the different angles that only the CCC brings together.