10friends is a project designed to give you and your friends the tools you need to run your own free, decentralized social media platforms. We hope to encourage the growth and popularity of a decentralized Fediverse by fostering the creation of many small instances built by, and for, groups of friends. And through promoting better alternatives to centralized services, we hope to defend against arbitrary censorship of speech and expression online by empowering you and your friends to create your own spaces managed by your own rules.
We're here because we know there's something wrong with the modern Internet. Some of us are old enough to remember how open and free things used to be online, while others have only heard stories, but on some level we all understand that the restrictions imposed on us by modern-day platforms are as arbitrary as they are unnecessary.
We're here because we're not happy being herded into walled gardens controlled by a small handful of giant companies. They dictate the terms of how we're allowed to talk and play online, and at the slightest hint of pressure from the general public, they can cast us out without even a chance for appeal. As our ability to work and make money moves online too, we find those same walled gardens can even limit our ability to freely do business with each other.
We're here because we've seen or experienced voices being stifled, communities being uprooted, and businesses being sunk, and we're no longer happy to just let it happen.
We're here because we want things to change.
The goal of 10friends isn't to create "the next Twitter" or a "Facebook-killer". Replacing the titans of the modern internet isn't only difficult, it's also counter-productive. If the problem is caused by giant monolithic services, then the solution can't be another giant monolithic service.
10friends' goal is to give you the tools to build smaller, more personal spaces for you and your friends online. These spaces can supplement and coexist with your mainstream social media accounts, and are well suited as backup channels and fallbacks in the event of bans or account deletions on the larger platforms.
Why have your sports team, gaming circle, or fan club depend on some giant corporate monolith with vague Terms of Service when you can create your own space online, managed by your own rules?
Creating your own spaces for friends doesn't mean you have to be isolated from the rest of the world. The tools we want to introduce here are designed to be able to connect with other servers (or "instances") running the same software via a protocol called ActivityPub. This is called "federation", or sometimes "the Fediverse". For example, if you installed PeerTube to host your videos, your instance could communicate with all the other PeerTube instances on the internet. You could watch videos from them, or even comment on them, all from one account. The same interoperability exists in Pleroma, Funkwhale, and many other federated tools.
Lots of instances already exist for each, so as all of them connect to each other, they can form a large and decentralized network that spans the globe. We can enjoy the benefits of a large network, while still keeping our own spaces run by our own rules.
Those of us who remember the Internet as it once was can fully understand how different it's become. In its earliest days, it had no rules to follow or templates to refer to. Those who pioneered it relied on creativity and cooperation, and there were almost as many websites as there were users to visit them. Artists made galleries, writers built libraries, and gaming clans fashioned their own arenas and common rooms. Each one unique and customized to the liking of its inhabitants and, most importantly, owned by its makers.
But once the frontier was settled, it began to be annexed by people who had neither hand in its creation nor respect for its customs. And after the collapse of the dot-com bubble taught its harsh lessons, these settlers turned to an abundant resource they could more easily monetize; human relationships.
Free services emerged from seemingly friendly start-ups, offering everything from e-mail to social media to cloud storage for personal files. Creating a YouTube channel or a Twitter account was far easier than setting up your own website, let alone maintaining it. And the illusion of ownership these free services created was so convincing, many failed to realize what they were giving up in exchange, to say nothing of the generation born into such a system.
As the reality begins to hit home for more and more of us, it's important to understand that all of this was created by conscious choice. The Internet of the past isn't some Golden Age lost to history, it was merely the result of a set of choices. And if we want to make things better, all we have to do is choose differently.
There are a wealth of free, open-source, and/or distributed alternatives to just about every major program or service offered by the mainstream corporate giants. Sadly, many of them aren't widely known or advertised. But for every problem that brought us here, a solution exists, if we just take the time to learn and apply it.
Tired of Windows or MacOS telling you how you can use your computer? There are a dozen different versions of Linux that can fit almost anybody's use case. Did Patreon eject you for creating something they didn't approve of? Entire economies of peer-to-peer cryptocurrencies exist that let you do an end-run around them. Did Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube ban your account for some unfair and arbitrary reason? Whole suites of self-hosted Fediverse software exist to let you host your own alternative to their walled gardens.
It takes some effort and few resources to get started, but learning to how to use these alternatives doesn't have to be any harder than it was to create websites or message boards in the past. With a little practice, you'll find it's a lot easier than you think. And by choosing these alternatives, you're supporting open-source software, the privacy movement, protests against authoritarian control, and most importantly, your own best interests.
Still have questions? Check out our FAQ for more info.
Take your first steps into building your own community here.