Learning to Use Friendica

Finally I’ve run my own Friendica node, my profile is available here.

Unlike more familiar resources, such as Facebook, Instagram, X (former Twitter) etc., Friendica is a federative (decentralized) social network.  It has no central server (only public directories of nodes and users), everyone can run their own node.  If you don’t have such an opportunity, you may join one of existing nodes open for registration.  You can also download a full backup of your profile at any time and transfer it to another node if necessary.

All the nodes exchange data automatically, so that you can follow and send messages to all the other Friendica users no matter on which nodes they are registered.  Moreover, you can communicate with the users of the other federative social networks (a complex of such services is known as the fediverse) without registering there.  From the user’s viewpoint it looks as if you could follow microblogs on X, photo blogs on Instagram, or video channels on YouTube directly from your Facebook account.  It’s hard to imagine in the world of ‘traditional’ (that is, centralized) social networks, but not in Fediverse.

Friendica (as well as the Fediverse as a whole) is a purely non-commercial system, big nodes are usually funded through donations from their users.  As a result, there are neither commercial advertising nor artificial intelligence analysing your interests and preferences.  By contrast, significant attention is paid to the privacy of users: any private messaging is encrypted, as well as any locked posts and posts in closed communities, so that even the administrator of your node can’t read your messages.

There is also no centralized moderation.  Each node has its own rules, so you can choose not only a social network the functionality of which suits your own needs, but also a node the owners of which share your views.  Moreover, even the administrators of your node can moderate only your public posts.  The sanctions are used quite seldom, when the main principle ‘if you don’t like something—just don’t read it’ is not enough.  In exceptional cases, the administrator of a node may blacklist another node, thus blocking any data exchange, but such measures are mostly used against nodes that spread fraudulent spam or neo-Nazi propaganda.

All the feeds are sorted only chronologically, so you should be careful when choosing friends and subscriptions.  If the posts of some of your friends are of no interest for you, but you don’t wand to cancel your friendship, you may unsubscribe from their news.  They won’t notice that.

As to the weaknesses of Friendica and of the other federative social networks, the main of them is obvious: there are too few people in such services (all the Fediverse had only some 16 million users this May), so you will hardly meet there any of your ‘real’ friends or colleagues.  Unfortunately, the only way to resolve this problem is to join the Federation by yourselves 😉

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