Why I Use Librem Social
I've been using Mastodon – a free and open source, decentralized social media platform and a compelling alternative to corporate-controlled platforms like Facebook and Twitter – regularly since June of 2019. Mastodon is part of the Fediverse – a collection of inter-connected apps developed around ActivityPub, an open, decentralized social networking protocol.
In 2019 a company I have been following called Purism launched their own Mastodon instance – called Librem Social – as a part of their Librem One suite of ethical web-based software services. I signed up for a subscription because I wanted to show my support for any company trying to offer viable, non-exploitative alternatives to popular services.
Purism hasn't done much with Librem One since they launched it. I expect it didn't catch on as much as they had hoped it would. Since then, they've focused on their hardware and haven't mentioned hardly anything about Librem One. But I appreciate them maintaining Librem One as long as they have.
Admittedly, I didn't renew my Librem One subscription after the first year. I tried their email, chat, and VPN services, but didn't find them compelling enough to keep using them. Librem Social, however, has become my main personal social media account.
On more than one occasion, I have considered moving to a different Mastodon instance. But there are several reasons I keep using Librem Social.
Here are two reasons specific to Librem Social.
Disabled Local and Federated Timelines
Most instances of Mastodon allow you to see Local and Federated timelines. The Local timeline is a feed of all of the posts from all of the accounts within your same instance. The Federated timeline is a feed that shows all of the posts across all instances – at least the ones that support posting to the Federated timeline. Not all of them do.
Librem Social has disabled both Local and Federated timeline support on its instance of Mastodon. I see this as its biggest strength and it has been a good thing for me. It means I am not at risk of being blindsided by a deluge of random, unsolicited content that I never wanted to see. From day one, I have had to intentionally seek out content by searching for it. I search for hashtags, keywords, and phrases related to my interests. I have been able to find and follow people across many different Mastodon instances that I find interesting in some way or another.
General Purpose Theme
Some instances of Mastodon are narrow in their theme and focus. Others, like Librem One, don't have a specific theme or topic – they are just general purpose. My interests are pretty eclectic, so I don't want to feel like I'm pigeonholed into posting about specific stuff all the time.
For example, I interact with a lot of good folks from from the fosstodon.org instance. Sure, they can and do post about all kinds of things aside from FOSS (free and open-source software), but the name of the instance still has that implication and that is their main interest and focus.
I like that Librem Social is a bit more generic in scope.
Mastodon In General
The rest of my reasons are likely true of most Mastodon instances, not just Librem Social.
The main feed is in chronological order. No annoying algorithms causing different posts to show up at the top of your feed every time you reload. I never miss a post if I don't want to, and they are always in the same order.
No Tracking, No Ads
It's certainly possible that some Mastodon instances track their users in some fashion or serve ads, but I would bet that most don't.
And what a refreshing experience it is to not be accosted with endless ads in a social media timeline.
I have met some genuinely good, caring, thoughtful, intelligent people on Mastodon. Some of them share my interests. Some of them don't, but are quite good at expressing themselves in a way that I find interesting or make me want to learn new things.
This has been possible because Mastodon is about allowing people to interact and share their thoughts. It's about building communities, not about exploiting and monetizing people.
I have deleted all of my other social media accounts except for Facebook and LinkedIn.
I keep Facebook because I use it to participate in a few important groups, including Church and family groups. And I keep LinkedIn because it is the best way to keep in touch with professional contacts, network with others in my same area of expertise, and find good employment in my field. But I rarely post to my own timeline in either of them.
Librem Social is now my preferred social media platform, and I hope Mastodon continues to grow and evolve. So far, it's the closest thing to my ideal of what social media should be. I think it has tremendous potential.