[Rushtalk] Rhousands of Spaniards leave Twitter for GNU social

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Sun May 3 18:19:51 MDT 2015

Free Software Foundation
This guest post was submitted by Daniel Dianes, a Spanish free software
activist. A Spanish language version of the post is coming soon.

The cancellation or temporary suspension of various Spanish Twitter
accounts has led to a huge migration of Spaniards to GNU social, a
microblogging service designed to foster user freedom and control. This
is an exciting win for federated online services.

Unlike Twitter, which is controlled by a centralized authority, GNU
social is a network of independent servers called nodes. Federation
technology allows users to communicate between nodes, preserving the
unified experience of traditional social media systems, and the free GNU
social software allows anybody with an Internet connection to start
their own public or private node and join the network. These
administrators can even customize their nodes to suit the unique needs
of their users.

Since GNU social is decentralized, it's harder for a company or
government to censor content or shut down the network when they feel
threatened by it. This is more than a hypothetical threat—it has been
attempted multiple times by oppressive governments. Spreading out user
data also makes bulk surveillance considerably more difficult, as there
is no single database to crack into and copy.

Twitter user @Barbijaputa is popular in Spain, with more than 167,000
followers. She's known for criticizing the government or any other
political parties or groups of power.

On January 14th, Twitter suspended @Barbijaputa's account after she
participated in a conversation about sexually transmitted diseases. The
next day, she created a profile on GNU social node Quitter.se and
started posting. Her Twitter followers proved willing to follow her all
the way to GNU social, and began joining existing nodes en masse and
starting their own.

The growth was so explosive that the some of the existing GNU social
nodes were unable to handle the traffic. On January 15th, a Quitter
administrator posted this note:

        "Due to high traffic, I need to stop the registrations for some
        time to get back in control. Has been a crazy day (15.01.15) on
        quitter.no and .is - -regards @knuthollund"

The node Quitter.es (Quitter Spain) was created to handle some of the
extra people that overloaded existing GNU social instances like
Quitter.no and Quitter.is. Quitter Spain now has 6,667 users and
counting and Quitter.se reports 4,982 users, due in part to the incoming
Spanish users.

GNU social is not the only federated social network challenging the
centralized status quo. GNU MediaGoblin lets users publish images,
videos, 3D models, and other files, Diaspora* provides a Facebook-like
experience and pump.io is another option for microblogging. The Free
Software Foundation runs a GNU social node at https://status.fsf.org.

Get started with GNU social today by picking from this list of nodes,
and follow the Free Software Foundation at @fsf. Or try pump.io, and
follow the FSF account @fsf there. Even if you don't have as many
followers as @Barbijaputa, encourage them to follow you!

Daniel Dianes, FSF member #9171

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