How could topple Facebook

Ben Halpern on March 22, 2018

I wrote this as sort of a personal journal entry and didn't plan to share it, but with a growing demand for action, I felt like tossing these ideas... [Read Full]
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I feel like is open source already. Maybe not the codebase but the spirit, you guys are making the web better with the experience you provide: fast and personal.
Even the form you provided is easy to use and fun.
this site, it's like a personal , close to the heart Indie game.
and don't hesitate to share anything, we appreciate what you share :)
I'm learning a lot from you :)


Code is my super power for change (big or small) and it's been doing me well so far.

That's it!

Completely agree with you about Facebook situation, you're the first to approach this without being aggressive.

Thank you for being such an inspiring person!


Not alone, but maybe together.

Thanks for being a part of this wonderful community. If you'd like to join our open source efforts, please do fill out the form that Ben mentioned 🙌🏽


Yeah, and as mentioned, we might be moving at too slow a pace on this for some, but yes, we are starting the process of inviting in folks for the audit or are interested in helping in any way.

Our core app is built on Rails and that's where most of the security questions will come up. Folks with experience in this area are most helpful. First timers are super welcome to fill out the form too. Diversity of skillsets is definitely an asset.


The "technically-ideal" solution seems to do a poor job accounting for the social nuances of being human.

A top highlight and very true. Thanks again for your work and everything you do with to make it the place it is. (And the whole @staff)

but I can't say there is a major player in the social space with a clean slate

I've noticed this too, and I have to wonder, is it an inevitable side effect of that scale or something else? Adding on, YouTube continually puts its advertisers and what it sees as competition over the community and its creators. As for Reddit, "...I found that the admins nearly always chose a policy of inaction on potentially controversial problems...". And more.


If not inevitable, it's a big issue with scale. Dunbar's number is an interesting concept.

On the other hand. It is incredibly clear that many of the current platforms focused on scaling above everything else. For whatever it's worth, we've always passed up the opportunity to get "engagement" at the cost of maintaining a constructive outlook. I imagine this will get harder with time but I really feel like this was a major blindspot early on for many.

I really feel like I/we would have fallen victim to a lot of this were it our first business, but the fact that this was not that and that it grew very naturally from my own side project allowed us to really put the stamp on some values. We have to change courses on previous ideals along the way, but we get the benefit of trying not to be like the things we don't like elsewhere. It's the inherent benefit of being newer.


I don't think the Facebook-killer will be an app for individual communities. I think open sourcing is a great idea, but there are already Reddit and phpBB for people who want to start communities. (It might kill Medium though, as its design seems to encourage writing articles, not just posts.) It seems to me that Facebook's bread and butter is that it's a way to keep in touch with your family and old friends. That's not a "community" in the online sense, it's something else.

The other thing about trying to kill Facebook is that whoever wants to do it shouldn't take VC money. The VC model encourages explosive growth at the expense of stability or ethics. And if you grow big enough to threaten Facebook, either you become the new Facebook (with all the bad that entails) or you get acquired by Facebook.

What's the alternative? A centralized nonprofit, like Wikimedia but for social? Mumble mumble blockchain like Steemit? I don't know. Maybe something built upon e-mail, because everybody already has it, but then you have to compete with GMail.


I should add that I mainly consume through twitter, so I could have a completely skewed view of its social features.


I think you're pretty on point. I think there is nuanced ways I could counter a bit of what you said, but I don't think that's necessary. Our outlook is that we're building something useful regardless of how you consume it and a business that can either grow big or stay small-to-medium and have each path be perfectly fine.

Of course, thanks for being a continued reader of the great stuff the community is producing Dustin.

Sorry if that was too negative. To be fair, nobody knew Facebook was going to be the MySpace-killer.


do you think openspurcing facebook codebase would make it clearer on how they treat data? I mean they would have to openspurce all their data pipelines configuration, not only code of website )

kudos for running, even though I was considered a rather agressive member (because of my php hate )))
I like this community and culture.

on a personal note - I’ve abandoned my fb profile some time ago and focused on collecting information sources, or joining communities “in the wild” web, because I remember forums of web1.0 before social networks. someone here might remember BBS ))
but for people who grew up with fb feed being their entry-point to web, it would be hard to give it up


I love to hear founders actually say stuff like this. Many are thinking it and having these goals, but afraid to share it.

As Facebook usage deteriorates, so will their communities (particularly Facebook groups) and come to places like Very exciting for micro-communities all around the web.


I worry that such projects can never make a dent in Facebook because from their very premise they embody moral zealotry.
You can't have an app comparably or more habit-forming for our reptile brains than Facebook without engaging in more than a few of what was relegated to be called "dark patterns".

  • It has to bother us many times per day, at random but somewhat consistent intervals, with random reward.
  • Further than than, it may even have to give us the fear of missing out to engage people in a timely manner and not in batch fashion at their leisure.
  • It has to convert focused passing visits into longer bouts of mindless consumption.
  • The content has to engage users emotionally, not just intellectually. In addition to anger, lust and gluttony are pretty effective.
  • It has to appeal to the users' self-esteem, with meaningless non-constructive popularity metrics.

Should it refuse to do any of these, it is losing further footing against a platform that everyone is already on. The absolute majority of people have no conscious control over their habits, and ain't nobody on a global scale using a Pavlok or other shock collar to get them off Facebook and onto a competing platform.

What CAN be improved, to give it an advantage, is twofold:

1. Politics and censorship

The censorship is straightforward: Facebook's deletion or shadow-banning(hiding) of content is done to cover Facebook's ass legally. If it was for a more pleasant experience for the viewers, there would be options to view this content, hide it until clicked on, or hide it entirely. Furthermore, the posters of the "offensive" content would be catered to, not banned from liking posts and even messaging their consenting long-time friends(and businesses, too) for several days at a time with extreme prejudice. A most ridiculous policy.

The other component is the echo chamber effect, the siloing of opinions. Of course deeply unethical, it may be percieved to improve user experience by presenting content users agree with. I feel like that is a deception, caused by a misoptimisation - Just because we didn't like something or comment on something doesn't mean we didn't have a visceral reaction. Clicking on links and sharing links to posts in messenger should definitely affect post relevance.
Maybe also throw in a popular post from an opposing demographic.

2. Technical aspect

There is a lot of low hanging fruit here.
From performance, feature parity between platforms, and data usage, to features like corellating multiple uploads of the same image, including screenshots and better search.


I'm pretty new here but I feel that is bringing back the open spirit of forums in early 2000's. Unfortunately many communities are stuck within Facebook groups with limited usability and zero history.

I think the main problem is we use Facebook as a hub to check our feed, and interact with whatever it throws in front of us. Sometimes it shows more of some other group that I'm a member of, and I find myself hanging out with that society and forget other groups (plus people and subjects in them) for a while. That's a pretty passive social life that you get dragged with the stream.

Ah, the guys at Codeingame are also doing a pretty good job gathering a community like this, even with a narrower audience than And people moving to discord from Facebook groups as an alternative social platform is also another case that shows that we now need such alternative platforms.

I wish luck in your case:)


Yeah I could beat Google with my WordPress search function but I am not really distracted by delusions of grandeur.


am i too late for being a contributor? 🥺

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