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Fediverse Governance Successes & Gaps

by Darius Kazemi, Dec 5, 2023

I'm pleased to announce that Erin Kissane and I will be running a project called Fediverse Governance Successes & Gaps, generously funded by the Ford Digital Infrastructure Insights Fund (DIIF).

A textile design with a network of branches and stylized leaves and flowers rendered in stipples of dark rust color over a light tan background.
Anonymous Alsatian textile, Met Museum collection.
CC0-licensed per their Open Access policy.

An overview

Federated social media, AKA the Fediverse, is growing. Even Meta has announced intent to interoperate with the network via Threads. The more people get on the Fediverse and want to live their online lives there, the more risks there will be to that network. These include intrinsic structural risks (like how can communities self-govern in ways that make sense, how can they pay to maintain their own infrastructure, etc), as well as extrinsic risks (attacks of all kinds including organized trolling, state-sponsored actors, hacking, and more).

Here's a draft mission statement for the purposes of this post right now:

We are going to take into account the people, the software, and the processes of the Fediverse. We are going to do the best job we can to capture how prepared (and how unprepared) they are to deal with the risks they face. Then we are going to make strong recommendations for how open source projects, philanthropic funders, civil society organizations, and others can co-create a Fediverse that is safer and better for humanity than the social media we've been stuck with for two decades.

Some details

The project is planned to kick off in January 2024. The plan is:

In terms of tone and length, I hope the final handbook will read somewhere in between my own Run Your Own Social and a massive whitepaper like the Atlantic Council's Scaling Trust on the Web. That is to say: I'm hoping it will be both readable and also reasonably comprehensive! Expect some kind of executive summary too, for the poor executives who have scant minutes in their day.