Thousands of Spaniards leave Twitter for GNU social
This guest post was submitted by Daniel Dianes, a Spanish free software activist. Leer esto en español.
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