Is Social Network, MeWe, Really Planning to Use Solid?

We did indeed, @JollyOrc. The Google+ team feels like it’s in some sort of downward spiral and their decision to pull in the shutdown date by 4+ months was pretty much the nail in the coffin. The good news is that Google+ Exporter does a pretty nice job of producing clean JSON extracts that will (hopefully) be pretty easy to upload into Solid.

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it certainly does - I’ve also got a license for it. :slight_smile:

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Tim has described Solid itself as a platform in his open letter.

“Solid is a platform, built using the existing web.”

He’s right. The Solid POD server is itself the platform. It can be installed upon Windows, Linux, or Mac, and is a stand-alone platform that is not dependent upon anything else. The Solid POD server is not, for example, dependent upon the pre-installation of a web server.


I’m researching an article about porting data from Facebook, Google+ to alternate, privacy-respecting social networks and would like to talk to you about your experience. I’m interested in how people can port their social graphs (or at least a good portion). Can it be done to MeWe or to other platforms? Is mass migration feasible? @MarkWeinstein: I would like to discuss your plans for helping folks migrate data to MeWe so they don’t need to start from scratch. fbajak(at)ap(dot)org.

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MeWe has not earned trust yet - it’s easy to say you’re pro-privacy but confirmation requires endorsement either with time or critical analysis of source code

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What exactly does MeWe need to do to satisfy your concern that it is pro-privacy? Should it submit to an independent audit? Should it publish its source code? Should open data models be the one ones acceptable for online businesses that promise to protect one’s data?


I have given you my opinion.

It is hard for any company to take a convincing position on privacy, or anything else. How can they be held to account?

We’ve seen time and again how over time users offered one thing end up being caught with another.

It’s a tricky problem for companies and users. Companies can gain trust in various ways, but it is right that we should not rely on words alone.


The devs i follow seem to share this opinion.


I know very little about MeWe but it is madness to trust a company with your data after all we’ve learned, especially a social network!

Whatever a business says about their service and business models can change overnight with financial imperatives, take overs, change of leadership etc. Promises and good intentions are meaningless in business. Some will stick by them, some won’t, there is no way for users to hold them to account.

The fact that the article linked by @dredd above will disappear in April because Google chose to shut down Google Plus, just as it did other popular services like Google Reader, which users relied upon and created the value in, illustrates the point.

In neither case has Google respected the partnership and attempted to work with those users to find a route that helps those users.

Businesses are not like people, they are innately selfish and sociopathic regardless of the people working for them, owning them or running them. We can trust the people, but not the business they are involved in. Too often people confuse the people with the business, and business is happy to exploit that.

We’ve seen how Google also does that with it own employees recently, seeming to respond to their walkouts, while behind the scenes lobbying to reduce protections for activist employees.

We should not be surprised when business behaves like this, we should expect it and not be taken in by assurances, claims, branding etc. How many times does Facebook have to apologise for screwing us before we realise it isn’t accidental, and the promises are just window dressing?

The true nature of business is there for all to see - we just don’t like to see it, because the reality is very uncomfortable to accept.


Valid points under discussion here. I have created 2 posts on our Humane Tech forum, here: How to validate the Privacy-First claims of MeWe? and here: How to validate the business model and mission of MeWe?

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The third viewpoint to take is social slant of a site or network.

We all have the freedom to join whatever leftist, rightist, corporatist (or otherwise), groups we wish to. It’s our prerogative to join with like-minded individuals with shared interests or political viewpoints. However the design, management and algorithms may skew overall membership into a majority vs minority state. In a worst case, the site, or parts of a network, may become a radicalizing bubble of hardening opinions and hate.

The “circles” that G+ had were started with good intent but also increased the division of groups into disconnected sub-cultures or tribes. Again not unexpected given people’s tastes and the feedback of the system itself. (like-minded followers being recommended based on existing followers and interests) … G+ (quite techy), Solidproject (more techy), Github (even more techy) HackerNews (most techy?), as an example.

This social slanting seems inevitable as the internet evolved. Our interests become hobbies, which may in some cases lead to real-world change. (like designing new networks in the current example) However, overall freedoms (copyrights, patents, censorship, laws) are globalized, and should not be tied to any one country’s mandate or authority, nor within the bounds of obsolete social norms. (blocking and banning being a broad user driven function rather than an admin function of a geographically central headquarters) Corporations by definition have legal and governance issues by design. Decentralized networks should not be as constrained, other than by global norms of acceptable behavior.

These considerations need to be built into the architecture of the network, as well as a dynamic flexibility to adapt to abuse of the system to slant the network in any ethically questionable way. The overview of the system has to be decentralized. The management functions or admin as democratic as possible. A progressiveness that matches global societal change. And the flip-side of privacy, which protects against cultism and hate within the darker recesses.

Incorporating these basic principles into the algorithms that underlie search and connectivity of the major systems is central to the network’s wider success.


Tim at Davos (starts 21:26) …

Following link probably relates to the MeWe app being banned from Apple’s app store. (paywall below)

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From memory (I closed my account within a week) the immediate accessibility and visibility of gun-selling & far right groups (“Islam is an evil cult”) weren’t acceptable to me - this meant that my social group would never join, rendering the whole exercise personally pointless. (In addition I suspect that in the UK these groups may well not be legal, but this is moot).

I know it’s difficult to prove trustworthiness prospectively but trust is immediately eroded by the presence of these kinds of groups. There is nothing wrong with starting from a position of family friendliness.

However - different strokes for different folks. I’m not saying some things I don’t like shouldn’t exist on the web (although I do think other things definitely shouldn’t). Beyond legality, the balance is between discoverability and acceptability. I’m just saying that for me the offer wasn’t acceptable, and I just didn’t trust the site overall.

I know that @timbl supports the site, which is strongly supportive that they are heading in the right direction but despite that - I couldn’t accept it myself.

So - some kind of solid social network looks like a good idea; but how do you implement acceptable discoverability (and legality) without compromising privacy and security?

Also - as has been said ad nauseam - there will never be any thing technological to stop the SolidFB of the future from abusing its access to solid personal data once granted.

Happy days


@newmedicine I think the point of solid is that Solid is not, in of itself, a social network. It acts as a container where you place your data and decide who gets access to see, edit, or comment on that data. There will still be a need for social sites to act as connectors between pods and the data in them.

MeWe and any other social platform will always suffer from having groups that are unsavory or are completely misaligned with one’s political views. The point is to encourage people who have similar interests to have a place to speak about those interests. Maybe the ability to “hide” groups that don’t interest a person would be a good feature.

However, in terms of your concerns around discoverability, isn’t the point of a social network to be somewhat discoverable in the first place? In terms of a Pod-driven social network, you would, in theory, get the ultimate control over who gets to see what under what circumstances because the data sits in your solid pod and is simply read by the network. If you want people who are friends of your friends to only get the MOST BASIC information about you or no information, you could choose to lock that down.

It all depends on how sites like MeWe or OpenBook choose to implement the Pod framework. They can choose to set up their own controls and have you pass the control to them or they can choose to allow you to retain full access to locking down your stuff.

On your last point, It’s a bit difficult. You are right in saying that once someone can see your data, there is the potential for mining it and using it for other purposes. We also have seen how often companies don’t adhere to their promises or write nefarious terms of service that nobody can understand. If you share your data, there is a chance you’ll get burned. If you don’t share your data, well, then you can’t participate in anything. Finding the balance means a relationship of trust between you and the social network, which is probably why the only trustworthy social networks need to be behind a paywall so they have a real monetization platform. Otherwise, they will rely on data mining and ads because server bills need to be paid somewhere.


I am just became aware of Solid yesterday. It sounds like a great concept with admirable goals. However…

Unless I am missing something that would be a key feature of Solid Pods, it just appears to be a just a way to store and share personally identifiable information (PPI). If an user chooses to have a Solid Pod provider manage and store their Solid Pod, the user has trusted them with their data. It does not mean that Solid Pod providers will not exist with policies that allow them to share your data without your consent. Also by just using a social network that uses Solid Pods exclusively to manage user data, you are still trusting the social network provider with your data when their app shares it with other users.

The more popular and open social networks have been a boom for getting personal info about a person with little expertise, effort, or expense. However, the information can be used in a both in positive or negative ways by third parties or just without someone’s direct consent. For example, Facebook (FB) has shared all users personal info (unless the FB user changes their default settings) similar to the news media sharing a celebrity’s personal info. People tend to like sharing the personal info (family vacation photos, selfies) that may help increase their social status until it is used in a negative way. In a sense, it is like anyone become famous or infamous through power of social media. I would argue that this potential to become famous or simply get recognition for your family and friends is the main reasons for the popularity of FB and other similar social networks. It will be interesting to see if the concern of keeping their personal data private will outweigh the allure of social recognition (aka everybody is a celebrity and the negatives that come with being a celebrity) with the general public.


Interesting points @JeffB I too wonder where the scale resides in terms of using social media. Are there different types of users of social media, popularity vs authentic sharing (no goal)

My goal is to provide something that moves away from vanity (not the best wordchoice but I think you get the meaning ?). I wonder if we have been conditioned to this, or if it is due to our nature?(dopamine) And if privacy could cause a change in services vs recognition.

I think there is a collective unconscious tipping point, that privacy concern and use would shift if enough people switched. Band wagon, mob mentality, if enough people believed privacy was a larger concern people could be swayed and change.

If you are interested in this conversation, perhaps you would be interested in joining the External Interop and Outreach Panel.