Frequently in communist circles, there is a discussion about the issues related to “structureless tyranny”; in essence this is where when organizations are so structureless, that structure reinforces itself without the necessary checks and balances in place to keep people from abusing their power. For this essay, I will go over issues related to decentralized social media, and how it arose after the issues present in centralized social networks, and how one network brought a lot of users over from Twitter to Mastodon. However Mastodon, out of all the decentralized social networks, has the most problems related issues of structureless tyranny, and even more unnerving issues.
I had noticed for some time had Mastodon was trying to be the Leftist sector of the Fediverse. While this is absolutely what the fediverse needs, there is an issue related to how one can report other issues across different servers. Often servers will outright choose to remove users who registered, rather than checking the validity of the claims, because people can flood a bunch of reviews from all across the Mastodon Universe. By contrast, other places like GNU Social do not have this problem, as you have to be a member of that specific server. Even on Diaspora, one of the most techbro laden networks out there, has given up on even reading reports at times, because of people misusing the feature.
A simple alternative would be for networks to only allow users to be reported within the scope of individual servers, rather than letting it be a free for all. Currently I’m not sure of any way to do this on Mastodon. So you’re limited either to a free speech network, or hosting your own content. Most of the checks and balances in place on Mastodon are not present, despite its decentralized nature. This is why I’m considering hosting a Pleroma instance rather than Mastodon. Plus the large character count makes it easier to use for long form posts.
It’s fine if you want to create a safe space for minority groups, what’s not OK is created a network architecture where anyone can report anyone from anywhere, but you never really know the reasons why people are reporting other users. The report could be coming from a free speech network, and they want to misuse the rules about safe spaces and use it for a racism and bigoted agenda. At least on places like Twitter, there is a general staff that you can confront to make necessary social changes. But with decentralized places, all you have is you and your own server. While this is good if you’re able to host your own server, it’s bad if there is no quality control to make sure people are able to use your servers features outside the context of belonging to that server.
This is why I’m waiting for more user-friendly and viable alternatives to Mastodon to come out. One saving grace seems to be that I’m able to create Bots, but there isn’t a whole lot of documentation currently on how to user key servers. So this may be a while before I’m able to roll out a simple ChatBot.