Proposing a change in the term "traditional social media" used in the Wiki

We have been using the term “traditional social media” to refer to facebook, twitter, and similar ones. The opposite being the Fediverse social media. I find the use of the term a bit inconvenient because we advocate to make them not traditional anymore.

I propose to change the terminology to “corporate social media” vs. “alternative social media” as used in the following paper.

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“Traditional” was @aschrijver’s idea:

I kinda like it, because personally I see “traditional” as a bad thing, but I can see how you see that differently.
“Corporate” is certainly a good idea too.

I’m not sure about alternative though. FSF states that you shouldn’t call free software alternative software, because that implies that both alternatives are somewhat equal.
In the wiki I always use “replacements” instead of “alternatives”, as we are not advocating Fediverse projects as just an alternative to corporate/traditional social media, but as something you should replace your former social media presence with.


I’d personally use “corporate” too, not only it is better description, but also there is a lot of people who get scared by the new, non-traditional tech.


I agree with this. I think we can keep the wiki as it is. Actually, an alternative term could be “ethical social media” or “community-driven social media”.


I generally refer to the ‘others’ as mainstream.

We could refer to the fedi as upcoming mainstream :slight_smile:


Yes, “corporate” is also a good option. But note that there’s a huge audience who don’t care about corporate at all. They use what’s ‘hip & trendy’. For those it makes sense to subtly depict their platforms as old-fashioned. Though I have to say that I personally have changed my perspective in the course of time and am most interested in attracting people that would “get” the Fediverse in terms of values and culture. Not an appeal to the broad (unkempt :wink: ) masses and opening the floodgates to hordes the fedi can’t handle…


Agreed, we need more people here who understand the culture, but we have not quite determined what that is yet.

I think there is more to it, people on mainstream seem to follow influencers, who are paid (I assume) by sponsors to plug their products, as a result people get rich, of that.

Given we reject advertising here then the influencer culture may fail here,

Or activity on twitter will explode after an event or some celebrity says something, after a while that dies down and something else trends. But there are algorithms to say what is trending which causes others to click on that topic,

Conversation seems to be very opinion based, rather than discussion based, which I would prefer for the fedi, so a post from science daily actually leads to a discussion for example.

Maybe difficult to change the nature of people or reach the people who want to have that rational conversation.


If you come to think about it… the whole terminology of “influencers” is a marketing term. “Find those people who are able to influence others, and have them push our products by providing monetary incentives to do so”. And give them other forms of help, like clothing to wear, gadgets to unbox, invitations to interesting places, etc.

That part of ‘influencer culture’ would still work without ad-tech and algorithms driving the engagement. I expect all kinds of affiliate marketing and guerilla marketing tactics to appear on the Fediverse when it grows in popularity. Already I notice accounts following me that I suspect are testing the waters and learning about fedi culture.

There’s a growing discontent in the marketing and advertising business by those buying ad space as they see that the Big Tech advertisement platforms such as Facebook and YouTube not only don’t care about their users (the product), but also don’t care about the effectiveness of their expensive campaigns. Targeted advertising doesn’t work as well as it is depicted. But as long as they rake in the money Big Tech don’t care about anything.

The biggest advantage the Fediverse has to fend off advertising is its own culture with anti-capitalist and anarchist tendencies, and fedizens who fled all the crazy of the regular web. It means that any company willing to advertise is walking on egg-shells. Those that manage to get a good presence on the Fediverse will probably do so because of their alignment in values and principles, and find a natural audience of people who dig their message.

There are already examples of this. And not all of this is necessarily bad news. In a changed post-capitalist positive world there’d probably still be businesses. Consumers and producers still would need to be able to find each other and make good choices.

But undoubtedly there’ll be negative side-effects with a growing popularity of the Fediverse. First of all spamming will increase big time, and that needs to be fought. Also opinion-based discussion will be more prominent, as appealing to the gut drives engagement metrics unfortunately. And many unscrupulous marketeers will package their advertisement campaigns very sneakily so people aren’t aware how they are targeted. On fedi there aren’t many rules to follow and also there are no companies and institutions with their lawyers and all to reinforce those rules. There’s a vulnerability there.

The way we design our apps and integrate them with others can help fend this off and keep the culture healthy. With all that we build we must take possible abuse vectors into account. But the tech is only supportive. It is the people and the culture on which most of this hinges, and we must be very aware of that so we can foster it!

A sudden move by a Big Tech player to add fedi support - which some people are anticipating and seem to encourage - will bring the masses to Fediverse. And it will also destroy this culture, or push it to the fringes just like it did on the regular, now corporate, web. Of that I am convinced, and it is why I am proponent of a much slower, deliberate evolution of the Fediverse as a whole. We first need to grow in our own strength.

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I sort of understand the anti capitalist sentiment here, I would assume that is aimed at big tech and big business and not so much as the smaller sole traders and small business world who are sometimes trying to fight against the big players while at the same time run a small business to generate income just to make a living.

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I think the term replacement, at least on a subliminal level could change how people think. Alternative = choice. Replacement is about changing what is being used (or who is used, if applied to sport);

I have the same discomfort as @jorge regarding the term “traditional”. Maybe because, for me, a Portuguese speaker, this term means consolidated, not necessarily old-fashioned, and not necessarily retrograde: when we think of “traditional cultures”, we can think of indigenous people, for example.

When we look at the history of internet, mainstream social media are not remotely “traditional”. On the contrary, they are gatecrashers, doom-warlocks, in my point of view.

I would stick to “mainstream”, because I agree w/ @aschrijver; there’s a huge audience not taking seriously what “corporate” means. Between one and other there is (the term I adopt in my head:) “hegemonic”. But I understand this maybe doesn’t go well on a simple English approach. But hey, wiktionary is always there to add up knowledge :wink:

Summing up, “centralized” vs. “federated” is a good image of contrast, in my opinion. But I stand by hegemonic.


Oh, a very good point. And I agree with the term being problematic, especially when contrasting with references to ‘traditional cultures’ and indigenous people, the use is not appropriate.

For our fediverse “community-driven” as @jorge suggests is a good one. I would avoid “ethical social media”, because this is too abstract and things that happen on fediverse are not always necessarily ethical (even though we strive them to be so). “Genuine social media” is one I like, where you can be yourself, and express “true social”, not the plastic, artificial kind.

But what implicitly derogatory term to use for existing social media? :thinking:

I don’t think “mainstream” cuts it. In its original meaning it is common, normal, widely used. And in culture wars and divisive politics it is given negative connotation (“the MSM”) with an agenda that is not appropriate for a fediverse we’d like to see, imho.

“hegemonic” may cover how we feel about the other social media, but it assumes also a lot of background knowledge to understand why it is used. Knowledge that I think for the most part does not exist with average users of such platforms, and doesn’t put it in context. Then it is just a strange, bit academic word to them.

“Commercial social media” may be used, as anyone knows what the addition of that more or less means. It may raise the additional question “Why? It is free, right?”, which is a good one to ask. Many people also don’t like things to be commercial, though another part just wouldn’t care.

(Btw, in advocacy I started referring to Big Tech as “Advertising giants”. Like when someone says “Use Google [This and that]” I ask the simple question “Why whould you host your service on the biggest advertising platform on the planet?”. Most people think of Google as some standard part of the web, that is freely provided to them.)

Toxic, exploitative, abusive … all accurate, but communicating a lot of political bias that may trigger resistence.

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