Review: Friendica Social Network

I managed to play with the decentralized social network Friendi.ca for part of the afternoon and I have to say I was impressed. I didn’t try and install the script on a server, I just joined a node and poked around like a normal member would.

Decentralized: means lots of different people have installed the Friendi.ca script on their own domains on their own servers. These are nodes. Each node administraitor/owner can pretty much set their own rules. Nodes can be subject specific (ie. Star Trek, Sci Fi, Pagan, LBGT friendly or just general).

Federated: means that each independent node can talk to each other, and members can follow members from other nodes.

Friendica is versitile, each member can decide how they want to interact with others: 1. They can screen “friend” requests much like Facebook, 2. They can just have followers more like Twitter who don’t have to be approved, 3. There is a third setting which seemed to me to be more like a Facebook Page (apologies if I don’t have that right but my time was limited) where people could follow without approval. I thought that was very handy since I like a lot of the posting features of Facebook but I don’t like the whole “friending” business.

You can also control who sees your posts and all the other usual aspects of social networks. The interface was, if not polished, workmanlike, serviceable, and not unattractive. Users also have a calendar for events.

As a decentralized but federated network you can read the Public posts of other members of your node, you can also read the Public posts of members of other nodes (the big firehose). The same goes for following: you can follow (and I suppose “friend”) members of both your own node or members of other Friendica installations on other domains (nodes.)

The part that impressed me the most is the syndication aspect which will be different based on the whims of each node owner (as are the rules of conduct and TOS.) But the list of other social networks you can syndicate your posts out to and/or mirror is impressive, they can include: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogger and a bunch of other open source decentralized social networks (Libertree, diaspora).

As impressed as I was with Friendica, there don’t seem to be that many open nodes and the largest only has about 800 some members. Pretty small but I hope it grows. I was not able to find any turn-key professional hosting for running your own Friendica installation.

It would be kind of hard to move to Friendica when you don’t know anybody. I think the best scenario is if you know a bunch of your friends on Facebook are feeling dissatisfied, you could all move to Friendica as a group and start over.

Pros:

Member gets to select how they interact with others either as Friends or just have Followers.

Many of the features of Facebook.

No ads, no reason to track you.

Syndication to established commercial social networks.

Cons:

Installations are small and have no source of income to pay hosting expenses.

All your friends are somewhere else.

Unlikely, that old friends you have lost touch with can find you.

Friendica is something to consider, especially for those migrating from Facebook. If you can get your closest friends to move with you I think you willl like it. If you decide to leave FB this is one to check out.

Brad Enslen Micro Blog @bradenslen
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