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People should be able to use Facebook from Diaspora

Updated on August 17, 2014

There should be a module built that will allow users to view and post on Facebook from Diaspora.

The network effect currently works against Diaspora and for Facebook. Rather than fight an uphill struggle, we should take an approach that allows Diaspora to absorb users from the dominant social network without forcing a divide between the two. Ultimately that boils down to compatibility with existing networks. If we look at the history of quick-adoption in social networks, that is one of many common trends. People aren't going to switch from Facebook to Diaspora if all of their friends are on Facebook, but if Diaspora was compatible with Facebook then it will make it easier, there has to be a port from one to the other. Old social networks used to tricks to gain adoption, one of those was sending mass emails to users' address books to spread promotion. That isn't quite the same as allowing users to read and send emails from the social network, but it was using an existing dominant network to promote one's own. If we look at the quick adoption of WhatsApp, usernames were phone numbers. Everyone who had didn't use the application already had everything set up for them to use it. By starting the accounts, people just adopted addresses that were already waiting for them (I think, I never actually used it).

It's ad hoc, but I think it's important in the shift from private to public social networks.

Having a sort of port between Diaspora and Facebook is ad hoc, but that's okay, it is worth the development time if we are trying to steal a network. Right now Facebook is in the #1 spot for the type of social network Diaspora is trying to be. Since the network effect puts pressure on keeping Facebook in the #1 spot, the goal right now for Diaspora is to take that spot, after that the network effect will support Diaspora. So, there should be a module built that will allow people to view Facebook feeds from Diaspora, and that will allow them to post on Facebook from their Diaspora accounts. Then so-called elitists could use Facebook on Diaspora. Diaspora is objectively better by the measures that we care about, so this eases the transition. People can say "Facebook is bad for privacy, Diaspora is open source, it does social networking right". They can say "I am only on Facebook because all of you are, I am waiting for you to come here."

Are there potential ethical concerns?

This probably violates Facebook's terms of use, but ultimately that's fine. They were the developers, they brought this type of social networking to popular use when its time was right, but now it doesn't make sense for them to keep control of it. It's a public technology. Facebook will do what it can to keep control of the network, but others should fight to take that control and bring it to the public. That means breaking terms of service. There is a conflict between the interests of the public and those of profit-seeking companies, and those are often resolved through struggle and rule-breaking.


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