The internet is not just about browsers. Browsers are a fundamental part of the human experience on the Internet and will always be central to our work at Mozilla. But the internet is bigger than browsers – every content, app and experience on your device. Our mission will always be to make the internet better for everyone and for that reason, just like with browsers over the last quarter century, we need to show a better way forward in problem areas over the next 25 years. And today I’m excited to share a new area of experimentation for us on social.
Love it or hate it, there is no denying that social media is a huge part of our lives. At best, it’s how we connect with each other across space and time, discover new ideas, learn about what’s happening in the world, and get introduced to content that makes us feel. It provides critical services, like alerting us to catastrophic weather conditions or that the train you’re waiting for is delayed. It has helped dismantle traditional power dynamics, giving a public platform to voices that never had before, and giving us a way to have influence over the powers and decision-makers that shape our lives.
But, look, at the risk of being both dramatic and clichéd, social is broken. Most of those big things that I just mentioned are, well, none of them are working very well right now, are they? Things are ready for experimentation and a new direction, and we believe the Fediverse is central to that. Why? Because it shifts power away from big tech companies and into the hands of diverse voices to build a social platform that serves the needs of the people, not those of the shareholders.
Last year, we announced that we were dipping our toes into the world of Mastodon. Today we are expanding Mozilla.social to a private beta. We have worked hard to get to this stage, but there is still a long way to go before opening it more broadly. We’re making a long-term investment because we think we can help improve Mastodon and social media in general.
You will notice a big difference in our approach to content moderation compared to other major social media platforms. We are not building another self-proclaimed neutral platform. We believe that too often neutrality is used as an excuse to allow behavior and content designed to harass and harm those in communities that have always experienced harassment and violence. Our content moderation plan is rooted in the goals and values expressed in our Mozilla Manifesto: human dignity, inclusion, safety, self-expression, and collaboration. We understand that individual expression is often seen, particularly in the United States, as an absolute right to free speech at any cost. Even if that cost is harm to others. We do not subscribe to this view. We want to be clear on this. We’re building a great sandbox that we can all play in, but it comes with rules that govern how we interact with each other. You are completely free to go elsewhere if you don’t like them.
I’d like to say those rules will be perfect on day one, but they won’t and we know they never will be. But we will create a way to have a dialogue with the community we want to form and to be open about what we are learning.
Most important to us is that people who use our instance feel that their experience brings back more of what makes social great and lessens the mud that made it awful.
It will take time, especially since we are committed to doing it outdoors and with the community that already exists. Many other areas of experience are ripe for experimentation, onboarding, discovery, identity, monetization, to name a few, so expect more from us soon.
If you’re interested in joining mozilla.social as we continue to expand it, join our waitlist. Or get involved in your own way join, give feedback, create your instance. We couldn’t be more excited about this and look forward to working with all of you to build something that’s better for all of humanity.
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