Wikipedia co-founder calls for social media strike to fight ‘long train’ of abuses

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

One of the co-founders of Wikipedia has called for a two-day strike of social media to protest against ‘serious grievances’ and a ‘long train of abuses’ by the platform arbiters.

Larry Sanger had posted a ‘declaration of digital independence’ on his blog at the start of June in which signatories – numbering just over 300 at time of writing – can advocate for decentralised social networks. The primary principles of decentralised networks, of which there are nine in total, focus on publishing data freely ‘without having to answer to any corporation’, supporting better privacy practices, and ensuring no company, or small group of companies, control standards and protocols.

Sanger has subsequently called for users to not post on social media, unless to post notices of being on strike, on July 4 and 5 to ‘flex collective muscles and demand that giant, manipulative corporations give back control over data, privacy, and user experience.’

The declaration makes for a stark warning. “For years we have approved of and even celebrated enterprises as it has profited from our communication and labour without compensation to us,” it reads. “But it has become abundantly clear more recently that a callous, secretive, controlling, and exploitative animus guides the centralised networks of the Internet and the corporations behind them.

“The long train of abuses we have suffered makes it our right, even our duty, to replace the old networks.”

Social networks continue to battle against allegations of misinformation and abuse and are refining their regulations – in the case of Twitter, on a regular basis. Last week the company announced steps to make it clearer when a message remains on the platform which would otherwise have been taken down because of public interest. Earlier in the month, Twitter updated and shortened its rules following user feedback.

The question of addiction when it came to social media networks was explored in a recent piece of research. According to Insights West, which analysed Canadian consumers, weekly usage of Facebook, YouTube and Instagram continued to grow, despite increasing fears from users around news and information shown to them, as well as targeted, behaviour-based advertising.

This is not Sanger’s first attempt to provide greater internet transparency, however. Since leaving the Wikipedia project Sanger has been critical; as far back as 2001, as reported by the Financial Times, he noted the rise of ‘trolls and ‘anarchist types’ who were ‘opposed to the idea that anyone should have any kind of authority that others do not.’

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