What is darcy?
Darcy will allow everyone to run their own federated social media instance – without having to worry about technology, moderation or legal compliance, because Darcy will take care of that for you – if you want!
Social Media should be better: Not a way to manipulate you into viewing ads, but to share important moments with people of your choosing.
To be able to do so, there should be a well-researched interaction model that isn’t focused on driving ad impressions that has a beautiful and accessible interface. It should be well-moderated, in a transparent way. And it shouldn’t be owned by a central company, but decentralized and open source, so you control and own your data.
Darcy will not rely on volunteer hosters and moderators. Adequately reviewing sensitive content, dealing with software patches and ensuring that no single cute cat picture gets lost is actually work. And that work should be paid, so that you can rest assured that these people don’t burn out.
Any civic space will invite all sorts. We are not naive, and we know that the need for content moderation is inevitable. It helps keep the community safe and fight off spam. But we believe that the community should decide how content moderation happens.
By asking users to pay for the services they receive, we ensure that they stay in control of the communities they build.
To be totally clear: We want the community to be in control of the processes that decide what content is allowed.
Darcy will use a system that has come to be known as “Federation”. That means that while every installed server is a small social network of its own, all of these servers can talk with each other. Think about email: Even though people can use wildly different email services, they all can send each others messages.
With such a decentralized network you can have local or thematic communities, but still connect to the larger world. Each community can have their unique voice and tone. We will make it easy to join several such communities if you want to, but still have a unified experience.
The other advantage is that you don’t have to rely on a single company. All social media content that you created will be stored on a Solid Pod datastore – not on some central silo that you have no control over! You can move to another server at any time, taking your data and connections along.
Darcy is open source, the software will be free to install and run yourself. We will play nice with other Open Source social platforms. Within this structure, we will offer optional paid services such as bureaucracy, moderation and hosting. Users can always chose to self-administer and self-host.
Offline communities rely on support workers, first responders, safety enforcement and so on. As online communities grow, we need to think of ways to structure an equivalent human support system that functions transparently, and outside corporate monopoly.
But this isn’t easy to do. If you moderate a global social network, you have to take into account different voices, different contexts, different needs. Once the network is big enough, bad things will show up and you have to deal with them.
Current self-hosted implementations like Diaspora, Hubzilla or Mastodon rely on the volunteer admins of each instance to do the right thing. This is ok as long as the instances are small enough, and the overall network doesn’t get too big.
In addition to the obvious moderation tasks, we will also consider the need to address various harmful practices that range from hate speech to bullying or even human trafficking.
We will implement an API that allows admins to outsource moderation to us. Our moderation guidelines and principles will be informed by social research and accepted best-practices. We will work transparently, with open and documented guidelines, under a trusted advisory board to make sure that everyone has a safe place in this new online civic space.