Tech Tools for Activism Update

Microblogging Beyond Twitter

"Imagine my surprise this morning when, without warning, my shiny new Twitter account (@d_seaman) was suspended and taken offline. My crime? Talking too much about Occupy Wall Street ... [and] the controversial detainment without trial provisions contained in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)." ttfa.net/twitsuspended

This chapter will:

  • explain the issues and limitations of Twitter
  • show the advantages of Status.net
  • encourage you to sign up to identi.ca or indy.im

The Limits of Twitter

In recent years Twitter has been an invaluable tool to human rights campaigners and a great source of activist news. But its centralised structure makes it subject to pressure from the authorities to release personal information of Twitter users. ttfa.net/twitsubpoena.

Status.net

Status.net is a microblog service similar to Twitter, but it's decentralised: you can have an account on identi.ca or indy.im, or you can run your own Status.net installation.

Sign up for an account on https://identi.ca or, if you know someone who uses https://indy.im, they can invite you to use that service - it is invitation only to avoid spam users. Both of these communities have a vibrant user-base; indy.im is more activist oriented, while identi.ca is wider with a lot of computer enthusiasts.

Status.net has some neat features; you can: 

  • attach pictures or video to posts without using third parties like twitpic or plixi
  • create/join groups; posts to a group go to all its members, if they are following you or not
  • take an RSS feed from a blog and bring its latest posts into your timeline using brdcst.it
  • install a Status.net app to read and update from a smartphone.

How is Status.net useful for activists?

Using Status.net via https://indy.im or http://identi.ca allows you to update your Twitter status. Once you have signed up for Twitter using anonymous browsing, you don't need to return to these sites. You can then 'tweet' without revealing your identity. This is possible because:

  • your connection is encrypted; your network provider cannot see the content of your updates
  • Twitter will see the IP address of indy.im or identi.ca, not your own IP address
  • indy.im does not log IP addresses; it cannot tell where an update is coming from
  • the imc.li link shortener does not log IPs, anyone clicking your links will not be tracked

Follow these steps to connect:

  • log into Twitter and identi.ca (or indy.im)
  • go to your identi.ca settings and click on the Connections link at the top of the page
  • click on the Twitter tab & enter the details of your Twitter account & click "Authorize app"

The default preferences allow you to automatically repost your 'dents' from identi.ca to Twitter. You can change other settings under the Twitter tab which allow you to use Twitter but from within the more secure environment of a status.net account. 

You can follow up this process by cross posting to a Facebook account or page from Twitter. In this way you are able to make anonymous updates to corporate social networks that normally log your details. 

What Next?

  • Sign up to identi.ca or try to get an invite for an indy.im account. 
  • Try to get cross posting to your Twitter account working.
  • Try using brdcst.it to add blog / web updates into the mix.

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