You cannot harass other members of Mozilla.Social Mozilla’s new Mastodon instance. It’s also against the rules to use offensive language in relation to gender, sex or sexual orientation, age, race or ability. Impersonate someone. Several of these policies are standard, while others are heavy-handed and difficult to challenge. Mozilla’s policy is simple, and it is very unusual in the social media world: If it’s questionable, then it’s out.
Steve Teixeira is Mozilla’s Chief Product Officer. “We won’t advertise that we are some neutral platform,” he says. He said that too many platforms attempt to find a neutral ground between people who wish to harm others and those who do not, but in reality there is no such thing as a middle-ground. Mozilla wants to make Mastodon an enjoyable place for everyone by not pretending to neutrality and not claiming that it is the free speech arm of any organization.
Mozilla’s content policies make it clear that they will protect those who are most vulnerable online. Teixeira expects that his stance will be criticized, but is okay with it. This is the point. He says, “This is how you stake out your point of view about content.” He wants Mozilla.Social to be a place that people can visit and enjoy the experience they want to have. He says, “I don’t want people to harass me, receive death threats or anything else.” “We think it’s important for people to be able to go online, share cat photos, or have a good time with their friends.
Mozilla wants Mozilla.Social to be a place that people can visit and enjoy the experience they want to have
Mozilla.Social represents the next step of Mozilla’s exploration into the future of decentralized social media. announced that in December it was exploring the Fediverse to help create a more social online sphere. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker recently said on podcast, “The first thing is to be an active participant and learn, and not to roll in like a gorilla or a giant thing who’s saying, ‘Sure we know everything and we’re just going to tell you what it is.'” Mastodon is not the answer to this future, though many smart people believe it. and its ActivityPub protocol might be. But it’s still a good place to begin.
Mozilla quickly identified content moderation as an area where it could make a difference. Mozilla chose to focus on content moderation in part because of its size and the tools and resources it offers. It also fits with Mozilla’s pledge for a Healthy Internet, which was published a few year ago. The Pledge argues that the Internet should be treated as a real-life experience, where everyone can use it, feel welcomed, and improve their lives. Content moderation is the most important product of any social networking site. If you want social to be better, you should start there.
Of course, aggressive moderation is not a new concept. Many forums and websites have strict rules on what you can or cannot say. If you join a subreddit for example, you may even be required to follow specific rules regarding the title and formatting of your posts. These are usually smaller forums that focus on a specific topic. Mozilla is trying out different ways to scale it. “Mastodon scale,” anyway.
Teixeira believes that whatever Mozilla did was going to be a huge deal. He hopes the ecosystem will steal all of Mozilla’s best ideas. He talks about “the loadout” of a platform such as this, and thinks Mozilla could help build tools which are available to everyone who wants to set up a Mastodon or complementary platform. Content moderation is also a big task: it’s a manual, tricky job that does not scale well.
Mozilla’s moderation is a combination of human and automated work. Teixeira says that the timing is perfect, as there are many people who have knowledge about the topic looking for work. Mozilla is working with moderators and also looking into open-source Mastodon tools. Teixeira mentions Cinder as one of the most popular. He acknowledges, however, that he is signing up for an ongoing race to stay on top of problems. He is familiar with this race, having worked at Twitter before joining Mozilla.
Mozilla.Social will look similar to Mastodon for the time being, except that it has content rules.
Mozilla. Social will not look very different from most Mastodon instances, aside from the rules for content. Teixeira says Mozilla will start to look for ways to improve Mastodon very soon. “I think that the biggest challenge for Mastodon is that it just needs a little UI love.” Teixeira’s main interest in Mastodon is to find a better tool to verify users and help them settle on the platform. He also wants users and brands to be able locate the authentic versions of people, brands and services. He has already begun to imagine what a Mozilla social app would look like.
Mozilla wants to bridge the gap between some of these apps, and make Bluesky and Mastodon complementary, not rivals. Teixeira says, “We have all been slouching into treating social media like public infrastructure.” The MTA in New York, or the BART, in the Bay Area rely on privately owned internet platforms to announce that the train is delayed. “We hope that the Fediverse will be able to serve the need for reliable places for these kinds of public services that can take root and thrive in a manner that cannot be undone or hampered by one person, or a small group of individuals.”
Mozilla. Social, as of now, is a closed beta. Join the waitlist but it may take a little while. Teixeira said Mozilla is still in its early stages of the rollout, and they are more concerned with building the best space rather than building quickly. He says that “growing like gangbusters” is not a goal for Mozilla. Mozilla and his job is to show that a social network can be created that people enjoy being a part of. Then, help it to grow up to the size and scope of the Internet.