xenmaster's free speech catalog
Either as havens for the deplatformed or as open source self-hosted solutions to those who don't want to put their community in the hands of the google and facebook behemoths, the following solutions are pretty much guaranteed to protect your right to say what you want, as long as you aren't saying/doing anything illegal. Content moderation is pretty lax in many of these apps and unfortunately, many attract refugees with unpopular opinions from the more conventional apps they replace, so proceed at your own risk!
NOTE: Unlike my other lists, I revisit this one to edit on a regular basis to add new better options and to remove those which are either shut down, go dark, or compromise their free-speech principles (in the case of third party services).
Last Update: 9-17-2021
These are my number 1 go-to for folks looking to set up their own communities since they generally allow people to set up their own servers for their own groups and allows their independent groups to communicate with other hubs using the ActivityPub protocol. Think of the way how email works - you can get an email address from google, yahoo, microsoft, but with that address you can send email to anyone else who is also has an email address, even with a different provider.
All of these options are open-source and free software!
You can find more info on available hubs to join using the site: https://fediverse.network/
Pleroma is a replacement for Twitter. However, I find it to be a far superior product because you have the power to basically host your own twitter and set your own rules based on the instance you are running. While Mastodon is very popular for this purpose, those seeking a leaner model for microblogging are encouraged to try Pleroma. It's so efficient that it can run on a Raspberry Pi and has a much smaller footprint for updates compared to Mastodon, which runs multiple dependencies that can be taxing for those not using a managed host.
Category: Image Sharing
PixelFed is basically a ActivityPub self-hosted version of Instagram, and for a program still in development, it looks fantastic. As with all the other services, you can start up your own instance, share your pictures with close family and friends, and federate with other hubs without having to worry about the creepy aspects of Facebook being all up in your business, running ads, or using their facial recognition on your personal images. They also allow NSFW content, depending on the hubs, as opposed to Instagram, which bans it completely.
The most popular hub to join, pixelfed.social, is currently closed for registrations, but other hubs are listed on https://the-federation.info/pixelfed. Managed hosting for pixelfed hubs can be secured at https://app.spacebear.ee for a nominal fee.
Category: Video Hosting
PeerTube is basically Youtube but run on a bittorrent-like platform, which is P2P in nature. Like with Mastadon, you can host your own instance or join peertube.video and post your content there. I'll post any possible fully managed hosting options once I see any that are worth posting.
Category: Social Network
This is a replacement for Facebook. I like the interface better than Diaspora, which is the more popular social network replacement that is part of the activitypub family. I don't see any particularly popular hubs to join and/or managed hosting options, but aside from the more aggregated functionality you see in Facebook with things like messaging and marketplace and such, this is a good ad-free network to set up and/or join.
Category: Blogging Platform
This service basically is a minimalist version of Wordpress or Medium. Unlike those platforms, you can skip all the addon and clutter of the other sites or the expensive managed hosting options like Wordpress.com or Ghost or obnoxious paywalls and unfair content promotion like on Medium. While this site isn't a good option for fancy websites (see hubzilla below), bloggers who want to focus on content will find something to like here.
Managed hosting can be found at https://www.writefreely.host and the most popular hub that people can join is at https://write.as. (they run an onion service and allow you to post anonymously too!)
Category: Website Platform
If you are looking to build a fully-fledged website that can communicate with other ActivityPub sites, this is the best option for you! Hubzilla (formerly known as Redmatrix) is a modular webserver based operating system which includes technologies for publishing, social media, file sharing, photo sharing, chat and more (including the ability to develop custom modules). These services are accessed and connected across server and administrative boundaries through the communication protocol Zot which provides a high level of privacy and security customization and a nomadic identity for the users. A webserver running Hubzilla is called a "hub". The decentralized network consisting of the total of the hubs - "the grid" - federates with other platforms listed here.
You can find managed hosting for hubzilla servers at https://www.knthost.com and the functionality can be sampled at the https://start.hubzilla.org node.
Category: Discussion Board
Lemmy is the ActivityPub version of Reddit. You can host your own service or join a pre-existing servers.
Category: Audio Hosting
Funkwhale is basically a soundcloud service that can be self-hosted. Unlike services like Ampache, though, Funkwhale can be federated with the other services listed here. It's not super popular yet either, but it's getting there.
https://www.open.audio is the most popular hub to join - no managed hosts to be found (yet)
third-party free-speech platforms
Unlike the above options, these platforms are all third-party hosted. Most don't discriminate based on political content, but will remove content that is either illegal or doesn't support their own biases. (e.g. no spam, nsfw content, pirated content, etc)
Most of these platforms have admirable goals - they typically do not have advertisements, many are open source and have a high regard for user privacy, as opposed to the services they replace, and they do not censor speech based on political preferences.
That last bit can be a challenge though, primarily because they tend to draw crowds that have been banished from other platforms for good reasons (like spamming users, harassment, violent speech, etc.) However, for folks who have been deplatformed for expressing controversial and/or unpopular opinions, this may be the best option, especially for those not seeking to set up their own servers. Bear that caution in mind when joining these services!
Update: Removed Idka, this service have been discontinued. Removed VLARE too as the assets were recently acquired by one of the developers who has indicated s/he is openly hostile to the previous free speech principles.
Gab is probably, on its face, the most famous free-speech platforms out there. The creator, Andrew Torba, created the service after he saw that Twitter was moving in a direction that censored people that the company Twitter didn't particularly agree with and also censoring people to protect their brand from advertiser backlash.
Having said that, the major draw back is their reputation as a retreat for some less-savory characters that have been banned from Twitter for legitimately inappropriate behavior, including harassment of other users and bigoted content, primarily centered around anti-semitism. As a result, the stability of the platform has been threatened in the past, like with their website domain being cancelled, their payment services being revoked, their azure infrastructure being threatened, and their apps being removed from the AppStore and Google Play, and some people might be turned off by the reputation and the presence of bad actors on the platform. I would say proceed at your own risk when using this service.
Edited: 7/8/2019: Gab is now a heavily customized fork of the Mastodon software noted above. This means that it is open source and accessible by apps like Fedilab and Tusky Uncensored. Some apps have chosen to block the Gab Social instance but many still work. Similarly, many large Mastodon hubs like Mastodon.social and others have chosen to block the Gab Social instance as well to prevent users from reaching the content their administrators find objectionable or (in the case of mastodon.social) illegal in their communities.
Category: Social Network
Minds is a platform created in response to the blatant surveillance and shady dealings of Facebook that was being done in the light of the PRISM / NSA scandal. The founder Bill Ottoman is a proud free-speech and anti-censorship advocate who also opposes the overreach of government surveillance using social media platforms.
Functionally, the platform is similar to Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube all rolled up into one where creators can post their own content and share it publically or privately. There's no conventional advertising on this platform. Lately Minds has instituted its own cryptocurrency platform called Wire for creators to monetize their content. Given the dubious nature of such things (I doubt the currency is actually worth anything outside of the platform), using other means of securing sponsorship is recommended for creators looking to monetize their content.
They also have end-to-end encryption for their messaging, but its efficacy has been called into doubt in the past in github comments that have never been addressed (or at least the addressing of these has never been made public). Their mobile app also has very low reviews and they recently instituted a controversial moderation policy that not only involves around removing incorrectly flagged content, but also relies in part on a jury of users to determine which direction appeals go.
Overall, it's probably one of the better platforms. There have been some refugees from Youtube and Facebook bans that have happened recently, but they aren't as bad as what I've seen on other platforms (most are politically incorrect conservatives as opposed to legitimately offensive people who were harassing other users).
Similar to Gab or Twitter, this allows people to post microblog postings, but without discrimination based on political viewpoints. This site was taken down momentarily for being an easy political scapegoat but is now back under new leadership. Note that while the terms of service here are more forgiving than places like Twitter, they are not 100% free-speech safe, so read the fine print!
Category: Video Hosting
Bitchute operates similarly to PeerTube in that it uses torrenting technology to supported hosted videos. Unlike PeerTube, the system is centrally managed and closed-source.
Bitchute is essentially similar to Gab in that it is a platform that primarily attracts those who have been banished from YouTube. Like Gab, it's also had its infrastructure threatened as a result of organizations like Paypal refusing to do any kind of work with them as a result of the deplatformed content creators that operate there. Similarly, it's a decent platform that has attracted a rather bad reputation as a result. As long as you can get over the fact that the platform is shared by people you may not agree with, it's a fine alternative to YouTube that doesn't ban or demonetize people who don't break their rules simply due to advertiser pressure, twitter mob outrage, or the company's political preferences.
Category: Video Hosting
Similar to youtube, Rumble has been taking advantage of Youtube's heavy handed censorship and enforcement by claiming that while they will remove content that is pornographic, illegal, or violates copyright, they will not remove content based on political leanings or controversial positions. This one is rapidly building additional functionality to include things like livestreaming too, so it's definitely an up and comer!
Note that this service is more mainstream than Bitchute so if you want your content to be seen, this is your best option!
Category: Discussion Board
A successor to the defunct VOAT.CO board, ruqqus is a haven for sites and subreddits that have been recently banned by Reddit for political reasons. This site does claim it will remove content that violates very specific laws and rules, but generally speaking does what it claims. It does not serve ads, claiming that ads are the backdoor through with censorship creeps. Overall, a lot more mature than other boards and getting stronger!
Category: Discussion Board
Tildes is another alternative to Reddit. Their FAQ states that their platform will be different from sites that "collect our personal data and fail to protect it; amplify outrage and encourage mob harassment; spread false information and radicalize viewpoints; and allow racism and hate speech to propagate." The solutions they propose include the following:
- no-profit, no-investors
- no advertising, user-supported
- open, honest, open-source
- minimal user tracking, better privacy
- high quality content, discussions
- limited tolerance, especially for assholes
The owner of the site has said the following about speech: "I'm never going to refer to the site as a 'safe space' or ban anyone just for occasionally acting like a jerk in an argument—I'd probably have to ban myself fairly quickly. However, it will also never be described as anything like 'an absolute free speech site'." Folks looking for a moderated community that isn't under pressure from outrage mobs, advertisers, or the company's political preferences can probably find a welcome place here.
Category: Political Activism
Clouthub is a service dedicated to support civic social networking and activism. It doesn't discriminate based on political persuasion, unlike other more popular services and mainstream social networks. The app has common-sense rules against advocating for violence and for prohibiting harassment of users without classifying mainstream political positions as 'hate' and banning them.
Private Third Party Services
These are services that allow for private interactions between individuals. They don't use algorithms to boost content and permit people to speak freely and either encrypt their conversations, refuse to record them, and/or make groups private to prevent outsiders from interfering with groups of people who wish to get together and discuss things.
Category: Social Network
MeWe is probably one of my favourite platforms. Like Minds, it is essentially a replacement for Facebook, except it focuses a lot on private groups. Instead of having public posts like on Facebook, MeWe is dedicated to setting up close circles of friends and family for sharing content. It's similar to the benefits of Mastodon, but with more functionality, it's not free and opensource, and is entirely managed by a third party. Their app has seen an explosion in popularity ever since the shutdown of Google+, which is good because it means that their refugees are not coming from other places as a result of bans.
There are no ads or datamining on MeWe - their creators are committed to making money based on selling custom emojis and their MeWePro plans, which including awesome features like end-to-end encrypted chats (although these can't be verified since not open source) and extra storage space. It also comes with desktop apps and a custom mobile camera as well. The fact that this site is also supported by Tim Berners-Lee, one of the main guys who invented the world wide web, adds a lot of credibility to this site!
For Creators: Build your community. Control your destiny. Make money from subscriptions. Own your data. Leverage your network. Publish your content, engage with your supporters, and monetize through subscriptions.
For Members: Be a part of the community. Decide which creators you want to support. Access exclusive content. Get exclusive content that is never censored or filtered by an algorithm. Unlock the ad-free content library. Watch videos and listen to podcasts from the web or the app. Connect with members who have shared values. Contribute to the community by creating your own posts. Express your comments freely (only other supporters can read comments). Get closer to your favorite creators. Premium supporters can also communicate with the creator through direct messaging. Join live chats and exclusive conversations in the community. Your Locals account creates a personalized feed for all the communities you follow. Access communities on the go with the Locals app, available on both iOS and Android.
Category: Hyperlocal Networking
Nextdoor is basically replacing the local news bulletin in many neighbourhoods. It allows individuals who are identified as living in specific areas to communicate in a local network based on geography. This removes the ability for outsiders to manipulate the conversation.
Caveat: This is an ad-run network, and Nextdoor is pretty upfront about using your name and image to support their ad-network. They also have 'hate speech' rules that could be used to suppress mainstream political views - how likely you are to run into that kind of censorship largely depends on what kinds of actual neighbors you have. This service also requires you to use you real address and name, meaning it is not anonymous. Be careful what you post!
Category: Email Service Provider
Email is the original federated service, however platforms like Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft have been responsible for scanning emails for content, spamming users with advertisements, and has been a target for passive mass surveillance. As a result, a good option would be one that encrypts the users communication to avoid all three of these issues. Protonmail isn't the only player in town (Tutanota is also excellent and comes with a free mobile app) but Protonmail is among the best. ProtonVPN, from the same business, is an additional step to help avoid surveilance.
Apps listed here run almost exclusively on the Steem cryptocurrency.
Edit: removed peerhub, this app is dead.
Category: Discussion Board
This is a reddit clone also built on top of the STEEM cryptocurrency. Like most platforms running on crypto, the content seems overwhelminly geared towards cryptocurrency and individual posts host a lot of D.tube videos since both share a common platform.
Category: Video Hosting
This is another video sharing platform, but this platform is based on the STEEM cryptocurrency. As a result, it tends to be fairly unreliable and subreddits dedicated to this software seem to be highly focused on the lack of functionality and multiple errors on this platform. Having said that, it also seems to have a lack of ban refugees so a good place to find content that is different from independent creators.
Infrastructure + Platforms
Folks who have been deplatformed typically not only lose access to their social media accounts, but also to the ability to comment, share apps, and host websites. The below items are services that typically have a high regard for user privacy, security, and don't discriminate against people based on content or viewpoint (although some do, I will mention those examples here).
Bahnhof is run out of Sweden which has very strong press freedom laws and has hosted Wikileaks and The Pirate Bay in the past, which demonstrates their committment to press freedom and protecting controversial content. They have also taken a strong stance against passive government surveilance, including refusing to log website activity and offering free VPN services.
Category: Domain Registrar (sort of)
Njal.la is a proxy for domain registration. Basically, the company registers a domain on your behalf and you pay using either traditional payment methods or bitcoin if you wish to register anonymously. Njal.la can be used with TOR as well, making it effectively able to register domains without it being traced back to the registrar. Good plan for keeping one's privacy intact!
Category: Domain Registrar
In 2018, Epik made big news by agreeing to take on the Gab domain once their previous registrar, GoDaddy, kicked them off their platform. Not only did Epik do this, but their upper management wrote a lengthy blog post explaining the reason for their decision.
Basically stated, they claim that "there are many kinds of online content that some people find objectionable. When it comes to publishing content, online or offline, there is an interplay between free will and personal responsibility. Specific to Gab, the decision to not only tolerate but to welcome competing views, does come with a responsibility to take action when free will is exhibited without personal responsibility ... In the case of Gab.com, there is a duty to monitor and lightly curate, keeping content within the bounds of the law."
If Epik was willing to stick their neck out for content that most find objectionable, it is reasonable to assume they will do the same for you for far less. It also helps that their domain process are some of the lowest priced in the business!
Category: DDoS Protection
When the anti-semitic site Daily Stormer lost their DDoS protection from Cloudflare based on an arbitrary decision made by Cloudflare, BitMitigate decided to take up the slack and keep them online, despite enormous pressure from every major tech company to avoid doing so. I definitely do not approve of this type of content, but BitMitigate decided to step in when the rich and powerful decided to kick a website off the internet because they disagreed with its content, especially after proclaiming they wouldn't do this.
If they could do it once, there is a good chance that these same actors could fall prey to pressure to start doing the same to sites that start broadcasting politically incorrect or socially unconventional content. A site that has shown the courage to fight back against this kind of thing for such a controversial site can probably be counted on to do the same for less offensive sites, including yours, perhaps.
BitMitigate was acquired in 2018 by Epik Domains (see above) and now offer their services in a package deal.
Category: Comment Board (browser add-on)
Dissenter is a solution to being banned from the comments section of a website or for people who are looking to escape comment moderation since it isn't enforced here. Dissenter effectively is a comments platform that travels with you from site to site and is under the control of a separate independent platform. Dissenter was created by the folks at Gab to circumvent users who are banned from news commenting sites. Unfortunately, similar to Gab itself, the platform overwhelmingly host to a group of people who traffic in opinions and beliefs that most in polite society would find to be distasteful. I add it here because I think the possibility of having a similar platform that is responsibly moderated would remove the negative affects associated with this particular solution.
Note also that this add-on is only available at the corresponding Dissenter Browser, which is a fork of Brave, since Chrome and Mozilla both banned the add-on from their platforms, again, mostly because they object to its community, rather than for violating any of their terms of service.
Category: Subscription-Based Fundraising
SubscribeStar is an alternative replacement for Patreon and is probably one of the best options available for people who are tired of Patreon's political motivation for deplatforming users or their inability to secure the payment information of Patrons.
SubscribeStar does have a policy that doesn't allow people to use their platform who "harass, abuse, insult, harm, defame, slander, disparage, intimidate, or discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, race, age, national origin, or disability," which makes it an ideal platform for users who have been banished from Patreon for political reasons but still are not associated with hateful content or harassing behaviour. There is also a pretty strict onboarding process done to ensure that people who sign on to the platform meet with specific expectations and quality requirements. The platform also resolves it can terminate accounts in response to the aforementioned behaviours.
This type of policy definitely helps remove bad actors, but for folks who feel these restrictions are too much are recommended to try Patreos below.
Liberapay is a donations platform similar to GoFundMe or Patreon that can also be self-hosted. It has some limitations (it doesn't really allow perks the way Kickstarter or Patreon do) and does allow the content creators to avoid processing and hosting fees.
There aren't a whole lot of solutions for people who are getting banned from the AppStore for not being in-line with Apple's walled garden, but for folks building Android Apps to their services and sites, there is an easy alternative to the App Store - F-Droid.
Note that apps featured here have to be free and open source only. Aptoide is a good alternative for people seeking to release apps that are closed-source, but it's a questionable marketplace that hosts many potentially dangerous apps.
For those who wish to minimize their dependence on third party platforms, sometimes the best solution is to host your own. The following are services, particularly, financial services, that can be hosted either on a VPS or internally.
Edits: Removed SelfStarter and CloudPatron since these services are no longer active. I have no replacements for the category of self-hosted patronage at this time. Replaced Open Streaming Service with OwnCast and added Houdini and Taler as good services for crowdfunding and payment processing respectively.
Lufi is a great way to distribute files in a fully encrypted manner. It's a central self-hosted server that allows files to be encrypted end-2-end from the storage to delivery so that no one running the server can examine any files being hosted there.
Category: eCommerce Marketplace
OpenBazaar is an alternative to eBay or Amazon that can be used fully peer-2-peer for people to list what they've got to sell and to browse what they want to buy. A good option for people selling electronic assets, like music, videos, eBooks and so forth without relying on a traditional ecommerce platform. Also allows users to pay using cryptocurrencies.
Category: Payment Processor (Crypto)
If you want to forgo relying on any payment platform, including those that process bitcoin payments, you can roll your own server that accepts BTC using BTCPay Server. It requires set up, but well worth it for the peace of mind of avoiding the pitfalls of relying on third parties.
Category: Subscription services (crypto)
As the name suggests, this is a self-hosted version of what the OnlyFans subscription service uses, where a regular payment grants access to content. This service accepts payments via cryptocurrency (ETH) so no need to worry about your payment processor shutting you down for posting extra-spicy content (although you can post whatever content you want.
Category: Payment Processor (non-Crypto)
This is a payment service that does not rely on new payment methods (i.e. not a cryptoservice) and protects the privacy of the customers who use it. It can also be self-hosted. The only issue is that it looks like it is still in beta and the GNU project has a history of being unreliable with their projects so proceed at your own risk!
Similar to Kickstarter or Liberapay, this is a self-hosted donation service where people pay you for your efforts to produce content that is posted regularly. Unlike Kickstarter, it doesn't have a code of conduct that reaches beyond the service itself. It is billed for use by non-profits and NGOs, but works just as well for startups that need crowdfunding and regular support.
Category: Group Chat
Mumble and the server component Murmur both work as an alternative to Discord in that they allow encrypted end-2-end team speak that ensures the privacy of the individuals communicating and that the people who set up the platform can avoid being shut down by a third party service provider.
Category: Streaming Services
Similar to Twitch, but without the required code of conduct, you can use this as a self-hosted platform to perform your own livestreams on your own hosted server.
Category: Classified Posting
This is a drop-in replacement for something like Backpage or Craigslist for those who are reeling from the recent modifications to those sites and the ever more restrictive content guidelines on these platforms. Similar to Peerhub, it's powered by the Ethereum blockchain and allows users to post their own advertisements without having to worry about them being censored or blocked.
A simple as it looks, currently only one contender is here. I will add more as more reliable services in this space become available.
Category: Secure Messenger
Signal is the most reliable and best end-2-end encrypted application out on the market. It has both a desktop component made through Electron and native mobile apps on both the AppStore and on GooglePlay.
Many messengers now are logging content and throttling / blocking service, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. On Signal, it would be impossible because even though the service is centralized, the server never knows what your content looks like. The only major downside is that it is not built for anonymity and requires a phone number to operate - including the desktop component.
Comments on 'xenmaster's free speech catalog'
Wonderful list you gathered here. How about updating it with services like minds, and mastodon and the like sometime?
This list already has Minds on it, it's listed under the "third-party free-speech platforms" section.
As the banner shows at the top, this list once had Mastodon on it, but I replaced with Pleroma as my federated, self-hosted microblogging solution of choice because it is easier to administrate and more lightweight than Mastodon. Thanks for your comment!
Liberapay is listed in the wrong section, our software is open source but it can't be self-hosted.
I thinks diaspora.com is also a good website for free speech . It looks like mastodon
Move Gab to the Fediverse section and remove Parler and F-Droid since they don't support freedom. Good list otherwise.
I'll probably create a separate entry for Gab-Social and move that to the Fediverse location and keep Gab.com, the main instance, where it is. Agree that F-Droid handled the gab situation poorly, but they still allow apps that connect to that instance, including fedilab, so I'm keeping that one where it is unless you can provide me with a better alternative.
What's wrong with Parler?
CYGO Network needs to be added to this list