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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2020-04
End: 2022-10
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Services + Applications


Federated social networking environment

Hubzilla is one of the most mature stacks within the so called Fediverse, and is able to run different protocols such as ActivitPub, Diaspora and Zot. Hubzilla provides powerful tools for communities and individuals to help organise themselves, while providing a possibility to interact with each other. It is a decentralised identity, communications and permissions framework built, using common webserver technology. The software features many useful apps to enable discussions, event organisation, file sharing etc. with built-in internet-wide access control. With Hubzilla you don't have an account on a server, you own an identity that you can take with you across the network.

With the help of the NGI Zero grant, the new version of the zot protocol (zot6) will be implemented as the primary communication protocol and the UX/UI will be improved to lower the entry barrier for less experienced computer users. And of course you can easily search your Hubzilla server for topics, users, fora and tags.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

One of the oldest questions on the internet is: how do you adequately prove you are you? Or perhaps the reverse formulation offers a better mental model: how do you prevent others from succeeding in pretending they are you? Now lets flip this question around once more: how would you like to see this managed yourself, if you could? How heavy-weight or convenient do you want to be proven that you are you, to allow you to get into your own environment or have something done on your behalf? And what is it worth to you in terms of effort? Would you be willing to spend a minute to have some clever secure device you have in your pocket involved? Authenticate via your mobile phone? And what if you are in a rush, or on the go? Are you happy with some company like your email provider or a large social network having the ability to make that judgement, based on a user login a few hours ago? And what if that company is based in some other jurisdiction, and could be forced to let others in as well? Or would you rather choose your own identity, and formulate direct rules to have complete control at any given point?

Instead of handing over all your credentials to some company that then sets the rules for how you authenticate yourself, or having countless accounts and passwords that get lost (or hacked), how about you simply own your identity? Something like a passport that you use to prove that you are who you are and when you want to leave a forum, or stop a particular service, you put that passport back in your pocket and move on.

This is what Hubzilla makes possible: technology that lets independent websites connect to each other and users move around freely, carrying their own identity with them. On top of this infrastructure you can make all sorts of apps, build a webshop, interactive chat, whatever you want to make a rich, collaborative and community space, for example for your school or local business. Users can seamlessly move across sites, access files, send each other messages, with highly detailed permissions for what they can and cannot do and in complete control of their identity. This way communities can organize themselves and chat, trade, collaborate independently and on their own terms.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.