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Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2019-04
End: 2019-04


An off-line capable privacy-centric social messaging app

Manyverse is a social networking mobile app, implemented not as a typical cloud service, but instead on a peer-to-peer network: Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB). The mobile app locally hosts the user's database, allowing them to own their personal data, and also use the app when offline. Data can sync from one mobile device to another, via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Internet. Free and open source software.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Social media are important for many people to stay in touch, but they also influence the way we act ourselves. Their persistent presence in our lives creates a lot of pressure to be someone else then we are. This is not a coincidence: the developers have designed the software to keep us 'engaged' at any cost. If we sleep less well because of a message we got just before we went to sleep, that is fair game. We may wake up with a hundred messages we "missed", which creates a lot of stress. But it keeps us engaged, and keeps the advertising cash flowing.

Some people question whether that social frenzy is actually the best design for our society. Long ago, before we even had steam engines, people used to make long business voyages with sailing boats. The sailors would be without contact with home for weeks, sometimes even months. Messages home were not really possible, other than by relay - boats going into the other direction. Even in such an extreme situation, people were able to enjoy life.

Manyverse is a social application that allows for people to relay messages through friends, and discover new ones. Manyverse is part of a global open source messaging movement and ecosystem called Secure Scuttlebutt (often shortened to SSB). This network has all the features you would expect: posts, threads, likes, profiles, etc. Someone in need of such a tool can start using Manyverse (or any of the other tools that work with this same protocol), without any other technological dependencies or registering an account somewhere. There is no central registry, simply because it is not needed. Manyverse was created to allow users of smartphones to be part of the Secure Scuttlebutt network.

Manyverse works 'off-grid' as well as on a (local) network, so you can use it pretty much any way you want. And it can be used to convey sensitive messages, without leaving unnecessary traces or endangering the people carrying the message - by design they have no access to the messages of others. If you want, your message will never touch the internet unencrypted. Secure Scuttlebutt is meant as a different, human-centric social network, which acts more in line with how people should want to engage - rather than how they are expected and pushed to engage by companies. Unhappy with the social media you are surrounded with, or need a solution that allows you to communicate offline? Why not try and see if this more relaxed, human-size model fits better with your way of life?

Run by Manyverse

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 PET 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 825310.