Since the mid-2010s, the Japanese media fandom, whether anime or manga, has moved away from blogs and forum communities to centralized platforms like Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and Instagram.
However, in 2023, we are paying a massive price in abandoning user-run spaces and moving everything to centralized platforms. These platform owners realized they had to make money. This is because central banks worldwide are increasing interest rates and tightening the money supply to fight inflation. As a result, these platform owners realized the venture capital funding they receive has dried up, and now they must turn a profit. In fact, no centralized social planforms ever really turn a consistent profit that can sustain themselves.
So why have we got to this point?
I noticed the shift towards centralized platforms as the number of comments I received throughout the years plummeted after 2015. Moreover, this was around the same time that activity on forums like AnimeSuki declined, and people started giving up on blogging in general. After all, talking about anime on places like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit is more convenient; who wouldn’t want to follow everyone in one place.
However, this is a trap. Centralized platforms entice users by being good to them to attract them to the platform in the hopes that they can monetize them later. If you heard the phrase “if you are not paying, you are the product,” this is how these platforms work. They do this by doing intrusive tracking. Advertisements or putting features that used to be free behind paywalls after the growth stage. This is part of the process, as Cory Doctorow coins “enshittification” in his article, Tiktok’s enshittification.
What is enshittification? It’s defined as this by Cory:
- They are good to their users at first.
- Next, they abuse their users.
- After abusing their users, they improve things for business customers (e.g., Influencers, businesses, celebrities, etc.
- They abuse those business customers and claw back all the value for themselves.
- Lastly, the platform dies.
If this sounds familiar, it is. Just look at Twitter and Reddit. They follow the same pattern. They were good to their users before making detrimental changes while treating their business well until they wanted their value. Just look no further to Elon Musk buying Twitter and start putting features behind a paywall.
In the meantime, hate speech, illegal content, and harassment have become widespread. That is when features start going behind a paywall, requiring Twitter Blue and putting the API used in many Twitter apps and plugins behind an expensive paywall. Users noticed their engagement plummeted as their posts weren’t getting as many impressions as those who paid for Twitter Blue. Also, recently, Elon started blocking unregistered users’ access from Tweets and profiles before it went down due to Twitter not paying their Google Cloud contract.
Another instance of enshittification is with Reddit. You might have heard that Reddit is making API changes. That is, pricing out third-party apps. If you are aware, many subreddits went dark starting June 12th for 48 hours until Reddit complied with their demands. Of course, Reddit’s CEO brushed their demands and thought it would blow over.
When subreddits started to make that blackout indefinitely, the Reddit admins started to threaten subreddits to open up or have their mods removed. This caused users to start deleting their posts and leaving their site, while some changed rules to make it about something else in protest and make Reddit less useful.
What are the implications of enshittification?
As expected, communities that use these big platforms are significantly affected by the enshittification. By making the service worse until it dies, it cuts off users entirely from the community they are in. Since these platforms make it impossible to leave the platform, people are less likely to migrate to another platform. That is because their friends aren’t there unless one wants to start over. When a platform collapses, the user loses their connections if they didn’t migrate over. This can hurt many communities built on these social platforms.
I decided to ditch Twitter back in December after Elon banned third-party links and rescinded it. I knew things would get worse because I didn’t want to share my content or create content on a site that allows hate speech. Sure, I was cut off by my mutuals, who didn’t want to move yet, but I made many new connections simultaneously. Still, I’m frustrated that a good chunk hasn’t come to Mastodon/Fediverse. But I’m glad that I made this decision as Twitter eventually heads to its doom.
So, why join the Fediverse, especially Sakurajima?
The good thing is that the Fediverse, powered by ActivityPub, is an open and decentralized social network. You might have heard about Mastodon, one of the famous alternatives to Twitter. Also, Calckey is another alternative to Mastodon that does the same thing but has more features. The Fediverse is not just microblogging. There is Pixelfed, used for sharing photos/pictures, PeerTube for videos, and Lemmy/KBin, an alternative to Reddit.
So, why should you join Sakurajima? Sakurajima is a project I am working on with some volunteers helping with moderation and the backend. My efforts are finally going to fruition as centralized platforms become enshittified. It’s meant as a platform for Japanese media creators and fans to share their work and talk about Japanese media or anything. This consists of a Mastodon and Calckey instance and an internet forum. The idea is to have a modern reboot of AnimeBlogger.net, not just focusing on blogging, but videos, art, podcasts, etc.
You can find more about it at blog.sakurajima.moe.
What are the differences between Mastodon and Calckey? Mastodon is far more stable but lacks features like quote posts and full-text search. Some may find the interface a bit harder to use. Thankfully, there are many clients, such as Elk, which gives the feeling of Twitter, along with clients like Ivory on iOS/Mac. Not only that, you can now automatically share your posts on WordPress.
Calckey is a younger platform, which is a fork of Misskey, which is created by a Japanese developer, which is basically a Twitter-like social networking software. Calckey has many features that Twitter has, such as Quote posts, full-text search, groups, and so much more. The interface also resembles Twitter at a glance. We recommend Calckey if you primarily use the web interface when you use Twitter. While Calckey has some Mastodon API compatibility and may work with some clients, many clients/apps do not work with it yet.
Either way, I recommend Sakurajima over a big instance like Mastodon Social/Online. Your content and discussion will get out to the other “anime” themed server, Urusai Social, meaning your content will get out to those users that might be most interested in it. However, they do not allow self-promotion on their server, unlike ours. Also, we have better moderation against hate speech and harassment, ensuring a pleasant experience for all users.
If you are reluctant to join the Fediverse, don’t. Many users like frustrated about losing their social graph because of enshittification. We had enough, and the Fediverse is the answer for the reasons above.
Sure, there is Bluesky, but it’s still owned by a corporate entity and not decentralized. While you can own your data if you run your own server, they can enshittify the service by forcing ads or degrading it. Since nobody owns the ActivityPub, protocol except for the W3C, a non-profit that creates web standards, the Fediverse will never get enshittified. If a server takes a turn for the worse, you can simply move your social graph and, with some software (like Calckey), your posts.
If you do join, bring your friends along. The Fediverse is fun if they also participate, and you will be less likely to leave. After all, the experience on centralized platforms will only worsen, and the Fediverse is the only answer for social networking. This goes with going back to internet forum communities and starting your anime blog. After all, corporations cannot control platforms an individual or a collective created, although there is always the human factor.
With that, what are your thoughts? If you need help, you can share it in the comments.
You can find our Mastodon server at Sakurajima.moe and our Calckey instance at Sakurajima.social. You just need to create one account on either server, you can start following and interact with any user with the account you created.
PSA: Start Thinking about Alternatives to Twitter and Migrate Now, Here’s Why – More about ActivityPub and Mastodon.
Creating Sakurajima Social, Another Way to Bring Anime Bloggers/Fans from Twitter to the Fediverse – More on what Calckey is.
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