Freenet’s Move to Social System

Freenet a “free software which lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish “freesites” (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums, without fear of censorship,” is now making a move toward censorship resistant social networking system.

Freenet, essentially is a decentralized hard drive, with cryptographically implemented input and output controls — a person could push contents into Freenet, and other person can retrieve. With clever use of these simple systems, now BBS (Bulletin Board System), social network, and blog sites are emerging.

A BBS on Freenet is nothing new — external software called Frost is quite functional BBS that uses Freenet infrastructure. However, it has its own problem. First, it is external software. User has to go to Frost’s site and download the software. While not difficult, it introduced extra burden on users’ side that they have to have this software to access to the system. Secondly, Frost is not very resistant to spamming.

Freenet’s new Freetalk integrates to Freenet interface, and will be ready to use when Freenet is available. (as long as it is enabled.) It works right on a browser.

Freetalk on Freenet

Combating against spam on Freenet is somewhat contradictory, as whole point of Freenet system is resist censorship. Therefore, Freetalk (and other items I cover in this article) uses scheme called Web of Trust. Web of Trust may sound familiar with one who has worked with OpenPGP softwares. It is essentially, trust system based on how peers trust others. With this system, while spam would be there, spammers will (inevitably) starting to receive low score, and can be filtered out. One thing to note is that Web of Trust system, unlike with OpenPGP, is pseudonym. A person can have multiple ID under Freenet’s Web of Trust, but origination of messages can be verified under this system.

Using this same basic system, there is a system called Sone (Freenet link) which offers Facebook/Twitter like system that allows users to have their own time lines. Visitors will be able to interact with posts by commenting and liking, just like on Facebook. While offered by third-party, it is implemented as Freenet plugin, which can be also used right on Freenet interface through the browser.

Sone

Blogging on Freenet, called Flog is not new, but there’s now a helper application on Freenet called FlogHelper. This allows you to setup Flog, as well as managing posts within. Visitor can reach through Freenet’s address. The picture below is a Flog by the developer of Freenet.

Flog by Toad

With those tools now available, Freenet is becoming true communication site, and will hopefully be providing censorship resistant communication, especially to countries like China where strong censorship is in place.

Social Network Analytics of Japan

Google Insights for Search reveals rather interesting fact about social network system’s in Japan.

Overall, Japanese social network scene is dominated by mixi, and Google Insights filtered to Japan do show that trend as well. (In world wide trend, mixi is nothing.)

Filtering the result to year to date 2009, it starting to reveal rather interesting fact.
The overall trend shows that mixi’s gradually losing its popularity, while Facebook is increasing, in Tokyo, Facebook already has surpassed mixi early June, and YTD average shows Facebook is already as strong as mixi. (and if this trend continues, by next month, Facebook will become most popular social network system in Tokyo.)

Tokyo’s shift in trend is unique, as even Okinawa, showing strong MySpace support than rest of Japan, although, mixi is still dominating the popularity there. (I speculate presence of US military base for high support of MySpace in Okinawa.) Okinawa’s overall trend has been following somewhat close to rest of Japan, but perhaps with Facebook and MySpace competing for shares.

Regional comparison for Facebook in major cities in Japan shows that overall popularity volume in Tokyo is much higher than rest of places. (and likewise, comparison with MySpace shows significance of MySpace in Okinawa.

So, it seems like, in Japan, many people are starting to migrate to something other than mixi, perhaps for the fact mixi’s more focus on mobile phone market (and especially, if they use carrier menu to access to mixi from their mobile phone, it won’t show up in Google Insights) as well as more push to Facebook from different sectors (for example, DSi support of photo upload to Facebook.) Somehow, this trend is showing in Tokyo drastically than in different places. This may be mean that there are more international relationship dynamic happening in Tokyo, requires more global communication. (mixi do not allow sign-up without Japanese mobile numbers now)

Policy Revision of mixi Starting Aug. 18

Looks like mixi‘s becoming anonymous social network site. There’s new policies effective August 18, among many other policy changes, they are adding following to the item 16 of the prohibited actions clause.

(16) Disclosure of a contact information of third-party or a self, which can be used to identify individual, including address, phone number, E-mail address, to the part of site that is viewable by public.

Notice by this, they are prohibiting disclosure of contact information about yourself. So, when did mixi become my babysitte

In Japan, Twittering by Candidates are Illegal During Their Election Campaign

Yes, you heard it right, in Japan, their cabinet council determined that twittering by candidates during their election campaign illegal under Japanese Public Election Law, which classifies twittering as “election campaign by texts or graphic.”

This sounds really insane, but it is already illegal for candidates to even update blogs during their election campaign.

Why? Because their law is so outdated that the law pretty much allows only limited method of election campaign. What are they? They are posters at the designated board, limited number of fliers and postcards, use of cars with speaker to announce their name, etc.

Other than that, they are pretty much restricted to do anything to promote themselves. They have this kind of regulation, because apparently, having those allowed grants them unfair advantages over other candidates.

So, no, if you are living in Japan and happen to get voting rights in Japan, don’t expect to find useful information on the net.