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.
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.
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.
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.