Session: Private groups on the Fediverse (limited access, self moderated, like Facebook private groups)


Convener: narF (@narF@mstdn.ca)

Participants who chose to record their names here:

  • Ryan Barrett (@snarfed.org@snarfed.org)

  • Cameron Whiting (@risottobias@tech.lgbt) and @bivouacwiki@tech.lgbt (wiki/voting/groups)

  • Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden@mas.to)

  • James Marshall (@jamesmarshall@sfba.social)

  • Jordan Frank (jwf@cybervillains.com) (Meta)


Specification already in progress here:

Problem is FB makes it too easy

  • low friction private interest based groups (e.g. a gym group or whatever)

Definition of a “private” group

  • private group, membership list private

  • invite only

  • Easy to create a group (no need to have technical knowledge and setup a server)

  • No need to create a new account to join a group

  • First iteration doesn’t need end-to-end encryption (like “direct messages” on Mastodon that can be read by admins. We can add encryption later)

  • ephemeral / unnamed groups in telegram vs public groups with named handles

  • matrix rooms vs facebook private posting

  • threat model of private groups vs these matrix rooms that are invite only

    • e.g. right now we can focus on the matrix named room stuff

    • getting to E2EE / Sup based groups would be something for later

  • invites via the pixelfed/mastodon oauth method to easily create new accounts on new software, or invite someone from a previous software

  • tangent:

    • low friction oauth signins from Facebook / Twitter / Bluesky

    • the onboarding process for threads from facebook is a good revelation for like, friends list importing / inviting like a google/facebook export

Existing partial solutions:

  • Friendica UX could use improvement

  • Firefish (previously Calckey) has groups but they’re different from ephemeral groups. They look like a group chat.

  • Mobilizon has groups but functionality is very limited. One positive thing: They have the concept of personas. A user can have muliple personas, ex: one with their real name and one with a nickname, to separate their activity (ex: I don’t want my parents to see that I’m in a LGBT group)

Just because there exists prior art could mean many things:

  • we like this and want to extend it

  • we want something different than this

  • and we can point to the specific differences we’re after

Links that were dropped in the chat: