I just learned about Front Porch Forum, a seemingly ethical platform (see this article about FPF) that is mainly only available in Vermont. It’s in the same space as NextDoor, a VC-funded social media startup that focuses on local neighborhoods.
FPF started long enough ago and got enough foothold, that it seems unlikely for Facebook or Nextdoor to take over in Vermont unless they really declared war and went all-out. By contrast, it would be much harder (though not impossible maybe) for FPF to get to be a primary tool in places that now use FB or ND primarily.
I’m not sure what I think, I’m just bringing up this general topic. The network-effects here are really interesting.
Of course, I really wish my town in Oregon had FPF or similar. ND is used here somewhat widely, but I don’t trust their VC business model in the long-run nor do I like the particulars of their tooling (they used to have a classifieds section and then removed it because it was competing with their paid-ads business). The most active online forum here is on Facebook, and the behavior there is everything you’d expect from Facebook and not truly something focused on building human, real-world connections between neighbors.
How deterministic are these arbitrary network effects of what platforms get used by who first etc.? Or how much do people think these things really can vary and shift over time?