48 Hours Later Vox Day Pulls the Plug on SocialGalactic

Announced only two days ago, Vox Day’s Twitter substitute SocialGalactic is already being shut down (“Another curve ball” [Internet Archive link].) The team that works on InfoGalactic, his alt-right revision of the Wikipedia, had joined forces with OneWay to build SocialGalactic on Fediway’s distributed network engine. The platform claimed 2,500 users after the first 48 hours of operation.

Vox Day did not go into detail about the decision. However, in comment a few hours after the initial announcement he had written —

Note that if you’re in the EU, you’re not going to be able to use it until we can resolve the GDPR compliance issue. 

The General Data Protection Regulation  (“GDPR”) regulates data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA), and also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.

Since Vox himself lives in the EU, such a ban would be no small problem for him.

Day’s Finnish confederate Markku Koponen wrote some more revealing comments. When someone asked how soon people in the EU could gain access he wrote —

Not at this point. Could be never. We’ll have to have a lawyer take a serious look at GDPR. Then we’ll know what it takes, do we need data protection officers, and so forth. There is a chance that the simplest thing is to just block EU altogether (I will of course have backdoor access). We shall see.

…Yes, but that notice is only a small part of it. Blogger [where Vox Day’s blog is hosted] can afford to have the bureaucracy required to allow access, and just nag you with the notice. You still need to comply with the entirety of GDPR and it’s so complicated that there are companies whose whole business is to explain it to you.

…No, I’m just a moderator. But since I’ve had to think about GDPR myself, I tipped Vox off that this is going to be an obvious attack vector for SJWs and it’s best to plug it right from the start.

…There’s always going to be some Soros-paid troll who will spend all his waking hours trying to find some small mistake somewhere in GDPR compliance. Better to just shut it down.

Being unprepared to comply with EU rules may have been the new platform’s Achilles heel.

29 thoughts on “48 Hours Later Vox Day Pulls the Plug on SocialGalactic

  1. GDPR is only a problem if, as you say, you’re storing personal data. If you’re not storing any as Green Man or File 770 don’t, it’s not a problem,. So why was he doing this? Building a network of followers doesn’t required this data.

    It’s very early here and I can’t sleep. I really, really hope they figure out what how to do something to ease the pain in that elbow.

  2. Personal data can be anything that identifies anyone. Even a nick can be personal data if it in any way can be used to identify someone. Already there, you need to specify requirements on how nicks are created for all users. Add that he wants to let people pay for the use of the service, which I guess means a connection to peoples real names. Even more personal data.

  3. I figure any platform handling ongoing user accounts is going to have to store a whole bunch of personal data. Just identifying your account with your phone, or getting a reset-password by email or SMS, or asking you your age and birthday, is already personal data aplenty.

  4. Yeah he’s charging subscriptions for the service. If he does that, he must be GDPR compliant. Even if he moves the actual severs outside of the European Community, even one community member resident in the European Community makes him liable. Poor Vox, he’s screwed.

  5. Cat Eldridge: GDPR is only a problem if, as you say, you’re storing personal data. If you’re not storing any as Green Man or File 770 don’t, it’s not a problem.

    Green Man and File 770 are both WordPress blogs. They store nyms, e-mail addresses, and IP addresses. The reason neither you nor Mike has had to deal with GDPR is because WordPress has built in the terms & conditions, disclaimers, changes to T&C e-mail notifications, and “click to accept cookies” nag boxes for compliance with GDPR for you.

    VD’s problem is that he didn’t have Big Organized Well-Known Corporation™ taking care of that for him, and nobody on his project was bright enough to realize that they needed to build it in.

  6. JJ says Green Man and File 770 are both WordPress blogs. They store nyms, e-mail addresses, and IP addresses. The reason neither you nor Mike has had to deal with GDPR is because WordPress has built in the terms & conditions, disclaimers, changes to T&C e-mail notifications, and “click to accept cookies” nag boxes for compliance with GDPR for you.

    How so? I checked with some of my editors and reviewers just now, and none of them have ever gotten any opt in notifications regarding GDPR from WordPress. Nor have I as owner of many sites over the years.

  7. I registered an account. It just asked for the same basic info as I use to register on any site. Im specifying almost as much info just to comment on the blog! I dont see how Automattic’s deep legal pockets protect me, a private blog owner with my own privately hosted wordpress install, from violating GDPR compliance. Compliance isnt a line of code, its policy of your organization. Its equally plausible that they are blaming GDPR as a proxy for globalism or something to cover for some other issue. Maybe technical?

  8. Vox makes a good point, though.
    Lots of people look at things like the GDPR and think, “I can ignore it because I”m small,” on the theory that the regulation is really only intended for big sites like Facebook. So, yeah, it’s big and complex, but unless your organization is big, you can just ignore it. Or so the theory goes.
    The fly in the ointment is that if you’re at all controversial, it provides a way for your enemies to use the government as a weapon against you. They just need to open an account on your site and then file a complaint against you with the regulator. Or get a bunch of their friends to do the same thing.
    The risk in a GDPR violation is a 20-million euro fine. I think most folks wouldn’t be willing to take even a 1% chance of such a thing. That makes it a powerful tool to stifle unpopular sites, regardless of their politics.

  9. When the deadline arrived I got notifications about GDPR compliance from my ISP, rather than WordPress, but yes, that work’s been done for me already.

  10. By way of contrast, VD’s wikipedia clone has member accounts (for editing) which includes usernames, passwords and I assume email addresses & IP addreses. It’s run by the same people (as far as I can tell) as his failed social media platform. It’s run (as far as I can tell) as open source software on servers owned or controlled by VD’s company (i.e. this is not like using Blogger/Google or WordPress/Automatic to provide compliance).

    I don’t know if it is GDPR compliant but unlike the social media platform they don’t seem worried that it is not GDPR compliant.

  11. *kof kof* Ahem.

    This is a horrendously important issue of interest to all small-audience, shallow-pocket organizations, no matter their political, social, or religious stance. It …

    pfft pfft pfft … krchkrchkrch

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Sorry, couldn’t do that with a straight face.

  12. So you’re saying…. yet another cunningly cunning plan from what-his-face’s has fallen splat! flat on its face?

    Oh, if only the universe were big enough to contain my shock at this unforeseeable development.

  13. John Adkins says Wait, George Soros is paying folks to troll Vox? How much and where do I apply ?

    What sort of deluded mind does it take to believe that Soros would even know that that someone like Vox exist let alone care about what he’s doing? Seriously do these folk really believe this sort of shit?

  14. Even if you don’t like Vox Day, this means that anyone of any political or religous viewpoint would have the same problems. This leaves the field clear for the big boys, the monopolists, like Facebook.

    Ayn Rand got a few things right long ago. She said that big business loved big govt because they could handle it fine and use it to crush more nimble smaller competitors. She really pissed off big business. This is just one example.

  15. Competence? Obviously missing.

    This is my non-shocked face, normally his grifts last longer before collapsing in a heap. I’m not sure how you can be online in the EU and not be aware of GDPR.

  16. I’m a EU citizen and hate GDPR. It’s a typical case of a well-intentioned law that completely overreached its purpose and actually strengthened the very internet giants like Facebook, Twitter, etc… whose influence it was supposed to curb. The only good thing to come out of it was that I got a flurry of requests to translate website privacy policies out of it.

    GDPR also harms my access to information, because many websites simply decide to block all EU citizens rather than deal with GDPR. This includes fairly big newspaper websites like the Los Angeles Times or the Chicago Tribune, but also local newspapers and even cooking websites (I lost one of my favourite recipe websites to GDPR) and the Canadian Crime Writers Association, even though the chances of anybody going after a Cajun cooking website or the Canadian Crime Writers Association for GDPR violations are nil.

    That said, as a website operator, you should definitely make a good faith effort to be GDPR compliant, even if your site is small and it’s unlikely that anybody will come after you. All my websites have a privacy policy and also a contact address for GDPR inquiries and requests. Coincidentally, I did get a GDPR related deletion request at the Speculative Fiction Showcase of all things, when someone whose books we’d featured several years before suddenly wanted to erase all traces that they had ever been an author. I politely responded to that person and deleted the posts featuring their books.

    As for Vox Day and his Twitter replacement, yes, GDPR compliance is more of an issue, if you’re not using WordPress, Blogger or another established system. But nonetheless, I suspect “We can’t do this because of GDPR” is an excuse.

  17. eclecticmn: Even if you don’t like Vox Day, this means that anyone of any political or religous viewpoint would have the same problems. This leaves the field clear for the big boys, the monopolists, like Facebook.

    No, it means that anyone, big or small, who wants to roll out a system which requires users to enter personal data must have their ducks in a row and either design the system to comply with existing legal requirements, or implement their system inside an existing framework which already has compliance built in.

    “Has his ducks in a row” has never been an accurate descriptor for VD.

  18. Just about every single one of you commenters aware of the EU rules and failure to comply would have spent a fraction of an instant bleating to the EU enforcement arm to line vox up with a 20,000,000 euro fine for non-compliance and you all know it.

    He made an effort to create something new and you all leaped out him red in tooth and claw to tear him to pieces. You can imagine my surprise.

  19. Curtis: Why would he be getting fined? Are you aware of some reason Vox is incapable of creating a social media platform that follows the EU rules like others do?

  20. Curtis: He made an effort to create something new and you all leaped out him red in tooth and claw to tear him to pieces.

    Oh, Curtis, Curtis. Dude. You really haven’t thought that through, have you? 😀

    Sure, a lot of the people here, including me, enjoy watching VD make an ass out of himself over and over again and laughing at him, after the horrible 2.5 year attack he launched against Worldcon members and the Hugo Awards. It’s very understandably human to enjoy watching someone who has behaved so horribly to so many people get taken down a notch.

    But I also suspect that a lot of people here, like me, were quite happy to see all the Nazis, racists, misogynists, and homophobes toddling over to their own little playpen, leaving us adults to get on with things on Twitter and Facebook. Why would anyone who is sick of the bullshit spouted by VD and his brain-dead minions want to discourage or prevent them from going off to their own little island?

    Presuming that the reasons he’s given are real (and with VD, that’s always strongly in doubt), if anyone reported him, it’s probably the same trolls and haters he enjoys weaponizing against others. Those vermin cheerfully go after anyone and everyone, regardless of political or ideological bent.

  21. I pretty much agree with @Cora here, though I wouldn’t say that I hate GDPR. Rather the trouble was the media-advertising complex that had come to dominate most of the Internet, and now is desperately trying to continue with its former practices. So we have two bureucratical behemoths (EU and the media-advertising complex) in an arms race, and when the giants fight everyone else loses.

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