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Why Followers Forever Will Never Be Free

Followers Forever was built for people who use social media. But unlike social media, Followers Forever will never be free.

No website or application is ever free. It cost dearly to put something on the Internet. There are monetary costs like domain name registration and hosting. These infrastructure costs can be enormous, but even when they are not, they are an expense that never goes away.

With something like Followers Forever there are also labor costs. It’s a lot of work to conceive of something new, to build it and put it out in the world, to reach out to people and tell them about it, and to listen and make changes based on what you learn. This is difficult, time-consuming work done by experts with decades of experience. It costs dearly.

Claudia and I are not in the position to absorb those costs. It is not sustainable. We need to share the costs. But we are extremely selective about who we share it with, for good reason.

The person who pays for something has control over it.

In the extreme case, they can simply stop paying. Without someone to pay the costs, a project like Followers Forever will simply cease to exist. It rarely comes to that. People and projects bend to the will of their patrons quickly, consistently, and usually without any overt threats.

So the question is not “Who should pay to create and maintain Followers Forever?” The question is, “Who should have control over Followers Forever?” And the answer is simple: you, the users.

Social media companies are paid for, and thus controlled by, their investors and advertisers. The interests of their investors and the advertisers are given more weight than the interests of their users. Everything you hate about social media is caused by putting the interests of investors and advertisers ahead of the interests of you, the users.1

Followers Forever puts the interest of the users first, which is why the users must be the ones in control, and why Followers Forever will never be free.

  1. Cory Doctorow laid out the impact of this, a process he calls “enshittification”, first coined in his essay Social Quitting. I put it in an even broader context in my essay The AI Apocalypse Started Decades Ago