If you want to be a member of Mozilla.Social, Mozilla’s new Mastodon instance, you’re not allowed to harass other users. You’re also not allowed to use derogatory language about gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, age, ability, or any other “physical, social or cultural attributes or classifications.” You can’t spread misinformation and disinformation, either. Or impersonate someone. Some of these are normal policies, some are unusually heavy-handed, and they’re all hard to litigate. But Mozilla’s stance is pretty simple and extremely unusual in the social media universe: if it’s debatable, it’s gone.
“We’re not going to advertise that we’re some kind of neutral platform,” says Steve Teixeira, Mozilla’s chief product officer. He says too many platforms try to find a middle ground between, say, people who want to do others harm and people that don’t, when in reality, there is no middle ground at all. “You have to land on the side of people who don’t want to do harm to others.” By not pretending to be neutral and not claiming to be the free speech wing of anything, Mozilla hopes it can be much more active in making Mastodon a good place to be.