Messaging apps are now the first port-of-call for all communications between people. They are for many, the central point in their community. Even our parents and grandparents now are familiar with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Services like Telegram and Signal have also blown up out of the water promising a more private and secure form of messaging, as well as a host of features for community builders.
But there is a catch – these services are all centralized platforms. Your WhatsApp account and all its data belong to Facebook. The same is true with Signal, Telegram and Facebook Messenger. All of these platforms will promise you privacy and security, some more than others and as far as centralized messaging platforms go, Signal has offered the very best in privacy and security and been loyal to their word – but regardless of their efforts, a time may come where they have no choice but to bow to state requests of revealing your data.
So, while all these centralized messaging apps do exactly what they say on the tin and they work well, there is a need, particularly in a world where censorship is becoming so trendy, for a solution, a platform where its users’ data is private, secure and belongs to them. A place where communities can communicate freely, without fear of censorship or exposure.
Such a platform already exists, well to be more precise, such a protocol already exists.
Welcome to the Matrix Protocol.
The Matrix Protocol is a completely open standard. This means that all of the details you need to communicate with Matrix APIs are freely available.
Within this standard is all the information you need to create a service that is aimed towards decentralised and real-time communications. And this standard also guarantees interoperability with other Matrix services. This interoperability isn’t too dissimilar to what you will find in your bog-standard email exchange. The same sort of concept that allows you to send an email from a Hotmail account to a Gmail account.
The whole project itself is open-source so anyone is allowed to contribute and critique. This approach has fostered a very active community.
Federalisation allows for two separate deployments to communicate with one another. The Matrix Protocol allows for open federalisation. This means that anyone is allowed to deploy their own server and run it on the network. And all of these servers will be able to talk to one another.
Federalisation and decentralisation, in the context of Matrix, is what makes it such a powerful standard.
Unlike services such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Messenger, where you simply download their native application, the Matrix Protocol can be used on any application that has been developed to utilize the protocol. Currently, there are two main offerings, Element and Fluffy Cat.
The most feature rich is Element. Element has their application available on Windows, Linux, Android and iOS as well as a browser version.
Other applications utilizing the matrix protocol also exist, including Nio, NeoChat, Spectral, nheko Reborn, Fractal. And, the best thing is, if you are not happy with any of the current clients out there, you can just build your own – all the tools to do so are out there for free!
Because of the federalised nature of the Matrix Protocol, anyone can host their own Matrix server. This puts you in total control of your network. Maybe you want to just host a server for your community, but with no access to the wider world – with your own server you can do this, you are in total control.
To self-host you can simply use a PC at home or a cloud server. But if you really want to be in total control, the former is the ultimate method.
By hosting your own matrix server, using your own hardware you can be sure no one is tampering with your server. After all, cloud servers are centralized services which come with their own set of Terms & Conditions.
Element Matrix Services
Here at the People Empowerment Project, we chose to move away from Telegram and begin to build on the Matrix Protocol several months ago following increasing breaches in privacy, security and freedom of speech on Telegram.
While in the future we may host our own Matrix Server, for now we wanted all of this to be managed for us professionally, efficiently and with minimal friction. Element Matrix Services (EMS) are offering exactly that.
Initially, we are using Elements free open services, but for those wanting more control over their network, their paid services give you most of the benefits found by hosting your own matrix server, without the technical knowhow or hardware required.
Using the free open network, you can do individual chats just like any other service and even create large communities. Or join ones that interest you. All of this is completely free, so you can even try Matrix out before going all-in on it.
Using Matrix bridges, you can integrate other messaging platforms into your Matrix client. Currently supported and maintained bridges include, Twitter, Telegram, Discord, Whatsapp, Signal and many more.
Using Matrix Bridges makes shifting your community from older centralized platforms to the Matrix Protocol much more doable. It also provides a one-stop place for all your messaging apps, all inside your Matrix Client.
Video & Voice Messaging
Matrix allows for Voice and Video messaging natively and via plugins. These services are still not as seamless and efficient as centralized messaging applications. But the development of these services is rapidly progressing and improving every day. All the usual features are available: group chat; screen share; and so on.
It won’t be long before these features all function as smoothly as their mainstream centralized competition.
The Future of Messaging
While still rough around the edges and with a variety of friction points for onboarding, the Matrix Protocol certainly places itself at the forefront of innovation. It has filled a massive gap in the market and solved the serious growing issue of privacy and freedom of speech. It may take some time to fully replace traditional forms of online communication, but I believe it can and it will.
Join us now if you haven’t already by heading over to https://element.peopleempowermentproject.com
We look forward to seeing you there!