The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information.

615 of 646

MediaGoblin: Decentralized Social Media Publishing for Everyone

MediaGoblin is a decentralized and social media publishing system focused on user freedom. It supports many different media types; images, video, audio, 3D models and more. Instead of needing a seperate service for each one (YouTube+Flickr+SoundCloud+Vimeo+Thingiverse), each controlled by a specific company with a walled-off network, when you use MediaGoblin you need just one account -- and it's yours to control. For maximum independence you can host your own network node, or just create an account on a node you trust. It archives all your media, and lets you share with as large or small a circle as you wish. MediaGoblin is free and open source software, making it the censorship- and surveillance-resistant solution for global media sharing.

Photo of Chris Webber

Written by

MediaGoblin is a highly extensible free and open source media publishing system with a great plug-in architecture. That means that its evolution can be user-driven, allowing it to be adapted to a great variety of user purposes. Nodes focused on citizen journalism may have different requirements than music publishing nodes. If a person, project or business using MediaGoblin needs an extra feature, they will always have the right to extend the software or hire someone to extend it for them -- as long as they contribute the code back to the community they build on.

This extensibility is already evident in the areas of theming, media types, and plugins providing additional features like embedded OpenStreetMap support, and flexible authentication options including OpenID and Persona. MediaGoblin's codebase and legal tooling makes it ideal for extension, and because it's written in Python, it's accessible and easy to modify.

The internet is becoming a fragmentary landscape of competing but incompatible services, with business models commonly designed to exploit and endanger users rather than aid them. But it doesn't have to be that way. MediaGoblin is designed for federation, the way email is. Federation helps people talk across different systems. Imagine if every email user of could only email other Blahoogle users, and needed another subscription at CatMail to talk to users there. That is what is happening across the media-rich social web. MediaGoblin doesn't want to see the internet become a hopelessly fractured and chaotic space where everyone has to keep up with a zillion services and networks, always chasing their feature and social needs. These services are not prioritizing the open standards and user rights that protect the internet itself while keeping it an egalitarian and safe zone to live in. Rather than cultivate its own private commercial fiefdom that relies on preventing interoperability with everyone else, MediaGoblin builds tools and communities that benefit everyone. MediaGoblin is a powerful framework that people can build on, benefit from, and share the benefits back to the common good. We don't think people should have to trade their freedom for usability. MediaGoblin is designed to offer people the same kind of social media sharing features they find in their existing services, but better: simpler, more powerful, connecting a global user base, growing with every bit of user investment, and all while protecting user freedom.

The call for an independent media publishing system that resists censorship grows urgent as we see increasing cases of the centralized commercial services exerting censorship and restricting content -- on behalf of their own interests, and in collusion with regional governments. The silos that are the main current points of media sharing are not only vulnerable to attacks on free speech, but also hamper important grassroots economic activity by privileging the interests of a tiny minority over those of most of the world. As more and more people conduct their lives online, the accumulation and commodification of granular personal data presents a tremendous encroachment on privacy, security and anonymity -- not just the hallmarks of free society, but even the preconditions of our freedom of thought.

In ONE sentence, tell us about your project to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation.

MediaGoblin builds a decentralized, social media publishing system, and a set of tools any other project can use to be social AND protect user freedom on the internet.

Who will benefit from what you propose? What have you observed that makes you think that?

Media authors -- whether artists, journalists, individual users or organizations -- gain an innovative publishing system without censorship, centralized surveillance, or corporate monopoly, on a social platform the user can customize and control. In place of being locked into centralized and vulnerable corporate media silos, users gain the enormous benefit of a world-wide independent media sharing network that can be extended to defy even national and language boundaries.

What progress have you made so far?

After one year of crowdfunded development, MediaGoblin has issued 5 major releases and built the groundwork of an ambitious system that could reverse the trend of fragmentation into proprietary media silos, and empower the future of user-driven media communications on the web. Its active community of over 75 volunteers need to be augmented by full-time developers in order to implement the next key targets of MediaGoblin's roadmap such as federation and private media sharing. MediaGoblin would greatly benefit from more resources and is working hard to become a self-sustaining project, having launched successful community-funded crowdfunding campaigns while providing complete financial transparency related to the expenditure of those funds.

What would be a successful outcome for your idea or project?

MediaGoblin's success can be measured by the following criteria being met: complete and usable decentralized/federated media publishing software, the presence of well-functioning privacy features and private sharing, and growing public adoption with a multitude of MediaGoblin nodes.

Who is on your team, and what are their relevant experiences or skills?

Christopher Allan Webber is lead developer of the MediaGoblin project and provides the technical vision of the project, as well as the goblin drawings. He previously has worked as tech lead at Creative Commons and began development of Miro Community at the Participatory Culture Founation. Deb Nicholson is commmunity manager and additionally handles much of our communication. She has a background in social justice, currently works at the Open Invention Network, and previously worked for the Free Software Foundation. We also have a team of over 75 contributors from around the world that do everything from coding features to graphic design to documentation to translations.


Madison, WI, USA
24k 27 94



MediaGoblin's final submission to the Knight News Challenge, including Q&A responses


Join the conversation:

Photo of jamesdon

you can try the one on its really good :)
i tried it my self

View all comments