PublicSpaces Manifesto

Laurens de Knijff
Jun 28, 2018 · 3 min read

Our introduction

In 2018 — almost thirty years after the invention of the World Wide Web — many essential applications on the internet, while being indispensable tools in our lives as economic and social citizens, have turned into vehicles for political control and economic profit. In these essential applications, citizens are no longer subjects, but objects.

We share a common view that an alternative is necessary and are reimagining the internet as a public space.

Therefore we formed a coalition to design a new platform for social interaction, where users are not viewed as exploitable assets or data sources, but as equal partners that share a common public interest.

We, as founding partners, call this coalition PublicSpaces.

Our goal

PublicSpaces is committed to providing a digital social platform that serves the common interest and does not seek profit.

Our values & principles


  • the platform is equally accessible to any person, network or organization.
  • the platform operates independently from any government, commercial or particular political influence.


  • the used technology is fully accessible and reviewable.
  • governance of the platform will be fully reviewable.


  • users are verified and provenance of content can be fully disclosed.
  • the platform offers the highest possible guarantee of protection of data — both of content and users.
  • the platform does not hold or own any personal data of its users.
  • governance of the platform is bound by the founding statutes that guarantee independence of commercial and political influences.


  • users are not products — the wellbeing and empowerment of users will always be the primary concern.
  • users have full control over their personal data, their content and interactions.


  • the platform employs ‘privacy by design’ as a basic design principle.
  • the platform uses the tenets of the ‘Time well spent’ movement as guidelines for any implementation.

Our guarantees

In our view, founded in our values and principles, the internet should house truly public spaces, where specific guarantees can be extended to all those who enter these public spaces:

  1. User data are safe and can never be provided to third parties.
  2. Users will always have complete access to all their data.
  3. No other user data than strictly necessary for the operation of the platform will be gathered and stored.
  4. Provenance of content will always be guaranteed, thus making it a lot harder for fake news to emerge.
  5. Not one single party will ever have complete control over the user experience or governance of PublicSpaces; we will aim for a distributed control mechanism
  6. PublicSpaces serves no political or commercial goal other than is stated in the public record for all to see.

Our ask

We invite all parties who endorse our values, principles and guarantees and are willing to co-design PublicSpaces, to join the coalition as a participating partner.

Our founding coalition

  • DDW (Dutch Design Week Eindhoven)
  • EYE Filmmuseum (National Museum for Film)
  • Holland Festival
  • IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam)
  • Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands)
  • IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam)
  • Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision)
  • NFF (Netherlands Film Festival)
  • Pakhuis de Zwijger
  • VPRO, BNN-VARA & EO (Dutch Public Broadcasting Organizations)
  • Waag — Technology & Society
  • Datong (a collectivized social network)
  • Wikimedia Netherlands

Our board

The participating partners in PublicSpaces are represented by the PublicSpaces Foundation. The board consists of representatives of the founding partners.

Amsterdam, June 28th, 2018


Committed to providing a digital social platform that…

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