Secure Scuttlebutt

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Secure Scuttlebutt
Original author(s)Dominic Tarr[1]
Developer(s)Secure Scuttlebutt Consortium[2]
Initial release11 May 2014; 9 years ago (2014-05-11)
Written inJavaScript
Operating systemmacOS, Linux, Windows
Available inEnglish
TypeDistributed social network, protocol, secure communication
LicenseMIT license Edit this at Wikidata

Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB) is a peer-to peer communication protocol, mesh network, and self-hosted social media ecosystem.[3][4] Each user hosts their own content and the content of the peers they follow, which provides fault tolerance and eventual consistency.[5] Messages are digitally signed and added to an append-only list of messages published by an author.[6] SSB is primarily used for implementing distributed social networks, and utilizes cryptography to assure that content remains unforged as it is propagated through the network.[7][8]

In contrast to the major corporate social media platforms, user data and content on Secure Scuttlebutt is not monetized, there are no software design decisions being made in order to maximize user engagement or boost marketing metrics, and there is no paid advertising.[9] According to Forbes, "Scuttlebutt itself isn't supported by venture capital. Instead ... Scuttlebutt is backed by grants that helped jump-start the process ... [and] there are now hundreds of users who personally donate to the cause and an estimated 30,000 people using one of at least six social networks on the protocol".[10]


SSB was created by Dominic Tarr in 2014 as part of experimental development in alternative databases and distributed systems.[citation needed] Tarr lived on a sailboat with unreliable internet connection, and became interested in creating an offline-friendly secure gossip protocol for social networking.[6][11] The word scuttlebutt is slang for "water-cooler gossip" among sailors. SSB gained popularity on the wave of privacy controversies raising against the traditional social media.[12][13]


Secure Scuttlebutt operates as a database of immutable append-only feeds, which allows resilient replication over the Internet, local area networks, and sneakernets. Messages are hashed with SHA256 and verified with an Ed25519 signature; this makes it impossible to forge a message without the private key of the author.[14] Users only download messages from peers that they follow (and optionally friends of friends), which prevents harassment and spam. This makes the network invite-only, meaning that new peers who join the network aren't visible until someone follows them.[15][16]

User content in SSB is organized as an append-only sequence of immutable messages, where messages cryptographically sign adjacent messages for the purpose of guaranteeing unforgeabilitity of the sequences as they are replicated to other peers. SSB peers exchange asymmetric keys and establish authenticated connections between each other using an Authenticated Key Exchange protocol, Secret Handshake.[17][12]

Applications and documentation[edit]

The reference implementation was written using Node.js, as code that runs on a JavaScript engine.[18] There are active implementation efforts in the Go programming language, as well as in Python, and Rust.[19][20][21] Documentation for these implementations can be found at the official SSB development site.

Many independent applications have been implemented on SSB, including a social network, music sharing, chess, a Git subsystem, and an npm registry.[22][23][24][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Initial commit". GitHub. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Secure Scuttlebutt Consortium". GitHub. 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  3. ^ Tarr, Dominic; Lavoie, Erick; Meyer, Aljoscha; Tschudin, Christian (September 2019). "Secure Scuttlebutt: An Identity-Centric Protocol for Subjective and Decentralized Applications". Proceedings of the 6th ACM Conference on Information-Centric Networking. ICN '19. pp. 1–11. doi:10.1145/3357150.3357396. ISBN 9781450369701.
  4. ^ "Dweb: Social Feeds with Secure Scuttlebutt – Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog". Mozilla Hacks – the Web developer blog. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Scuttlebutt Protocol Guide". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b Bogost, Ian (22 May 2017). "The Nomad Who's Exploding the Internet Into Pieces". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Introduction · GitBook". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  8. ^ "In The Mesh - Scuttlebutt, A Decentralized Alternative To Facebook". In the Mesh. 19 April 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  9. ^ Mannell, Kate; Smith, Eden T. (14 September 2022). "It's hard to imagine better social media alternatives, but Scuttlebutt shows change is possible". The Conversation. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  10. ^ del Castillo, Michael (11 September 2022). "Jack Dorsey's Former Boss Is Building A Decentralized Twitter". Forbes. Archived from the original on 15 October 2022. Retrieved 15 October 2022.
  11. ^ Anadiotis, George. "Manyverse and Scuttlebutt: a human-centric technology stack for social applications". ZDNet. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Secure Scuttlebutt - Scuttlebot". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Open-source alternative to Facebook called Scuttlebutt gaining prominence". Facebook Collapse. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  14. ^ Tschudin, Christian F. (May 2019). "A Broadcast-Only Communication ModelBased on Replicated Append-Only Logs" (PDF). ACM Computer Communication Review. 49 (2): 37–43. doi:10.1145/3336937.3336943. S2CID 167217579.
  15. ^ "Getting Started with Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB) » Miguel Mota | Software Developer". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  16. ^ Ryabitsev, Konstantin (5 July 2019). "Patches carved into developer sigchains". Konstantin Ryabitsev. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  17. ^ Tarr, Dominic. "Designing a Secret Handshake: Authenticated Key Exchange as a Capability System" (PDF). GitHub. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  18. ^ The gossip and replication server for Secure Scuttlebutt: a distributed social network, Secure Scuttlebutt Consortium, 16 July 2019, retrieved 16 July 2019
  19. ^ A full-stack implementation of secure-scuttlebutt using the Go programming language., cryptoscope, 15 July 2019, retrieved 16 July 2019
  20. ^ Ferreira, Pedro (14 June 2019), Secure Scuttlebutt protocol suite implementation in Python: pferreir/pyssb, retrieved 16 July 2019
  21. ^ meta information about the Sunrise Choir, Sunrise Choir, 18 June 2019, retrieved 16 July 2019
  22. ^ "Applications · GitBook". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  23. ^ "André Staltz - An off-grid social network". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  24. ^ noffle (3 July 2019), Installing & using npm with secure scuttlebutt, retrieved 16 July 2019
  25. ^ "Whitepaper In Four Minutes - Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB)". Retrieved 16 July 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]