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Shoni Town serves people who live and/or work in and around Shaughnessy Village, a multicultural and dense neighborhood located in downtown west Montreal. The village is east of Atwater Street and west of Guy, between the highway and the mountain.

Most of us in the neighborhood use apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook (all owned by US company Meta), WeChat (owned by Chinese company Tencent) and Telegram (owned by two secretive billionaire brothers from Russian origin) to talk to our friends and family, learn about what is happening in the world and in our city, and just relax looking at pictures of cats. But these corporate services, and others, spy on us; they sell the information they get about us to advertisers, governments and anyone who can pay. These apps are designed to make us dependent on them,

Shoni Town runs with Hometown, a modified version of Mastodon, which some may already be familiar with. The server operator lives in the neighborhood (and if you like this platform, you can help him pay the bills). There’s no algorithm to make you stare at your screen as long as possible, and your data won’t be sold to anyone.

Although Shoni Town is only a small server, it is connected to a much larger network of other servers called “the Fediverse”. Most of these servers are also run by people who want news (and cat photos) to flow freely, and reliably, among members of their communities.