This is not recent news, really. It actually has been 3 months since the release of their new platform, but I was literally there when they dropped the announcement, and it was entirely by accident.
There was a very brief moment in time (it was like 3 days or something) where I had both my art Instagram and my Neocities website. This website was meant entirely to supplement the Instagram account, mainly writing some documentaries on art, drawing tutorials, and some other stuff I had in mind. My site was as barebones as it could be at that point, all created in an intense 3-hour stint. And it wasn't supposed to be its own stand-alone thing like it is now.
When I went to put my Neocities website URL into the links section of my Instagram profile, something very odd happened: it blocked me from putting it in. And who knows what other algorithmic havoc it did on my account as a result of that. Probably shadowbanned me even, if I had to guess. Suffice to say, I was very confused. I looked everywhere as to why, but it turns out that I stumbled across the landmine way before anything was documented. I searched up the problem, and nothing showed up on my search engine. That's how early I was to finding out about this.
So I ended up working on my Neocities website for a bit, still confused as to why Instagram blocked my Neocities URL, conceding the fact that my website idea was a complete bust. I quit Instagram on July 29, and literally the day after, on July the 30th, the news dropped which explained everything about my blocked Neocities URL. It was a complete coincidence.
Basically, Facebook is creating a competitor to Neocities called E.gg, and because of that they blocked all Neocities URLs from ever showing up in platforms owned by them, including Instagram. Totally fair play, huh?
I'm quite upset. Well, not really. I stopped caring after I quit Instagram. But I do find it rather odd why they're trying to revive the web culture that they practically destroyed.
One of the reasons the Old Web looked the way it did resulted from the rudimentary tools that HTML gave the user. HTML was new technology at the time, and so it was fairly limited as to how it can be laid out and formatted. It was rather crude at the time, but it made the Old Web what it was. And it was very charming.
This platform they are pushing doesn't seem to be accommodating for any HTML whatsoever. I'm seeing some sort of a "drag-and-drop" element in this thing which obviously limits the user's form of creative expression, like many of the social media platforms nowadays. I guess having your own "canvas" as they like to call it is a step forward from the typical "fill out your information here to display in this bland template". But if you're going to "revive" the Old Web, at least do it right and allow the same tools that the people used in that era, as opposed to limiting them to this rectangular page with ridiculous proportions - it's the most noodly rectangle that you could possibly make. And there's a reason for this: you can only create a page on mobile as of writing this, and only on iOS. Talk about bringing back the Old Web with a brand-exclusive operating system, am I right?
What they are creating doesn't look appealing at all. It just sounds like a big corporation trying to capitalize on people's nostalgia while failing to capture the spirit of the past. If you look at the about page of their platform and look at the examples of these userpages, they don't function at all like how the Old Web functioned. They seem to me like watered-down image collages. Sure, you can add all of these quirky images, text, and all of that stuff, but you can't make these awesome, super elaborate shrine pages that people typically have on Neocities. You can't create your own crazy pages however you want. You'll always be bound by the limitations of the app. It's simply going to be the diluted version of what the Old Web was, and what Neocities is today. It looks like some scraggly-looking scrapbook with modern graphics to boot. That's it. It's what it is, but calling it the "revival" of the Old Web is practically an insult. Especially when Facebook was the first step into corporatizing social media and ridding the Internet of the Old Web culture in the first place.
The interesting thing is this statement written in fine print at the bottom of their about page:
If they weren't looking to capitalize on people's nostalgia for the Old Web, then why the need to block Neocities URLs in their platforms? It seems entirely unnecessary if they were going in a different direction. Since Neocities is already rather niche and is under the radar compared to other social mediums, blocking all URLs on their platforms is a rather strange decision. Seems entirely uncalled for, honestly.
Anyway, I suppose that this platform makes it more accessible to those who can't be bothered to learn HTML and CSS. And that's a valid point. But the reason I don't like these types of platforms is that it doesn't teach users to take control of their creative output, but leaves these companies to do a majority of the work for them. Since you are on their playground, you are playing by their rules, which means, of course, data siphoning and a lack of privacy.
If you're already on Neocities, you've come to the right place for reliving early 90s-2000s Web 1.0 nostalgia, not this Facebook-operated scrapbook looking thing that doesn't even resemble the Old Web. What a joke.