Last Week in Fediverse – ep 61


A busy week in the fediverse, with Threads launching their open beta, as well as Fediforum happening this week.

Threads has entered the fediverse

Threads has officially entered the fediverse, by entering an open beta where people in the US, Canada and Japan can now opt in to connect their profile to the fediverse. The feature was first demoed on the Fediforum this week by Threads employees, who were there to show the feature and participate in the discussions. A video of the demo can be seen here, which showcases how the connection between Threads and the fediverse works.

Threads accounts that opt-in to the connection will get a few popups that explain what the fediverse is, and what it means to be connected.

4 screenshots where Threads explains what fediverse sharing is
Source.

In the announcement post, Meta goes into more detail, explaining how this open beta is part of their phased approach to the fediverse. In the current phase of this open beta, only public posts are federated out towards other servers that connect with Threads, with Meta saying:

Certain types of posts and content are also not federated, including:

  • Posts with restricted replies.
  • Replies to non-federated posts.
  • Post with polls (until future updates).
  • Reposts of non-federated posts.

The blog also goes into more detail on how Threads has approached quote posts, by adopting both the Misskey-style of quote posts as well as the FEP-a232 style of quote posts. I wrote about this in more detail a while ago. It indicates the impact that Threads has on the entire fediverse by participating with ActivityPub. The status of how the FEP process relates to the formal specification of the protocol has never been fully formalised, but the participation of Meta in this process changes the dynamics.

On Instagram, Adam Mosseri posted a story where he explains why Threads is joining the fediverse, listing multiple reasons. He states that it is an ‘interesting way for social networks to operate’, and the ‘direction the internet is going’, calling it a paradigm shift that he wants Threads to lean into. He also describes Threads as the challenger to Twitter, and thus willing to take on more risk.

Threads’ phased approach to federation is as much a technical challenge as it is a regulatory challenge. Currently, Threads accounts do not see individual likes on their federated posts, instead getting a notification that says ‘4 fediverse users from 3 servers liked this post’, for example. According to Mastodon CTO Renaud Chaput, Threads cannot use profile info from fediverse accounts on Threads yet because they are not allowed to do so yet by their Legal department.

With Threads and the fediverse being a main topic of conversation again, some short bits of news:

  • Threads does not connect to all servers in the fediverse either, and they published their guidelines on which servers Threads will not connect to here.
  • FediDB has also added support for Threads to the database that tracks the fediverse, and now Mark Zuckerberg is the most followed account on the fediverse.
  • The developer of GoToSocial wrote about the social and power dynamics of when a large corporate implementation of a protocol is incompatible with the implementation by a small independent group.
  • Threads uses a their own logo to denote the fediverse, not the coloured 5-pointed one. Whether or not a server federates with Threads is a major mark of separation within the fediverse, and Liaizon Wakest uses the different logos to distinguish between an ‘open fediverse’ and a ‘Corporate Fediverse’.

Fediforum

Fediforum was this week, a 2-day digital unconference where everyone could call sessions, as well as a variety of speed demos at the beginning. The event consists of speed demos of 5 minutes, and sessions that anyone could convene.

The speed demos were a good showcase in the incredible projects that people are building on top of the fediverse. It also indicated a need for better ways for people to share what they are building with the rest of the fediverse, as there are some amazing projects that have not gotten the attention yet that they deserve. I don’t have the space (nor time) for this edition of the newsletter to go over all of the demos, but you watch them on the Fediforum Youtube channel. TheNewStack has a good write-up of the event as well, and if you are really interested you can scroll through WeDistribute’s liveblog of the event. I’ll give one sneak peak, that I was impressed by Emissary, a stand-alone fediverse server and RSS reader, which easily allows you to build custom apps on top as well. To understand what that really means, I’ll recommend you check out the demo video. I’ll go over the demo videos some more in a separate article, as I want to say more about how Fediforum highlighted the need for more ways for the fediverse to showcase itself.

Threads has been a significant presence at this edition of Fediforum as well, with the first public demo of how the Threads’ fediverse integration, ahead of their open beta launch a few days later, as well as multiple employees who participated both days in the sessions as well. The employees talked about that they understand the widespread skepticism about Threads joining the fediverse, with one employee saying: “I do want to kind of make a plea that I think everyone on the team has really good intentions. We really want to be a good member of the community and give people the ability to experience what the fediverse is.”

There has been a clear interest in collaboration projects on the fediverse as showcased by the various sessions held during Fediforum. A session on the Threadiverse led to the start of a Threadiverse working group. As a side note, the Thread on NodeBB about the Threadiverse working group is a great showcase for the integration of ActivityPub into NodeBB as well.
There were sessions about the Fediverse Developer Network as well as Evan Prodromou organised a session about a potential Fediverse Advocacy Group. It is clear that the interest is there, with the more difficult next step being to put this into practice.

In other news

IFTAS has been hard at work behind the scenes, and with it some of the things that they will release this month:

  • FediCheck, a Moderation-as-a-Service app that gives administrators control to compare their deny list with IFTAS’ CARIAD list, and allows them to easily add and subtract instances to the their own deny list. This was also demoed at Fediforum, video available here.
  • DSA Guidebook for Micro Services. Everything you wanted to know about the EU’s Digital Services Act and were too afraid to ask.
  • A moderation community portal
  • Moderation Documentation Support
  • Moderator Advisory Council

It is a massive list, and something I’ll certainly cover more when things are released.

Two podcasts episodes (one, two) on the work of connecting ActivityPub and ActivityStreams in the podcasting specification. Some fascinating things are happening in the podcasting space that I have not really been able to fully check out and report on yet, but for people interested in the topic, this is definitely something that is worth diving deeper into.

The links

  • Donald Trump’s Truth Social runs a forked version of Mastodon, and it seems that it has not patched the vulnerabilities that have been discovered in Mastodon.
  • WeDistribute has written about the state of ActivityPub, and the efforts to extend the protocol.
  • The Mastodonusercountbot reported that Mastodon now has 15 million accounts. This bot is likely not accurate, with other sources listing somewhere between 7 and 9 million Mastodon accounts.
  • @Box464 has written an extensive walkthrough for completing a Bonfire installation. For more information about the upcoming platform, check out this article by WeDistribute, or my recent reporting on how they are involved with the launch of a new Open Science Network.
  • Pixelfed developer Dansup is working on Loops, a federated platform for short form vertical video. A video demonstrating how Loops will look like is available here.
  • A blog by the European Broadcasting Union with a call for all public broadcasters to join decentralised social networks, based on the experiences by Deutsche Welle on Mastodon.
  • Five Themes Discussed at Princeton’s Workshop on Decentralized Social Media.
  • Last week I reported about Fedify, a fediverse server framework. They released another demo of what is possible with Fedify, this time with fedi badges. Fedify also released a tutorial, here.
  • This week’s fediverse software updates.
  • The latest update on NodeBB’s fediverse implementation.

That’s all for this week. If you want more, you can subscribe to my fediverse account or to the mailing list below: