Meta and the Fediverse

Just a couple of links about Meta’s forthcoming entry into the Twitter alternatives space, beginning with “Bloonface” asking “why is Meta going to use ActivityPub?”:

The Jabber analogy works in a different way here, in that it’s not particularly clear why Google Talk needed to interoperate with XMPP at all. Google gained a user base for GTalk in spite of its Jabber integration, not because of it. The users it would have found most useful to its end goal – ultimately, revenue – were not the sort of, bluntly, nerds who loved XMPP because of its intrinsic XMPP-ness.

In the same way, what Meta really needs for its purposes is not Mastodon users, but the sort of people who your average “normie” social media users follow, and whom Mastodon does not have and is largely hostile and/or unappealing to: sports stars, celebrities, journalists, brands, influencers. Basically none of those people or companies use Mastodon; they all use Instagram. They also all use Twitter. Network effects matter, and Mastodon doesn’t bring much of one to the table.

It is a good question, and Bloonface does not have a great answer; I do not think anyone does. My guess is that it looks good for Meta to look open and friendly right now — just look at how it has marketed the “metaverse”. I do not think most people care, but I think Meta believes it is good for its reputation.

Which, by the way, is not great.

Adrian Weckler, the Independent:

It is unclear when, or if, Meta will launch Threads in Ireland and the EU. A spokesperson for Meta was unavailable to comment on the matter.

However, it is understood that the DPC has not actively blocked the service. Instead, the tech giant has not yet prepared the service for a European launch outside the UK, which is not fully governed by GDPR or EU privacy rules.

It is possible that its use of ActivityPub means it will not feel pressured to launch in the E.U., because its interoperability might be an advantage in maximizing the use of the Threads app where it is available while permitting Meta to ignore countries where it is not. It gets the benefits of those users while absorbing less risk, since privacy compromises are a function of the protocol itself.

Update: Ivan Mehta, TechCrunch:

Notably, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a post that there will be no ActivityPub support at launch. ActivityPub is a protocol that is used to post on decentralized networks like Mastodon. But the platform plans to allow interactions with other fediverse servers in the future.


“If you’re wondering why this matters, here’s a reason: you may one day end up leaving Threads, or, hopefully not, end up de-platformed. If that ever happens, you should be able to take your audience with you to another server. Being open can enable that.”

A benefit, though one which will not be realized at the launch of Threads.