Three Ways Threads Will Bless & Burden The Fediverse

Threads icon

Unless you have been distracted by the chaos happening around the world regarding politics, entertainment, finance, etcetera, you probably already were informed about Meta activating ActivityPub upon Threads recently.

Now, we’re integrating Threads with the fediverse. With our beta experience, now available in a few countries, including the US, Threads users aged 18+ with public profiles can now choose to federate their profiles – allowing them to share their Threads posts to other ActivityPub-compliant servers and enabling people on those servers to follow them, and like, reply to, and repost their posts.

Building a federated platform – Meta’s first app for open social networking – has meant new engineering challenges and opportunities. Designing for the fediverse comes with unique interoperability considerations and hurdles to overcome on the server side. (Engineering at Meta)

According to @christophersu@threads.net & @sblackst@threads.net (Meta engineers), the beta test is currently available for users within the United States 🇺🇸, Japan 🇯🇵 & Canada 🇨🇦.

Although Threads entering the Fediverse should be a cause for celebration, many others are worried about how Meta’s presence will affect the future of decentralized media.

While I do not personally believe @zuck@threads.net & @mosseri@threads.net will initiate operation EEE due to regulatory forces in the United States 🇺🇸 & European Union 🇪🇺, I do believe Threads overall presence will be both a blessing & a burden to many who call the Fediverse home.

Threads in Fediverse

Count Your Blessings

Three ways Threads will be a blessing to the Fediverse include (but are not limited to):

Making Fediverse More Mainstream

Meta’s entrance will make it easier to explain to the public what the Fediverse is all about without appearing to speak geek to the masses.

This will make it easier to introduce the concept of the ActivityPub protocol to neighbors, friends, coworkers, politicians, businesses, etcetera.

While this might seem trivial, having a company experienced in marketing to billions of humans on Earth easily explain the philosophy behind the Fediverse and the ActivityPub protocol will save time for those of us fluent in geek.

3D visualization of Fediverse logo

More Hosting & An App For That‽

As more people become familiar with the fediverse, more will desire to host their content on their domain, servers, etcetera.

We could witness one-click installs appearing for:

As more people, businesses, government agencies, celebrities, etcetera, establish their Fediverse social networks, we will also witness greater demand for official & third-party apps to interact with their web cousins.

Developers will be needed to create Fediverse apps for...

...which could bless those in the tech arena by earning extra income to help put food on the table (which is desperately needed after the numerous layoffs over the past few years).

Diversity photo in public domain

Opportunity For Diversity

Years ago, @justinhendrix@mastodon.social interviewed @shengokai@zirk.us, the latter who broached the topic of The Whiteness of Mastodon, & it has more or less been a subject of debate throughout my time in the fediverse (update: thanks @thenexusofprivacy@infosec.exchange for correcting me by clarifying that Dr. Johnathan Flowers broached the topic while Justin Hendrix conducted the interview).

If there is one thing Threads boasts about, it is diversity, as I have seen numerous communities (African, Asian, Arabian, Native American) embracing Threads over the past few months.

Having their voices enter the Fediverse (even through Threads) will benefit everyone in the long term, especially when our planet is facing multiple global crises (both artificial & natural).

Mastodon welcoming Threads

Image Credit: @davidrevoy@framapiaf.org on Pepper & Carrot

Lay Down Your Burdens

While Threads activation of ActivityPub will bless the Fediverse, its presence will also cause issues for those in the Fediverse and affect future ActivityPub platforms.

Spam can

When Spammers Attack

With Threads entering the Fediverse, ActivityPub patrons will have to strengthen their defenses against spammers, trolls, porn bots, etcetera.

I have blocked far more spammers on Threads in the past three months than I have in three years on the Fediverse (which includes the time when spammers flooded the Fediverse).

Spam is always an issue (online and off). Still, the amount will increase, unfortunately, as more Threads accounts activate ActivityPub, which means admins running instances will need to figure out adequate countermeasures to avoid getting swarmed with spam.

Joker from Batman Dark Knight burning money

Image Credit: Scene from The Dark Knight movie

More People, Less Money

According to FediDB, there are approximately 1 million monthly active users in the Fediverse.

Threads boasts over 130 million monthly active users, which could translate into higher server costs for instance admins in the future.

Unless community members are willing to support their Fediverse home financially, we could witness many volunteer-run instances shutting down due to a lack of fiscal resources.

Public domain poster promoting censorship

Too Much Moderation‽

Previously, Threads began limiting political content, outraging many pundits online.

Although Threads later on made viewing such content an opt-in feature, the company is still limiting select search terms, which would be relevant towards current events.

While there has been a raging debate about how much moderation Fediverse instances should conduct on behalf of users, Threads aggressive approach to create a digital safe space is already causing issues, as they allegedly removed a post by @w7voa@journa.host regarding a terrorist attack in Russia 🇷🇺 (& oddly claimed his post supported terrorists when the opposite is true).

Threads allergic reaction to hard news is (to put it bluntly) a disservice to the Fediverse overall. Fortunately, there are heavy weights like Flipboard who can easily fill in the information gap. Still, Threads absence may result in people being unaware of critical news that could affect their life.

So Is Threads Good For The Fediverse‽

Overall, Threads' inclusion within the Fediverse should be celebrated. However, it would be wise for other ActivityPub platforms to figure out ways to increase their reach and act as a counterweight to Meta’s presence.

👨🏾‍💻 by @darnell@darnellclayton.com 🔛 @darnell@darnell.day

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