Mastodon’s FAQ on Threads

Eugen Rochko, founder and CEO of Mastodon:

Today, Meta is launching its new microblogging platform called Threads. What is noteworthy about this launch is that Threads intends to become part of the decentralized social web by using the same standard protocol as Mastodon, ActivityPub. There’s been a lot of speculation around what Threads will be and what it means for Mastodon. We’ve put together some of the most common questions and our responses based on what was launched today.

What strikes me about this FAQ is that nearly every question has no basis in reality. It’s calming the irrational fears of people who view Facebook as a corporate bogeyman. Having written quite a bit recently about Threads joining the open fediverse, I can vouch that these fears are real, insofar as people really do think Threads is somehow going to steal their data, or that Facebook is somehow going to show ads to people on Mastodon servers, but those fears have no more basis in reality than worrying about monsters who live under your bed.

Here’s the one that really matters:

Will Meta embrace-extend-extinguish the ActivityPub protocol?

There are comparisons to be made between Meta adopting ActivityPub for its new social media platform and Meta adopting XMPP for its Messenger service a decade ago. There was a time when users of Facebook and users of Google Talk were able to chat with each other and with people from self-hosted XMPP servers, before each platform was locked down into the silos we know today. What would stop that from repeating? Well, even if Threads abandoned ActivityPub down the line, where we would end up is exactly where we are now. XMPP did not exist on its own outside of nerd circles, while ActivityPub enjoys the support and brand recognition of Mastodon.

Thursday, 6 July 2023