Kev Quirk

Threads and the Fediverse

16 Dec 2023 | ~4 minute read

Lots of people on Mastodon have been losing their shit over Threads joining the fediverse, so I wanted to give my opinion on this whole shit show.

The fediverse is awash with calls to block Threads at an instance level. As co-admin of Fosstodon, I've been asked on many occasions whether we will be banning Threads at the instance level.

We won't be and here's why...

Privacy, yo!

I get it, anything Meta points its grubby little fingers at instantly turns into a privacy vortex of doom. But the argument that Threads joining the fediverse is bad for our privacy is bollocks.

I won't go into all the details here, since Robb already wrote up a great post about it, but the TL;DR is that Mastodon has an open API and a lot of the stuff posted there is public. So it would be trivial for Meta (or anyone else) to slurp it all up. In fact, a number of places do that already.

They're not welcome here!

Another argument I've read a few times, aside from privacy, is that Meta aren't welcome on the fediverse. This one just dumbfounds me.

No single person/entity owns the fediverse. So who are you to say who's welcome and who isn't?

We don't want ads here!

This one I can get behind. No one wants to see ads on the fediverse, and you can bet your bottom dollar that if there's a way for Meta to do this, they abso-fucking-lutely will.

But I'm not sure it would be possible. The only way, I can see, of doing this would be to inject adverts as activitypub posts into user's feeds. Ads are usually injected via JavaScript and that wouldn't translate into the fediverse as your instance wouldn't know how to parse it.

Also, I'm no legal eagle, but I think if Meta were to inject people's timelines with ads so that they showed on other platforms, it would be fraught with legal ramifications.

Why Fosstodon won't de-federate from Threads

Fact of the matter is, shit's public on the fedi, we have no right to say who is and isn't welcome, and it would be problematic, at the very least, to have adverts injected into activitypub.

So if the net result is that the fediverse gets to federate with a tonne of new people, thus making the whole thing more diverse and popular, surely that's a good thing? I think it could also open the gates for people who weren't aware of the Fediverse before, to become aware of it. You never know, a few years from now, you might be able to lookup all your friends and family on the fedi.

Fact is, only way that's gonna happen is if a company like Meta joins the fun.

So we've decided to just wait and see on Fosstodon. I think all the instance-blocking of Threads is ridiculous, quite frankly. And it's one of the things that frustrates me about the fedi - it can be so reactionary at times. But oh well, you folks do you.

If the people on Fosstodon don't want to see anything from Threads, that's fine. There's the option to block entire domains at the user level. So if you're that worried, feel free to block threads.net on your account. This will still leave Threads open to those that, like me, wanna wait and see where this things go.

But please, stop pressuring your admins and mods to block the service. Running an instance is hard enough without a load of drama being thrown at us as well. Especially when you can easily block it yourself with a couple of clicks:

Mastodon domain block
Don't worry, Jack. I'm not gonna block yer.

Final thoughts

This is 100% going to get me some flack on Mastodon (remember...reactionary). Which is why I decided to post it here and not on the Fosstodon Hub. I hope the fedi proves me wrong, so we can all just get along and enjoy our day.

We shall see. But for now, Fosstodon won't be blocking threads.

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