Friday, July 14, 2023

Threads and ActivityPub

Richard MacManus:

The fediverse is a collection of decentralized social media services that interconnect via ActivityPub. The most prominent member of the fediverse is Mastodon, a microblogging network that launched in 2017. But many other Web 2.0-style apps have been built on ActivityPub — including Bookwyrm (Goodreads), Lemmy (Reddit), PeerTube (YouTube), and PixelFed (Flickr).


With ActivityPub, the server manages your identity and data. So when you join Mastodon, for example, you are essentially entrusting management of your data to the server (“instance”) you join. As fediverse developer Ryan Barrett put it in a post this week, your ActivityPub “identity, data, and administration are all tied to your instance, for both technical and cultural reasons.” Among other things, this architecture enables your instance to make moderation decisions on your behalf. You’re still free to move to another instance, at any time and for whatever reason, but you can’t port your data (your posts and media) from one instance to another.

I mention all this because it plays right into Meta’s strengths. Meta will still control the identity layer even when it integrates with ActivityPub — and that’s immensely valuable when you’re the owner of Instagram’s social graph. Since Threads is also hosted on Meta’s servers, all your data is managed by Meta too.


There are, of course, also technical challenges that will need to be overcome. As another W3C working group member, Johannes Ernst, put it, “I think one of the things we are all very interested in learning is just what exact stack of protocols Meta is implementing, and then the higher-level policies not prescribed in the standard.” Ernst pointed out that “merely implementing ActivityPub in itself is not sufficient to produce interoperable software nor make what’s happening comprehensible to users.” For example, which of the activity types will Threads implement? Will it allow hyperlinks and HTML markup?


Update (2023-09-11): Jesse Chen (via Chris Adamson):

Our goal with Threads is to make social content as interoperable as email. We are working on the ability for Threads to integrate with ActivityPub, the open, decentralized social networking protocol. Once that happens people will be able to enjoy the best features of Threads across platforms. More importantly, they’ll be able to have more control over their online social presence, regardless of any app or platform. They’ll have the ability to distribute their posts to other social media apps, and consume content from creators on other apps on Threads.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

I love all the tech heads rushing to Zuck as their savior - as if.
Want to know why there will never be a web version of Threads? They can't harvest all your data and usability info like they can from a phone app.
Thank god Threads use is already collapsing.

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