Friday, December 15, 2023

Threads in EU and on ActivityPub

Jon Porter (via John Gruber):

Meta’s Twitter competitor, Threads, is now available in the European Union, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced. “Today we’re opening Threads to more countries in Europe,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Threads. The launch follows the service’s debut in the US and over 100 other countries across the world, including the UK, in July 2023. But until now, Threads hasn’t been available to the 448 million people living in the EU, and the company has even blocked EU-based users from accessing the service via VPN.

To coincide with today’s launch, Meta is giving users in the region the ability to browse Threads without needing a profile. Actually posting or interacting with content will still require an Instagram account, however.

Adam Mosseri:

Second, threads posted by me and a few members of the Threads team will be available on other fediverse platforms like Mastodon starting this week. This test is a small but meaningful step towards making Threads interoperable with other apps using ActivityPub[…]

Via John Gruber:

When Threads launched this summer, with the stated intention of federating via ActivityPub, there were a lot of naysayers who thought it would never happen. But here we are.

John Gruber:

It brings me no joy to report this, but unless I scrolled past one, there are no Mastodon clients in the top 200 free apps, even looking specifically within the “social networking” category, on either the App Store or Play Store. (Twitter/X categorizes itself as “News”, not “Social”, as a sad crutch to place higher in a category with less competition.) Even Bluesky makes these lists (#80 on the App Store; #49 on Play Store).


Regular people do not want to use social networks without algorithmic feeds, and do not want to use social networks whose basic premise they do not understand.


Update (2023-12-22): Erin Kissane (via Jesper):

For people with those concerns, Threads federation is a pretty big step toward being able to maintain an account on Mastodon (or another fediverse service) and still find the people they want to interact with—assuming some of those people are on Threads and not only on Bluesky, Twitter/X, Instagram, and all the other non-ActivityPub-powered systems.

On the flipside, Threads federation gives people on Threads the chance to reconnect with people who left commercial social media for the fediverse—and, if they get disgusted with Meta, to migrate much more easily to a noncommercial, non-surveillance-based network.


The Threads federation conversations that I’ve seen so far mostly focus on:

  • Meta’s likelihood of destroying the fediverse via“embrace-extend-extinguish”
  • Meta’s ability to get hold of pre-Threads fediverse (I’ll call it Small Fedi for convenience) users’ data,
  • Threads’ likelihood of fumbling content moderation, and
  • the correct weighting of Meta being terrible vs. connecting with people who use Threads.

Update (2024-02-01): Tom Coates:

Now, I mentioned above that the people we met at Meta seemed like decent, well-intentioned people attempting to do the right thing. However, this may not be enough to be a ‘good citizen’. And to understand why I think it’s worth talking briefly about the scale of the various parties.


Meta can currently claim around 160 million total users and about 100 million MAUs for Threads alone. So, again, maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about Threads ‘integrating’ with the fediverse and instead think about Threads attempting to engage with the Fediverse without entirely crushing it in the process.

Via Nick Heer:

I found myself nodding along with Coates’ description of the challenges of trying to fit the Meta model into the fediverse, and vice versa. It is not impossible, it is going to require a lot of work, and it sounds like Meta wants to make a good faith effort. I do not much like Threads as an application, but I know many people are now active there and I would like to see their posts on my own terms.

Update (2024-04-03): Dare Obasanjo:

I remember all of the skepticism about how Threads was not really going to integrate with fediverse. And now it’s here and actually quite mundane.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

"Regular people do not want to use social networks without algorithmic feeds, and do not want to use social networks whose basic premise they do not understand."

I don't think I really agree with this. I think people don't care where their feed comes from so long as it's giving them content they want. And I don't think they care about the "premise" of an app either. When it comes to a social app, what matters is a) whether it's easy to get on it, and b) whether the people or content they care about are on it.

So I think part of the failure of Mastodon is that it's complicated. You have to pick a home server, and understanding what that is and why it's important requires technical understanding, which is going to put off a lot of people who don't give a damn about any of that crap, and nor should they. And it's not always as easy as a simple sign up with an obvious app and then presto you're good to go. There needs to be as little friction as possible, and even with their occasional staggering incompetence -- for example, reddit's mobile website is still completely broken and unusable on an iPhone, and I am completely unable to create a Discord account right now due to their completely broken captcha system -- it's still hard to be as frictionless of an experience as having a monolithic tech company just handle everything for you and have their way with you.

And since everyone didn't flock to Mastodon, it doesn't have the userbase that's going to support a mass migration. So it remains in relative obscurity and used mainly by techies. (Perhaps that's not a bad thing? I like platforms that are mostly techies. It's one of the advantages of hanging out in IRC.)

Perhaps in the future, when tech companies continue to tighten their grasp on their platforms to point where it really gets difficult for people to have the sorts of conversations and content on there that they want, then people will jump through whatever the hoops are to get on to a federated / open network that puts users first. Or maybe they'll just stop using it altogether because there's no alternative that works for them, so long as the open alternatives are still too annoying to use. We'll just have to wait and see.

It would be really great though if someone could figure out how to make an open user-first social network that was silky smooth and easy. I don't think it's impossible.

Conversely, Mastodon succeeded in doing exactly what its creator set out to do.

The only failure is in the minds of people judging it by standard capitalist metrics.

> I remember all of the skepticism about how Threads was not really going to integrate with fediverse. And now it’s here and actually quite mundane.

It's a completely one way street, for now. On Mastodon you can follow a person on Threads and get all their posts (including replies to their own posts) in your timeline, but any replies you post there, or any other interactions, do not get back to Threads.

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