3 min read

Threads and Mastodon

Last week, Threads began to act on their promise to federate threads.net via ActivityPub & Mastodon. They've started with a small test of a few accounts, including Instagram head Adam Mosseri (@mosseri).

Post by @mosseri
View on Threads

It took a few hours, but eventually, @mosseri's posts began appearing on my mastodon timeline - on my own instance (mastodon.qassim.uk) - via Ivory (a mastodon client).

Screenshot of Ivory for Mac showing @mosseri's posts on my mastodon instance.

I think it's pretty cool, it's good to see Meta doing this and to me, this is part of the point of decentralised networks.

But not everyone is enthusiastic about this. Many have already blocked the threads.net domain from federating with their mastodon instances and some are encouraging others to do the same.

#Fedipact is one of these 'movements'. Now, I disagree with blocking threads - I want to interact with people on threads. There are people I follow over there that simply will never use Mastodon, but I don't really want to use Threads. But, I'm fine with this 'movement', again - this is the point of decentralised networks.

It doesn't really bother me at all that other instances are blocking Threads, I have control of my own instance and can do what I want. Users who want to interact with Threads but are on instances that are blocking Threads can migrate their account to another instance that isn't. This is Mastodon working.

Mastodon instances, largely, thus far has been largely independently run by hobbyists or non-profits. It's free from large corporate influences. So I get why people are nervous - but from my perspective - what am I losing by allowing Threads to federate with my instance?

  • My profile is public, if corporations want to scrape and use that data - they can.
  • Any private data remains private (account details, etc)
  • I'm using a third party mastodon client that only interacts with my own server (aside from media downloading from others, including threads).

Will Threads benefit commercially from the additional data they get from Mastodon? Probably. But it's an open protocol anyway, they could do that silently without us all knowing. At least this way we're getting benefits as users - the ability to interact with a large corporate social networking platform without having to be a member of that social network.

Hopes and concerns

Most of what Adam Mosseri has been saying about Threads and ActivityPub has been good so far. But there is one potentially large area of concern:

Post by @mosseri
View on Threads

If users have to opt in before I can follow them, then this kills it before it begins for me. If I can request to follow them and they have to accept, okay, fine, that's cool.

If Mastodon users seeing Threads posts in their timeline have a disconnected experience due to clicking on a thread and missing most of the posts because most people haven't opted in, then that would be a shame.

There's a lot of questions around the decentralised model of Mastodon and its ability to moderate its users, and this could create a difficult backdoor for Meta to be able to handle. It's also a new model for users to accept. I understand the concern.

I would like them to be brave and commit to the ActivityPub model, if a user's profile is public - then opt them in to federation with the ability to opt out if they wish. But that doesn't look like their direction, I just hope I'm able to follow accounts without much friction, without Threads users needing to be aware of and understand what it means to opt in. Let it, at least, be a process of 'non-threads user is requesting to follow you, accept?'.

Finally, I hope that as per Mosseri's own post - confirming they plan on allowing Threads users to move their account to other Mastodon servers - they do it properly. They allow us to set up the account redirects and take our followers with us. I want to do that with my threads account, I want to move it to qassim@qassim.uk.