What is the Fediverse and Why is Threads Using It? We Explain in Plain English

What is the Fediverse? We Explain in Plain English
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With the advent of Threads people are becoming aware of something called ‘the fediverse’ (Threads is the new social network messaging app – think ‘Twitter’ only owned by Facebook Meta). The reason that the release of Threads has people becoming aware of the fediverse is because of this advisory when they sign up for Threads: “Future versions of Threads will work with the fediverse, a new type of social media network that allows people to follow and interact with each other on different platforms, like Mastodon.”

Ok, so this doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wikipedia explains that the fediverse is an collection of interconnected (or ‘federated’) Internet servers (i.e. computers) that are used for hosting various sites and services, such as, well, Threads, and also Mastodon and several other social media sites. While each is independently hosted, the servers can communicate with each other and, and this is important, interoperate with each other so that what is posted on, say, Mastodon can also appear on Threads.

Because of this, changes you make to your posts will affect how they appear on Threads, but may not change how it shows up on other servers. For example, when you delete a post, it’ll no longer be visible on Threads and Threads will ask other servers to delete it, but the post may still be visible on other servers that Threads doesn’t control.

What this means is that if you have an account on Mastodon, an account on Threads, and an account on, say, Tumblr (another fediverse participant), what you post on Threads can show up on Mastodon and Tumblr without your taking any other action. And of course as more services join the fediverse, each time you sign up for one that is part of the fediverse, your content can show up at those other places.

Still doesn’t sound so terrible, right? But let’s get back to Threads and see what they have to say about it. When you read the full explanation of what Threads anticipates, it just may give you pause:

“Our vision is that Threads will enable you to communicate with people on other fediverse platforms we don’t own or control. This means that your Threads profile can follow and be followed by people using different servers on the fediverse. Your content and information may be shared with those servers, for example, if you interact with content from other servers or if you have followers from other servers. If you have a private profile, you can approve follow requests before people on or off Threads can follow you. Users from other servers will have the name of their server added to their username displayed on Threads (e.g. someone@someserver.com).

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The servers on the fediverse are distributed and decentralized, meaning that changes on one server may not affect other servers. Because of this, changes you make to your posts will affect how they appear on Threads, but may not change how it shows up on other servers. For example, when you delete a post, it’ll no longer be visible on Threads and Threads will ask other servers to delete it, but the post may still be visible on other servers that Threads doesn’t control.

[Bold emphasis added by us]

You can read Threads’ full disclosure about the fediverse here.

So, what do you think about this? Let us know.

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