When Threads launched this summer, one of the more intriguing aspects of the new service was Meta’s promise to support ActivityPub, the open-source protocol that powers Mastodon and other decentralized social media platforms. But there were still many unanswered questions about how such interoperability would work, and just how committed Meta was to the plan.
Now, Meta is taking its first step toward making Threads compatible with the fediverse. A new test will make some Threads content available on Mastodon and other apps for the first time, Mark Zuckerberg announced in a post on Threads. “Making Threads interoperable will give people more choice over how they interact and it will help content reach more people,” he wrote. "I'm pretty optimistic about this."
It wasn’t immediately clear how this would work or how much Threads content might be available on Mastodon or other services. But the company previously introduced the ability to verify your Threads profile on Mastodon, so Meta does have some insight into Threads users who are also active in the fediverse.
"We're starting with the ability to follow threads users from activitypub clients, but we will get to the ability to follow accounts from activitypub servers on threads as well," Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained in a post. We’ve reached out to Meta for more details on the integration and will update if we hear back.
The test is the latest sign of growing momentum behind decentralized social media, which advocates say could upend how we interact online. Because decentralized platforms like Mastodon rely on protocols rather than a single company’s platform, more mainstream adoption of say, ActivityPub, means that people would be able to interact with a wider variety of content in more places. Meta has also said ActivityPub support would allow users to “to stop using Threads and transfer your content to another service.”
Though some fediverse enthusiasts have been skeptical about Meta’s entry into the space, Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko has said he’s supportive of their efforts. “The fact that large platforms are adopting ActivityPub is not only validation of the movement towards decentralized social media, but a path forward for people locked into these platforms to switch to better providers,” he wrote in a blog post earlier this year.
Update, December 13 2023, 3:30PM ET: This story has been updated to include a comment from Adam Mosseri.