Some Threads Users Can Now Share Their Posts to the Fediverse

Some Threads Users Can Now Share Their Posts to the Fediverse

The post-Twitter world is fractured among a handful of potential alternate social networks—which is exciting, but also annoying. Things got slightly more integrated last week. That’s because Threads, the Twitter alternative owned by Meta, made it possible for users of Mastodon and other services to follow Threads accounts that opt in to the Fediverse.

What’s the Fediverse?

A lot of Threads users expressed confusion about this announcement, mostly because they don’t know what the Fediverse is. To drastically over-explain, the Fediverse is a network of social media sites built on the same protocol: ActivityPub.

You know how, as a Gmail user, you can email someone who uses Outlook, Yahoo Mail, or a private server? That’s because email is built on a protocol that no one owns. The Fediverse works in a similar way: You can share posts from one network, and users on other Fediverse networks can view it. Until now, some of the more popular services that make up part of this network include Mastodon, the image sharing site Pixelfed, and Reddit alternative Lemmy. Tumblr is also working on an integration, meaning eventually Threads, Mastodon, and Tumblr could all be part of the same ecosystem sometime this year.

Meta is moving slowly at launching Threads’ Fediverse connection. The new feature is in beta, and only available in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Users have to opt in before their posts are shared to these other social networks, and the feature isn’t complete: Threads users will not be able to see likes and replies from users outside of Threads, won’t be able to follow users on other services, and cannot post polls or Threads with restrictive replies. This is very much still a start, but it’s something.

How to turn on ActivityPub in Threads

To get started, open Threads in your browser. Click the two lines in the top-right corner and click Settings.

Credit: Justin Pot

Head to the Account tab, and you’ll see a Fediverse sharing option. Again, this beta feature is only available in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. You won’t see this feature if you don’t live in one of those places.

Credit: Justin Pot

You will see an explanation of the Fediverse and the limits of the current beta. When you’re ready click the Turn on sharing button.

Credit: Justin Pot

That’s it! Your account can now be followed from any compatible service. I tested this by searching for my Threads account from Mastodon, and it was available immediately.

Credit: Justin Pot

I’m going to be honest: I’m a Mastodon guy (follow me) and am probably never going to be active on Threads. And I know that not everyone on Mastodon and other Fediverse services are thrilled about this. Those services, by their very nature, are heavily populated by the kinds of people who don’t trust Facebook, Instagram, or Meta. And I agree that Mark Zuckerberg’s company has proven, time and time again, that it can’t be trusted. I’m conflicted, though, because I know there are people in my life who will likely never set up a Mastodon account but might use Threads some day, and I’d like a way to keep up with them. My hope is that decentralization makes that possible in a way that doesn’t involve me having to use a service owned by Meta—hopefully this is a step toward that.

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