OC Question: Why are some instances defederating instances which don't sign the fedipact?

Something I don't understand currently about the whole Meta/Threads debacle is why I'm seeing talk about instances which choose to federate with Threads themselves being defederated. I have an account on mastodon.social, one of the instances which has not signed the fedipact, and I've had people from other instances warn me that their instances are going to defederate mastodon.social when Threads arrives.

I have no reason to doubt that, so, assuming that they are, why? I don't believe instances behave as any kind of relay system: anybody who wishes to defederate from Threads can do so and their instances will not pull in Threads content, even if they remain federated to another instance which does.

I'm unsure how boosts work in this scenario, perhaps those instances are concerned that they'll see Threads content when mastodon.social or other Threads-federated instances users boost it, or that their content will be boosted to Threads users? The two degrees of separation would presumably prevent that, so I can see that being a reason to double-defederate, assuming that is how boosts work (is it?).

Other than that, perhaps the goal is simply to split the fediverse into essentially two sides, the Threads side and the non-Threads side, in order to insulate the non-Threads side from any embrace, extend, extinguish behavior on Meta's part?

Ultimately, my long term goal is just to use kbin to interact with the blogging side of the fediverse, but there are obviously teething issues currently, like some Mastodon instances simply aren't compatible with kbin. I'm too lazy to move somewhere else only to move to kbin "again" after that, so in the short term I guess I'll just shrug in the general direction of Mastodon.

To be clear, I have a pretty solid understanding of why people want to defederate Threads (and I personally agree that it's a good idea), it's the double-defederation I'm not sure I follow. Is my understanding at all close? Are there other reasons? Thanks for any insight.

shepherd, (edited )
shepherd avatar

Hmm interesting. I do think it's just as important that we double-defederate unfortunately. Meta/Threads has to be treated as if it's contagious.

If we stay federated with an instance that has accepted the Embrace, what do we do when the Extend happens? Is that when we defederate? Will we even recognize it?

EEE only works because it's difficult to see it happening to you. Instances that ally with Meta/Threads will actually present the same threat of EEE, or even a greater threat, because the Extend step may appear to come from non-Meta instances.

Imagine ActivityPub upgrades developed by a Meta/Threads-ally, let's say improved inter-instance moderator tools. That sounds good right?

It's basically all the exact same arguments again, but with a middle man.

  • Meta/Threads have different foundational priorities (namely, profit) and real incentives to monopolize.
  • Meta-ally instances have real and implied incentives to accommodate
  • And we have incentives to accommodate the instances that we federate with, so of course kbin would use the well-developed new mod tools right?
  • Seems crazy not to, even if it was developed by a Meta-ally. Right?
  • Great! Repeat for thousands of tiny changes, that's called Extend.

That's how accepting EEE works, each little step looks great but big picture we're unknowingly in trouble. We'll have to treat any Meta/Threads-ally as if it is Meta/Threads. (Hell, some of them probably will be lol, the fediverse is just asking for astroturfing lol.)

We can trust instances that don't have economic incentives. But any instance that shows they can be swayed by money, or that shows they'll accommodate instances driven by profit, well they're showing that they'd consider eating us to become the next reddit.


Basically Meta will try to join the fediverse build up a bunch of users and get content. Once they become the biggest instance they will build up a wall to kick all the competition out. It is what google did to XMPP. https://ploum.net/2023-06-23-how-to-kill-decentralised-networks.html By signing the anti fedi pact we are esentially preventing a corporation from taking over and ruining it for everyone else.

vaguerant avatar

This explains why it's a good idea to defederate from Meta/Threads, but why defederate from other non-signatory instances?

Gamers_Mate, (edited )

It is like countries setting up an Embargo. If instances know they might get defederated by helping expand metas influence they will think twice.

PabloDiscobar avatar

because the non-signatory will participate in the spread of a new protocol for example.


They or their users don't want their posts reaching Meta's servers. Any site federating with Meta has the ability to boost content from other sites they're federated with to all others they federate with. So, if Site A is federated with Meta, and Site B is federated with Site A but not with Meta, posts from Site B can still reach Meta via Site A.


The solution to this is Authorized Fetch. It trades a little bit of efficiency (individual AP messages being re-shareable by intermediaries) for proper authorization (every server must fetch the messages directly from the source, with the correct authorization). Mastodon implements it behind an env variable, and implementations like GoToSocial force it. No idea how kbin or Lemmy work but they should look into it.

HeartyBeast avatar

Except Thread isn’t federating initially

PabloDiscobar avatar


NDA being signed by some admins of the fediverse.


I don't get the XMPP thing. XMPP was an obscure protocol mostly used in non-federated applications (several MMOs use XMPP for in-game chat for example, obviously not federated). When Google and Facebook adopted XMPP and federated, the user base exploded, sure. Then they defederated, and XMPP went straight back to where it was before. There was no EEE - it was EA: Embrace, Abandon. Google and Facebook didn't extend or extinguish anything. If anything, Slack and Discord killed XMPP, not Google.

ZILtoid1991 avatar

What also could happen is that a lot of Fediverse post could be collected, then used to build ad profiles. It's quite easy to deanonimize people, and even if the "same user handle" tactic fails, one can just use heavy monitoring to someone to say "X on A is Y on B". I got advertisement for Galaxy S23 Ultra cases just by talking about it.


@ZILtoid1991 this can happen today, everyone is scraping fediverse. But as others said we are not that many anyway. Threads got 10 million users in 7 hours

Perry, (edited )
Perry avatar

I think many people here are immensely overestimating the value of the Fediverse user base. The entire active Fediverse, let alone individual instances, is barely a rounding error for Meta.

There is no if or when Threads become the biggest instance, Threads apparently got 10 million users in 7 hours. The whole of Mastodon has ~9 million users in total. By now, Threads alone is likely bigger than the entire Fediverse combined, which mind you is something like >99% bots and inactive users.

Even if every single instance defederates from Meta, their fork of ActivityPub would by far be the most significant one by not a small margin.

PabloDiscobar avatar

Even if every single instance defederates from Meta, their fork of ActivityPub would by far be the most significant one by not a small margin.

And? Any other big name will never agree to import the fediverse fork of Meta. The war is open, all of the big names know about the EEE trick and none of them will fall for it and embrace their fork.

0xtero, (edited )
0xtero avatar

Some of it comes from privacy/foss fundamentalism that is very prevalent in fediverse (the entire fedi is basically just a huge nerd circle). People don't really think about more than "Meta bad. Defed". It's a bit of a kneejerk reaction...and it's quite normal around here.

perhaps the goal is simply to split the fediverse into essentially two sides, the Threads side and the non-Threads side

Yes exactly.

I'm unsure how boosts work in this scenario, perhaps those instances are concerned that they'll see Threads content when mastodon.social or other Threads-federated instances users boost it, or that their content will be boosted to Threads users?

Again, spot on.

Consider this:
pure.social blocks evil.meta, but doesn’t block mastodon.social.

A user on pure.social posts something publicly, and since they have a follower on mastodon.social, the pure.social server sends the post to mastodon.social, but doesn’t send it to evil.meta because they're defederated on pure.social.

A user on mastodon.social sees the post and boosts it, and since that user has a follower on evil,meta, the mastodon.social server sends the boost to evil.meta (because evil.meta is not defederated on mastodon.social), and tells the server about the original post from pure.social.

evil.meta receives the boost, and downloads the content of the post from pure.social. pure.social allows evil.meta to download the post because it doesn’t know who is asking.

Beyond the fact that evil.meta was able to see posts from pure.social even though they are defederated, there's also a problem where people on evil.meta start replying to the post - and while the OP on pure.social does not see what they're saying, they might see "half" of the discussion from the replies the user on mastodon.social posts.

This is of course a bit of a moot point, because the OP on pure.social posted it as "public" - and public things on the Internet... well..

I personally think Meta should be banned and regulators should tear the whole company apart. So I'm not too sad about people blocking them. I do think it's a bit premature at this point though. We haven't seen their ActivityPub implementation yet as it didn't roll out with the release version. So I am in the "defederate the shit out of them, but wait and see first"-boat.

vaguerant avatar

Thanks, this is extremely thorough and easy to understand. Very well put. I can see how for anyone with sufficient distrust of Meta and its users, it makes sense to defederate anybody who might serve as a relay between them.

In the meantime, I hope kbin can catch up before Threads starts federating, so I can just interact with people from here. Currently, there's people who I can't see/can't see me from kbin, not due to defederation but simple bugs in kbin's current ActivityPub implementation. If/when mastodon.social gets defederated, there's people I won't have any mechanism to speak to without registering a third account somewhere in the fediverse.

EnglishMobster, (edited )
EnglishMobster avatar

Yep, a lot of my old friends and co-workers aren't on Mastodon. I'm seeing them pop up on Threads.

I really want to be able to follow my friends and interact with my friends and - from my perspective - it's this vocal minority loudly saying "YOU DON'T NEED TO TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS, LET'S SPLIT THE FEDIVERSE".

It makes no goddamn sense. If the fedipact holds you're just going to have two separate fediverses now and users are going to fragment. I'd rather interact with my IRL friends than a bunch of nerds talking to each other on Mastodon about the last time they showered. I get that they're trying to avoid "embrace, extend, extinguish" but splitting the fediverse into 2 is actively worse.

EEE is all about a corporation making a product that (to an average user) is better than the free alternative, and making it hard for the free alternative to keep up and maintain parity. Over time, people will leave the free version and go to the corpo version and the free version will have nothing on it but diehard nerds.

Defederating from the corpo instances is literally identical. All these people are just going to shoot themselves in the foot. You are giving people the option of "talk to all of your friends and celebrities" or "talk to us, a bunch of overbearing control freaks who jump at shadows". Of course people are going to choose their friends and leave behind the strangers they hardly know. If the fedipact has its way, Mastodon's core users will dwindle and dwindle until it's just the hardcore. Note that this is the exact same outcome as EEE, but Meta didn't have to lift a finger.

Don't mistake me for someone who likes Meta, mind. I hate the Zuck. Not as much as I hate Elon, but I do not like Zuckerberg. But I'm given the chance to use FOSS stuff to talk to my friends? I can use apps like Fedilab and swap between Threads and Mastodon? I can follow Threads users from here on Kbin? Threads users can subscribe to my magazines and make posts?

I'd much rather make Facebook work on EEE than do it to ourselves for free.

hetscop avatar

The way I see it, you can still talk to your friends by making a threads account (or an account on an instance that federates with meta). If meta EEE's the whole fediverse, you won't have the ability to talk to unshowered strangers free of big corporations anymore.

If we buy that the reason for meta joining ActivityPub is to EEE it, that means that meta sees the fediverse as a potential future competitor that they want to nip in the bud. I would rather leave that bud un-nipped and give it a chance to one day become an actual thorn in metas side, die out on its own terms or remain a niche community for freedom oriented tech-savvy nerds.

osarusan avatar

So... I hear you. But think about where it leads if there isn't a unified fight against Meta.

I see two possible scenarios:

  1. Meta is acting in good faith, and they have no intention to EEE, and you get to interact with your friends on Meta/Threads/whatever forever.

  2. You get to act with your friends for the short term, they get used to Threads, Meta gains a lot of traction and a huge chunk of the fediverse as it uses its huge sway and deep pockets to swallow up all the small servers... and then it defederates with everyone who isn't on Meta, and not only can you not talk with your friends anymore, but also there's so few people left to talk to because all the other instances have been swallowed up by Meta. You're left with no choice but to join Meta if you want to talk with your friends.

It's not that far fetched. Look at what happened with XMPP and Google Talk. I used to use Pidgin and talk with everyone using XMPP. Then Google shut it down and everyone went over to Google Talk/Chat/Hangouts/whatever the fuck it is now. Who is using XMPP these days??? It still exists, sure, but.....

EnglishMobster avatar

I'm aware of the history - I used XMPP myself, for a long long time. I'm mad it's effectively gone.

Heck, on my Windows Phone once upon a time I could have chats with SMS, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts all without leaving the stock native texting app. One by one they all broke and faded away.

But my point is - is the fedipact a better outcome?

My thought is no, it isn't. The intention of the fedipact is to split the fediverse in two - the side that federates with corporations, and the side that doesn't.

But the issue is that in splitting the fediverse when it's still so young and fragile, you're going to inherently kill it. Even if people maintain accounts on both sides of the divide, time is finite. People will make a choice to participate in one side of the fediverse or the other, knowingly or not.

My gut tells me people are going to want to go where the network effect is strongest. They're going to go where they know the people, where Wil Wheaton or Arnold Schwarzenegger might randomly pop up in the replies to a post.

And this is going to cause people to choose the side of the fediverse that gives them that interaction. Some may still choose to stay true to the fedipact - just as people do still use XMPP and IRC - but if the fedipact goes as intended, the fediverse will splinter and most people will go to the side with their friends.

I don't see how that world where the fedipact is successful is any different than the option 2 you laid out. The fedipact has caused 2 fediverses: one that has lost the network effect and is beginning to decay; the other dominated by a corporation. The fedipact side will have few people left because everyone left to talk to their friends on Meta.

The only way forward is to hope for option 1. Is it foolish? Maybe. Meta is a corporation that wants money. XMPP died a bad death. You can even argue that email is dead as an open protocol now - ever try sending an email message on your own server?

But we can hope for a situation like what we're seeing with ZigBee/Matter where an open, clear standard is maintained. And maybe that'll change in a decade, but the only thing the fedipact does is remove any hope for that at all.

PabloDiscobar avatar

Please Zuckerberg, save the fediverse!


I agree. I think people who support the fedipact greatly underestimate the network effect. To be honest, I think this place is never going to get big--it has the same issues that Linux desktop has. It'll only ever be used by a small niche group. I still have some hope but it's quickly draining.


What frustrates me is that it makes total sense for people who want their own corner of the fediverse to defederate liberally and keep their community small. Not every instance is trying to be Reddit; some are basically a special-interests messageboard.

But the fedipact is not a group of people building their own more private network, it's just culture war and bullying. Instead of being a positive, it's all negative.


Where is this "fedipact" and how do I sign?

vaguerant avatar

Anti-Meta Fedi Pact, you fill in a web form saying you're an instance owner with your instance admin name and at some point you should be added to list (manually).

I think it just runs on good faith, I don't think there's any verification that you are who you say you are.

PabloDiscobar avatar
asjmcguire avatar

I mean I find it quite ironic really that The fediverse has been screaming about how threads/meta will destroy the fediverse, but in reality - it is the fediverse destroying itself from the inside with this nonsense take.

And really - who wants to be part of that, it's actually batshit when you take a step back and think about what is being said:

"I don't want anything to do with X and I don't want anything to do with anyone else who has anything to do with X either"

OK, right now it's meta. But let's talk about lemmy, there are people on the fediverse who think the creators of lemmy are problematic - so what happens when we get "I don't want to associate with lemmy.world but also I don't want to associate with anyone else who does associate with lemmy.world"

Some instances defeded mastodon.social for problematic moderation, but they did not defed other instances that do still federate with mastodon.social.

It seems like an extreme reaction, and if the fediverse does die, it will be the fediverse itself that implodes rather than being destroyed from any company on the outside.

wagesj45 avatar

it is the fediverse destroying itself from the inside

welcome to the fediverse :3

PabloDiscobar avatar

lemmy never asked for an NDA, facebook asked for an NDA. This is your difference right there.

fedi admins meeting with Meta under NDAs is shit, that's what it is. It's effectively giving Meta power over fedi, by giving Meta power over what fedi admins can and cannot share with their communities.

Why did they sign an NDA, tell us!


I see this fediverse thing as anticorporate, so it's why I don't find the association with companies like META alluring. There's a reason why I try to avoid META services, and don't have accounts on places like facebook or instagram. If an instance is part of META then I'd be asking myself what's the difference from me having an account with META?

I find corporate take over more troubling than the personal politics of some users, since that's the type presence that can completely change the reason for a platform's existence. Regardless of individual beliefs I think lot of people on the fediverse see corporations as the main enemy, and with any conflict between each other becoming secondary should and when META make a move. This includes instances that want to defederate from each other, since META is like some world ending big boss enemy everyone is in danger of.


Is not instances that don't sign the fedipact, as there are instances that haven't signed it, but are still blocking Meta-owned instances.

It's instances with admins that actively chose to federate with Meta that will get defederated, why? because even if a server defederates from Meta owned servers, if another server they federate with is federating with Meta, Meta still has access to data and information coming from the first defederating server.

My mastodon account is in a instance that signed the pact. This server already limits Mastodon.Social, but as the federation is not suspended, but rather limited, a user from my server, myself included, can interact with people on Mastodon.Social if we follow each other/I follow them or we are in the same group.

This mean that if my acquaintance on mastodon.social interacts with a post of mine, even if people on Threads cannot directly see my post, they still can see and interact with the comment made by that mastodon.social account. That way Meta gets data from all the people and servers that interacted with my posts.

So, the only way to really stop Meta from gaining data and information about and from users and servers defederating from them is to also defederate from servers that are openly supporting federating with Meta.

the_thunder_god avatar

You do your own thing....defederate if you wish....but don't let Threads kill the Fediverse because you wanted to control an instance you're not on.

Doom_Cough avatar

I think it may be time to just delete all online accounts and only use internet for streaming video and audio or shopping/banking. Doing anything social online has been grossly monetized and I hate it. If fediverse gets attacked by yet another megacorp, I'm out I have no fight or energy left. Been online since dialup bbs, ran my own, forums and personal sites too. Plenty of IRC channels and other communities. But I just don't care anymore. I have very few IRL friends and pretty much zero online anymore as they all settled into FB and I ditched out years ago. Dropping this really isn't more than nuking a distraction. I still have a lot of unread books. Shrug.


TIL there is a “fedipact”

laurens avatar

People threatening to defederate from mastodon.social is a core part of the mastodon experience. Nothing new, and happens around pretty much every drama.


But in this particular case, it’s how the fediverse kills itself. By demanding a monolithic approach, ironically.

PabloDiscobar avatar

If you think that 16 million users day 1 is business as usual then you are naive.



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  • atypicaloddity,

    30mil users already, as per Zuck himself on Threads.


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