DM_Gold, avatar

Great fucking article. Nice look into the history of proprietary software. This part stuck out to me:

But there’s one thing my own experience with XMPP and OOXML taught me: if Meta joins the Fediverse, Meta will be the only one winning. In fact, reactions show that they are already winning: the Fediverse is split between blocking Meta or not. If that happens, this would mean a fragmented, frustrating two-tier fediverse with little appeal for newcomers.

We need to convince instance owners not to federate with Meta. History tends to repeat itself and I'd rather not see this nice little corner of the internet die.

beejjorgensen, avatar

Amen. When people talk about how Reddit or Twitter will always be bigger, I say, "Let them be bigger." What we have out here is fantastic just the way it is. In a global world, "small" is still millions of people.

ledditor, avatar

I remember google also sabotaging firefox by introducing subtle bugs which breaks google sites on firefox but works perfectly on chrome.

TheDeadGuy avatar

Do no evil

What a joke

literalskalitzlooter, avatar

Some features around uploading/managine files between google classroom and google drive is broken in Firefox, LibreWolf. But I suspect it's due to the disabling of 3rd party cookies, because it's also broken on ungoogled-chromium.

Photo loading in google maps is also broken.

NotTheOnlyGamer avatar

As opposed to many of you, I look forward to Meta joining up with ActivityPub. I've learned to embrace Eternal September; and have come to understand the debt I owe to it. Companies win, yes. I haven't used Google chat in years. I don't bother keeping a copy of Gaim/Pidgin on my PC because I don't want to bother talking with anyone in a Jabber chat (Yeah, yeah, it's XMPP now, I started when it was Jabber and I was on the mothership server). Everyone I need to talk to moved from GChat to Skype, and then at some point, from Skype to Discord. They never stopped at Jabber, Mumble, or other OSS options; though some joined me in passing through. As I've said, human nature is opposed to load-balancing. People want to be part of the largest possible community, at least at first.

I would love to have an easy way to talk to local friends again, and have a wide base of information to share with them. If this new system is easier to coordinate local groups with than Meetup is, I'll be joining and becoming a fairly active user. I might keep my Lemmy accounts, my Mastodon account, and my KBin account - just like I'm keeping my Reddit account now.

If servers want to defederate from Facebook, that's their loss.


The Fediverse is bound to come to the attention of big corporations, and if it becomes big enough they will view it as competition and try to crush it. I doubt it can outcompete them in terms of popularity. The best hope has to be coexistence, in which the Fediverse doesn't try to win the most users, but defends its integrity against large corporations entering the space to sabotage it.

The comparison with XMPP may not be conclusive: XMPP is purely a communication protocol, so if not many people use it, not many people can be reached through it and it becomes less useful. Something like Lemmy, by contrast, is not intended to get you in touch with everyone in the world. It can function as long as it has enough users to make it interesting, enough money to pay for servers, and enough skilled developers willing to work on it. It doesn't need huge numbers of users, and it doesn't need to outcompete Reddit or any other corporate platform.

I hope Lemmy can equip itself with good tools for managing trolls and other kinds of attack, including corporate-led sabotage, because those things are likely to come soon. There has been an explosion in bot accounts recently, which are ominously dormant for the time being. If those all get switched on at once, there will be a huge amount of noise and a big increase in traffic. Lemmy needs to prioritize equipping itself to withstand this.

But if Meta enters the space and siphons off a bunch of users, there's no reason the rest of us can't continue here as before, without it. It may be a relatively small community but it can still function.


I think the best outcome is for Fediverse to succeed at proving the model is better for users than mega corps. Then grow and last long enough until the EU takes notice, such that if any bad actors try to ruin it they'd want to protect it. We're probably talking far into the future, but I think if handled well it can get to that point.


I wouldn’t assume the EU would necessarily be interested in protecting the Fediverse. Legislation like the GDPR is very much oriented towards working with corporate entities and the open Fediverse model is generally at odds with the right to be forgotten (since it’s effectively impossible to ensure all copies of a user’s data are deleted - I don’t even think it’s possible to determine which nodes may have a copy of a year old post).

Nerd02, avatar

Couldn't the protocol be updated to be more compliant with the right to be forgotten? Something like, when a user deletes a comment it gets deleted from the DB of every federated instance. Sure enough, admins might have made backups and that would theoretically go against the GDPR but still... you can only apply these laws to a certain extent. It's the same as you posting a picture on Facebook, me downloading it and you deleting it afterwards. Even if you were to make a GDPR request to Meta you still couldn't get the picture on my PC. But that's not Meta's fault, they can't do much about that.

QHC avatar

I assume the parent commenter referred to the EU because they seem to be the only governing body on the planet with enough influence and an actual desire to actually stand up to major corporations. The US sure ain't going to be doing it, and the list of other options is essentially zero, so that's the only hope we have in terms of legal protections or regulations.

RandoCalrandian avatar

The right to be forgotten can be argued as being even stronger in the fediverse.

Yes, you can't delete the content that you created, but you can delete the account associated with them, edit them, etc. with far more control than any corporate system gives you.

No there isn't a button to just "delete all things related to me" as some people want, but that wasn't what the right to be forgotten was about.

People knew the technical limitations of it from the start, the problem was that when users would take actions they thought deleted their content, private code would very much not delete it.

There is no such illusion here on the fediverse


If the Fediverse takes off, it would be fair to expect that new mega corps would arise out of that success. At one point, Reddit was a scrappy startup. Before that, Facebook, Google, and even Microsoft were small companies that were going to change the world. Who knows which high user, high uptime instances will end up requiring full time staff, or which software tools will be used for interfacing with the Fediverse (or analyzing stats within the Fediverse), or otherwise make a profit out of all the activity that would be going on here?


Yes, and if it becomes really big, then every federated instance would find itself coping with large amounts of traffic passed to and from the big instances, and it will become difficult to run a small operation cheaply. At that point, only the big players with big money will be able to run sites in the Fediverse and it could end up mirroring what has happened to the rest of the internet.

On balance I think it's best if existing Fediverse instances don't federate with the big corporations. But there are still other ways the corporations could sabotage this place, so the developers and the site admins need to be ready.

rm_dash_r_star, avatar

if it becomes really big, then every federated instance would find itself coping with large amounts of traffic passed to and from the big instances, and it will become difficult to run a small operation cheaply

I think that' where the biggest threat lies. How is a small operator going to keep up with the demands of a corporate server cluster with millions of users. A small operator would have to defederate. That puts us back to the crux of the original question, should corpos be allowed on the Fediverse. Why not save everyone the circle jerk and blacklist them from the start.

A secondary threat is corporate sabotage of the ActivityPub protocol. They already have a track record of doing that to free and open standards.

00 avatar

But if Meta enters the space and siphons off a bunch of users, there's no reason the rest of us can't continue here as before, without it. It may be a relatively small community but it can still function.

It could lead to fracturing. If, for example, different forks of the software showed it with varying degrees of giving into Metas direction, that could fracture the community. Or simply the question of how to cope with the new imbalance.

You cant have a curve ball being thrown into traffic and expect your car comes out fine just because you are closing your eyes.

QHC avatar

But fracturing is not necessarily a death sentence. I don't necessarily want a billion users part of my echo chamber.

Kaldo avatar

Have you actually read the article? That is literally how it first started for XMPP.

And because there were far more Google talk users than "true XMPP" users, there was little room for "not caring about Google talk users". Newcomers discovering XMPP and not being Google talk users themselves had very frustrating experience because most of their contact were Google Talk users. They thought they could communicate easily with them but it was basically a degraded version of what they had while using Google talk itself. A typical XMPP roster was mainly composed of Google Talk users with a few geeks.

And once google separated completely,

As expected, no Google user bated an eye. In fact, none of them realised. At worst, some of their contacts became offline. That was all. But for the XMPP federation, it was like the majority of users suddenly disappeared. Even XMPP die hard fanatics, like your servitor, had to create Google accounts to keep contact with friends. Remember: for them, we were simply offline. It was our fault.

QHC avatar

The big difference is that the Fediverse, like Reddit and Digg before it, are not communication platforms between individual that know each other IRL.. They are content sharing and discussion platforms. The content that mainstream Meta or Twitter users are interested in and generating is largely not what I am interested in, so how is it a bad thing if most of them disappear from my platform?

Plenty of us have already gone through the most painful part of the transition and are now focused on building something new. If we can do that once, we can do it again, but it'll be even easier to divorce from Meta if I don't care about what I'm "losing" in the split.

RandoCalrandian avatar

there's no reason the rest of us can't continue here as before, without it.

That's OP's point. They won't just siphon users. They will profit off of our content, while providing nothing in return, and intentionally breaking things to ensure the network never grows larger than a certain amount.

Offers for help should be treated the same as offers from a country you are actively at war with. No instances should federate with any Meta own/operated/controlled system. To do otherwise is suicide for the fediverse.

We should also avoid building on technologies they control. Even if OSS, they can knowingly introduce bugs in updates that only break fediverse tech and not meta tech. Which is exactly what the examples in the posted article did. Microsoft did exactly this, to ensure dominance in document file formats.

It seems really stupid from our perspective. Maliciously petty, but our paychecks don't depend on the success of the fediverse, while theirs does depend on it's failure.

These are not compatible communities, due to the owners of one.

tinselpar, avatar

It baffles me that so many don't see it for what it is.

Meta contacts their competitor, and says that they want to build a competing product, and want us as competitor to help them with that. How can you possibly fall for that. Meta can already use activitypub for whatever they are building without any need to contact anyone from the Fediverse. The only possible reason they contact instance admins is because Meta wants to dictate the terms on how to Fediverse operates.

flakusha, avatar

That should be in the FAQ

0x1C3B00DA, avatar

I’ve never really understood the EEE argument here. XMPP was an open proptocol, Google embraced it and attracted users, then extended it and took those users away. But according to this article, Google didn’t extinguish XMPP. It’s still around and serving its niche community.

That’s already the situation the fediverse is in. This is a niche community and there are already existing social media companies that the majority of internet users are on. If Facebook joins the fediverse, it brings billions of new users to the fediverse. If they then leave the fediverse, ActivityPub will still be here and all of us on the real fediverse will still be here, in a niche community. Everyone here has already chosen the fediverse despite it being a clunky, unpolished, niche network. How is EEE a relevant fear for the fediverse?

Ropianos, avatar

Well, isn't that sort of mentioned in the article?

If fediverse development slows down e.g. because adoption of inofficial Facebook extensions takes time it will harm the whole platform. Not by directly taking away users but by blocking progress.

I don't think the Fediverse is small enough for this to be a serious concern. Especially once multiple companies (Tumblr?) are invested in the fediverse I don't see this happening anymore.


I'm usually one who doesn't buy into conspiracy theories; however, at this point I believe the Reddit protests actually (I hate this meme) broke the internet.

Reddit was the "idiot cousin that causes minimum annoyance occasionally, that hasn't really hurt the advertising line much" for so long, that they all became dependent on the free, moderated, and literal fact checked by people it effects data for so long. That now, after the last weeks, of all the deleting, rewriting, restoring, rewriting, restoring, and rewriting again that all their cached data, and reddits "current" data is now worthless.

The super funny thing is, all the AI's are still pulling data from reddit, they are going to have to cull and sanitize all data and every connection to it, and can also never trust it again... Because many many many people actually care about being part of a community, and will continue to modify/poison their previous comments to keep corps and their mindless "AI" from their "OWNED CONTENT."

0x1C3B00DA, avatar

Yes I read that and explained why I don’t think its relevant. Facebook can’t slow down progress on the fediverse because:

  1. progress is already slow. The fediverse has been in development for 15 years and still is a clunky, niche network and likely will always be less polished than large corporate networks.
  2. Every developer on the fediverse is aware of the EEE playbook and next to none of them will try to remain compatible with any corporate extensions.
Ropianos, avatar
  1. What do you mean? Progress is already slow so any additional slow down will seriously harm the fediverse precisely because of the limited resources IMHO.
  2. I'm not quite as optimistic as you but yeah, I don't think it will be easy for Facebook and if they misjudge it they will end up making a competitor stronger by bringing more attention to it.

It's in the article but to paraphrase it:

When a large company takes an open protocol, embraces it using adding users to the network through heir platform, then extends it using proprietary means, they have full control over how the protocol runs in the network.

When the open standards are forced to make changes to be functional with the dominant proprietary app that is poorly (and sometimes incorrectly) documented, open source groups are constantly on the backfoot in order to maintain compatibility, and that makes it harder to compete on their own right.

A second example given is LibreOffice, whose documents are made to fit the XML standard by Microsoft, but there are quirks in their documented standard that if you follow it too closely it isn't formatted quite the same as the document produced in Microsoft Office, so they were pressured to effectively copy MS and deviate from the standards MS claims to follow.

great_meh, avatar

Great Article. Meta brings nothing I want to ever see. Dont federate with them.

cothrige, avatar

But the Fediverse is not looking for market dominance or profit. The Fediverse is not looking for growth. It is offering a place for freedom. People joining the Fediverse are those looking for freedom. If people are not ready or are not looking for freedom, that’s fine. They have the right to stay on proprietary platforms. We should not force them into the Fediverse. We should not try to include as many people as we can at all cost. We should be honest and ensure people join the Fediverse because they share some of the values behind it.

This above is, I think, a very important attitude that is all too often thrown aside in the search for success. So many have dreamed of the "year of the Linux desktop," but I have never shared that desire; and it is largely for fear of what is being referenced above. I like those peculiar freedoms of Linux and other open source software projects. If it, or other such projects, were to take a truly significant market share I feel it would almost certainly start becoming what it opposed. I want the freedom and the honesty of such projects to remain, even if (possibly because?) they are somewhat niche, geeky and not entirely newbie friendly.


I'd rather federate with Google plus. I need to get back in touch with my old circles. ;)

sr3, avatar

@Niello great article. Thanks for the share.

callyral, avatar

it's better to have a small place with nice people rather than a big place full of bad people


I hope the Fediverse chooses not to play the larger corpos game and minimizes their influence at all stages. I forget where I saw it posted but just like linux, the Fediverse doesn't need to rush success. It will be successful, because what large corporations offer as social media is dreadful. Sooner or later all of them force some form of poison pill through their platform. Your content doesn't need to be commodified into product. No one owns your content and no one should be able to push content/ ads on you that you do not approve of. We may need to pay a little something for this freedom, and that's cool. Free as in freedom & not as in beer. Long live the fediverse or what ever currently holds to those values.

NotTheOnlyGamer avatar

Sure, and 2023 will finally be the year of Linux Desktop.

fernandofig, avatar

Maybe I’m bitter, and I know a lot of people wouldn’t agree with this, but honestly? I think the non-corporate part of the Fediverse should just assume malice from the get go and preemptively defederate from whatever Meta put out. That way nothing’s changed - Meta would essentially have a private / proprietary / isolated network, as far as users are concerned (much like Facebook already is), and even if the Fediverse will see less growth in the short term because of that, there will be no confusion on where everybody stands.

E: Well, thankfully and as expected, I’m not the only one to think this way: FediPact is an Organized Effort to Block Meta’s ActivityPub Platform

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