Should sh.itjust.works preemptively defederate from Threads?

Threads is the not-so-new reddit-like twitter-like public forum platform by Meta, the same commercial company behind internet behemoths like Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. They’re working on ActivityPub integration so that they can bridge (federate?) with the fediverse. As far as I know, the focus is on Mastodon instances, but in the future that could include Lemmy instances too.

Some have raised the question, worried about the future of the fediverse or even claiming that it goes against its definition.

What do you think should be done?

EDIT: correction

EDIT.2: The Vote is on! Go make your voice heard. You have until Friday the 29th.

Fediverse instances’ status on federation with Threads

  • @ruplicantOP
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    456 months ago

    my take on it is that i am completely against any kind of bridging between the platforms. i do think the fediverse in general is in danger, by being a victim of the “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” strategy

    as many on lemmy, i use this platform because of its decentralized, open-source, not-for-profit nature, and think the whole fediverse community would be in jeopardy if we don’t act

    • @sugar_in_your_tea
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      226 months ago

      Exactly. I’m almost always against defederation, but the risk of EEE is why I’m in favor of preemptively defederating.

      • @CancerMancer
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        26 months ago

        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.

        And that is why I am voting to defed.

    • @ryathal
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      86 months ago

      Defederation is meaningless, what matters is the dev side. Federating doesn’t give them anything they couldn’t get other ways for slightly more effort. The problems come if you allow contributions the greater community doesn’t want to the code itself.

      • @your
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        76 months ago

        My bigger concern is content being overwhelmed by a flood of accounts that have a different online culture from what has grown and is still developing here.

        • @ryathal
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          26 months ago

          I’m less concerned about the culture aspect, but there’s probably some room to improve how federation works at a technical level so smaller instances aren’t crushed if someone subscribes to large communities.

          • @your
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            06 months ago

            This feels like an uninformed take. Have you interacted with people on Mastodon via a Lemmy instance? They’re clueless about the fact that they are replying to a forum post or that there’s more than one thread of the conversation going on that most people can see and interact with. The conversations tend to be awkward.

  • DeepChill
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    446 months ago

    I’m in favour of anything that prevents Meta’s enshittification of everything.

  • Dirk Darkly
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    406 months ago

    Facebook should be quarantined as much as possible.

  • Trojan Ham
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    346 months ago

    I’m for the preemptive de-federation.

  • Captain Aggravated
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    226 months ago

    I have no interest in welcoming Facebook/Meta/Zuckerburg’s Big Goddamn Fucky Wucky Company to the Fediverse. I would vote to defederate from Threads and any instance federated with them.

  • @spacecowboy
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    216 months ago

    If and when Meta becomes “federated”, I 100% will be on team DEFEDERATE.

    • @Socsa
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      106 months ago

      How would another instance inject ads and tracking into this instance? If that’s possible, then that’s a serious security issue far bigger than Facebook, and is the real thing we should be discussing

        • @csm10495
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          16 months ago

          Interesting. I mean they could do this, but would need votes to make it to people’s feeds. Would they spam fake votes to game it? I doubt it; at least as a first run.

          Otherwise I guess unless people sort by newest, they wouldn’t interfere.

          A middle ground for them would be sponsored posted via certain accounts that people could block if they didn’t want to see them. But like I mean a specific set of accounts and not ones they can just add and remove to make new sponsored posts appear. Maybe a sponsored account type that could be blocked at a user level.

          Though all of this is what ifs: I’d say defederate if they don’t play ball responsibly. They aren’t even targeting Lemmy stuff atm. More like Mastodon.

          Honestly federating with threads makes me more likely to use Mastodon. Otherwise very few people I know or care about are on it (Mastodon).

          • @sugar_in_your_tea
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            26 months ago

            spam fake votes

            Why not? They already manipulate their feed on Facebook, why not do it on Threads as well? Yeah, they probably wouldn’t do it at launch, but they’ll probably work it in later.

            That’s not really what I’m worried about though, I’m more worried about my content being used to manipulate other users. I still don’t want to see ads though.

            sponsored posts via certain accounts

            They’ll probably just pay regular users to shill stuff. So ads won’t be “buy X,” but instead “X is great, I use it every day!”

            I doubt they’d make something easily blockable like a unique account type visible to lemmy. Why would they? That would reduce their reach.

            all of this is what ifs

            Sure, but it’s not like there isn’t a ton of evidence to be skeptical. Meta makes almost all of its money through advertising. So they’re going to make advertising a major part of any product they make. That’s what they do, and calling that a “what if” is silly.

            The real question is not if, but how much it’ll impact lemmy. I don’t see any reason to think they won’t try to monetize lemmy users, so why give them the benefit of the doubt?

  • kersplooshA
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    6 months ago

    I’m taking off my admin hat and commenting as a user…

    One minor correction to OP’s post: Threads is a X/Twitter clone, not a Reddit clone.

    I’m in the wait-and-see camp. If Threads someday links to Lemmy, and if it becomes problematic for the function or culture of the platform, then I will be in favor of cutting them off.
    As @[email protected] mentioned, the real risk is that Meta starts steering Lemmy development in its favor. I don’t foresee that happening given that dessalines and nutomic oversee code contributions, and they certainly won’t allow it.

    As an aside, I’m not convinced Threads will last long to begin with. It isn’t looking like the X killer that Meta seemed to be hoping for. Meta has been trying to artificially drive engagement by creating shadow accounts for Facebook/Instagram users, and sticking Threads posts in people’s Facebook feeds. Integrating with Mastodon feels like a further attempt to entice Meta users to adopt a microblogging app that nobody asked for. At this rate it may fizzle and die before they ever get around to interacting with Lemmy.

    • 50gp
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      96 months ago

      can threads not just kill all other instances with their huge number of posts that would come through and hide everything else?

      • @merc
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        166 months ago

        Yeah, even if Meta acts with 100% good will, and the Threads users are wonderful and respectful, Threads is about 50x as big as the entire Fediverse, and Lemmy is a fraction of that Fediverse.

        https://lemmy.whynotdrs.org/post/494473

        Starting out with the floodgates open could lead to Lemmy getting overwhelmed. (Plus, it could cause server costs to skyrocket.)

        It makes the most sense to start out with Threads blocked, then (if Meta is behaving) to allow a trickle in to see how that goes.

        • @[email protected]
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          46 months ago

          This is my main concern. The admins and mods are not ready for floodgates to open like this. And people using and enjoying Lemmy despite its imperfections will be soured quickly by the experience.

    • @Socsa
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      66 months ago

      This is my exact take as well. Defed if there is an issue, but wait and see first. I hate the kneejwrk reaction to circle the wagons here. I have been hating on Facebook for as long as anyone l, but this place badly needs content and users so I am willing to see where this goes.

    • @pelespirit
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      6 months ago

      Ask yourself why do they want to join the fediverse if they don’t get anything out of it? Also, what would they be contributing to the fediverse besides more people. Every time I see more people, it’s not great people, or thoughtful people or even shitty stars, it’s just more people. Crowds help the fediverse how? It’s like going to your quiet cafe and being overwhelmed by the sound of it.

      You’ve probably seen this analogy because I’ve posted it way too much, but I think it really holds true:

      I’ve used this analogy before, but threads is like a huge, 5k passenger cruise ship docking in a small town in Alaska. You don’t have to know ahead of time that the 2 public bathrooms, one at the general store and the other at McDonalds, aren’t going to be enough. You can also forecast the complaining about how everything isn’t really tourist ready. It will suck for everyone. The small museum will be overrun and damaged, the people will be treated like dirt. It’s an easy forecast.

      Here’s the important bit, just because they’ve never been in the cruise line business, doesn’t mean you have to give them a chance to ruin your town.

  • Rosco
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    96 months ago

    Wait and see. As much as I hate Meta, i don’t think we have much to gain by being a walled garden. Maybe we have also much to lose if we federate, who knows. I would not complain much if we defederate. If we do federate, there should be a zero-tolerance policy. If Meta tries some bullshit, or if there’s the slightest doubt, we should defederate immediately.

    • @sbv
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      36 months ago

      This. Lemmy feels too small. If we get decent content from Threads, it’ll be a boost to our communities.

      • @pelespirit
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        16 months ago

        If threads had decent content, why are they federating?

        • @CancerMancer
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          6 months ago

          I wonder how much information they can farm by federating? Facebook and Twitter both have recorded history of significant federal government involvement in their platforms, and collect an ungodly amount of information for commercial purposes too.

          • @starman2112
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            26 months ago

            Is there any useful information they could gather if federated that they can’t just gather with crawlers?

            • @CancerMancer
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              16 months ago

              Not clear but I imagine a decent amount can get crawled. Honestly I think the much bigger threat is the history of big tech using EEE to crush any potential competition.

        • @sbv
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          26 months ago

          Unless we get access to internal documents from Meta, we can only guess at their reasoning.

          As such, their goal shouldn’t directly factor into our decision. If federating with Threads is good for our community, we should do it. If it’s bad, we should either not do it, or defederate.

          • @pelespirit
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            36 months ago

            I still haven’t seen any reasons anyone thought were positive besides more people.

            • @sbv
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              36 months ago

              More people is pretty significant. AFAIU the Lemmy monthly user base is in slow decline.

              At this point, most of my Everywhere feed is bots with occasional posts from people. A minority of posts have comments. I see the same few dozen users commenting on stories.

              Granted, that’s an effect of the instances my host pulls from, but it seems like a bad sign.

              You could make the argument that Threads users might have different interests, but (IMO) that’s secondary to the lack of organic content.

              • @pelespirit
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                26 months ago

                It’s not in serious decline though, I don’t know what numbers you’re talking about. Also, Meta lost 80% in their first month, which I think would make them 20 million users. I looked the other day to find actual numbers, they must be super low because I couldn’t find any, zilch, nada that were current. We’re at around 1.5 million, we’re doing fine. Next reddit fuck-up will probably double it. We honestly couldn’t handle too much more anyway plus threads doesn’t provide us any with content, we’re the zoo.

    • @ruplicantOP
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      46 months ago

      oh shhh…people, today is friday, the day to open up votes here in The Agora. but this discussion has only been up for less than 2 days

      is it too soon to start a vote? should we wait for the next week? i don’t want to press anyone but feel some urgency about this issues since, in case we defederate, it should be done at rhe start od this process, it seems to me

      • @your
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        16 months ago

        I don’t see how rushing a vote would have been better.

  • @PrincessLeiasCat
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    66 months ago

    Serious question - I’m not up to speed on what kind of effort goes into defederating/refederating. If it’s easy, then is “wait and see” an option?

    Alternatively, is preemptively defederating now and refederating later if we want also an option?

    If both options are on the table, I say wait and see just because it’s unexplored territory though I agree that it probably won’t be great. If it’s a big pain in the ass to change our stance, also wait and see; that way we only have to do the PITA thing once.

    • @sugar_in_your_tea
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      46 months ago

      If it’s easy

      It is, there’s basically a setting on the server to block certain instances. So the admin would just update that setting to enable/disable federation. However, defederation doesn’t delete any data on either side, it just stops the flow of new data.

      So if you care about Meta having a copy of all content for some period, the better option is to defederate now and refederate later if they somehow play nice. There is a risk that Threads could defederate from any instances that blocked it, but I’m guessing they’re not going to bother, I think they’re just looking for data to scrape.

      • @Barbarian
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        6 months ago

        It’s actually relatively trivial to scrape the public data of any instance. If Meta really cared (which I highly doubt), there’s nothing stopping them spinning up a temporary instance with a bot that auto-subscribes to all communities it knows about.

        Defederating from threads doesn’t change the fact that all information on any instance is pseudonymous, but very public.

        • @sugar_in_your_tea
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          16 months ago

          Sure, but they have to actively do that, whereas federation just gives it to them. I want them to have to put in the work to scrape the various instances, not get it for free.

          • @starman2112
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            6 months ago

            Couldn’t they just get an intern to spend an afternoon actively doing that? It can’t be that hard. I’m not a programmer, but it seems to me that if someone has the proficiency to set up an instance, they would have the proficiency to set up crawlers.

            • @sugar_in_your_tea
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              16 months ago

              Probably, but they’ll want to integrate it somehow as well. One of the main points of federation is to get access to more content, which means your users have more stuff to look at, which means you get more data to link interests to ads to improve click-through. Scraping it would just give them the data, but they’d have to recreate it for their users to consume.

              So scraping is only half the battle here.

    • [email protected]
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      26 months ago

      wait and see

      Both are an option and easy enough.

      Honestly, and that’s my personal take as a user not as an admin… I’m in the “wait and see” boat, but I’m nor particularly full of trust about this so my goto would be:

      • Defederate pre-emptively
      • Wait for meta/threads to prove it’s not a shitshow
      • Reconsider federating if/when we get there
  • @[email protected]
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    66 months ago

    Federate, let them get a taste of sweet Lemmy content, then cut them off. Will make the Threads experience feel broken for native Threads users.

    • @starman2112
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      16 months ago

      Will make the Threads experience feel broken for native Threads users.

      Genuinely, why would you want that? It seems pointlessly hostile. Shouldn’t we welcome more users?

      • @[email protected]
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        16 months ago

        For the lulz, obviously. I legitimately forgot Threads exists until this post came up so I’d be hard pressed to honestly claim any meaningful level of investment in the topic.

  • @ryathal
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    66 months ago

    I can’t bring myself to care whether or not someone using a Facebook app can get a shit post in their feed.