Facebook, Fosstodon & The Fediverse
This is Fosstodon's official stance on the whole Facebook joining the Fediverse debacle.
TL;DR (if you can’t be bothered reading all of the below) - Fosstodon will wait and see what happens, but if Facebook’s new service introduces any issues that could negatively impact our users, we will defederate.
Mike and I have been asked, multiple times, about what Fosstodon’s position is on Facebook potentially joining the Fediverse.
If you’re not aware, the TL;DR is that Facebook, or their parent company, Meta, is planning to create a Twitter clone that will support ActivityPub (more here). That means that Facebook, or some semblance of it, could be coming to a Mastodon instance near you.
Needless to say, this has a lot of folk on Mastodon a little worried - hence the constant stream of messages to myself and Mike asking what we, as admins of Fosstodon, plan to do about it.
Truth is, there isn’t that much info out there on how this thing will actually work, or what it will be capable of. Lots of people seem to be concerned about Facebook “getting their info”. Fact is, they can do that now if they really want to - it would be trivial for Facebook to stand something up that hoovers up all the public data that’s on the Fediverse, via API.
And that’s the clincher here - it’s all public data. So the best advice I can give if you’re concerned about your data, is lock down your account and don’t post publicly.
All that being said, here’s what we plan to do if this thing ever sees the light of day:
- As a team, we will review what the service is capable of and what advantages/disadvantages such a service will bring to the Fediverse
- We will then make a determination on whether we will defederate that service
- We will NOT jump on the bandwagon, or partake in the rumour mill that seems to be plaguing the Fediverse at the moment
It’s important to say that neither myself or Mike like anything that Facebook stands for. Neither of us use it, and both of us go to great lengths to avoid it when browsing the web. So if this service introduces any issues that could negatively impact our users, we will defederate.
However, we don’t know what this thing is yet. Hell, we don’t even know if this thing will actually exist yet. So let’s just wait and see.
What if this thing ends up being a service that can allow you to communicate with your friends who still use Facebook, via the Fedi, in a privacy respecting manner. That would be pretty cool, I think; especially when you consider that one of the main concerns with new users on the Fedi is that they can’t find their friends.
We all know Facebook is a privacy vortex of doom so I doubt that would ever happen, but we shall see…
Update 24 June 2023
Mike and I received an email from a Meta representative about an “off the record conversation” that they would like us to attend. We politely declined - for transparancy, the original email and my reply is below.
I’d just like to add that our position on the whole Facebook thing hasn’t changed - we’re not going to jump on the bandwagon, or take any action at this point. We’re just not interested in having any kind of conversations with Meta prior to them (potentially) joining the Fediverse.