There have been a lot of posts and comments recently about Facebook entering the fediverse, and how different instances will handle it. Many people have asked me to commit to pre-emptively defederating from Threads before they even implement ActivityPub.
The lemm.ee federation policy states that it's not a goal for lemm.ee to curate content for our users, but we will certainly defederate any server which aims to systematically break our rules. I want to point out here that Facebook makes essentially all of its money from advertising, and lemm.ee has a no advertising rule - basically, Facebook has a built-in financial incentive to break our rules. ActivityPub has no protections against advertising, so it's likely we will end up having to eventually defederate from Threads just for this reason alone.
However, I would still like to get a feel for how many people in our instance are actually excited for potential federation with Threads. While personally I feel that any theoretical pros are by far outweighed by cons, I do want to use this opportunity to see how much of the community disagrees with me. I am not intending to run this instance as a democracy (sorry if anybody is disappointed by that), but I would still like to have a clear picture of user feedback for potentially major decisions such as this one. This is why I am asking every user who wants lemm.ee to federate with Facebook to please downvote this post.
Here are some reasons why I personally believe that Threads will have a negative effect on the fediverse
- As mentioned above, Facebook is completely driven by ad revenue. There is nothing stopping them from sending out ads as posts/comments with artificially inflated scores, which would ensure that their ads end up on the "all" page of federated servers.
- Threads already has more users than all Lemmy instances combined. Even if their algorithms don't apply to the rest of the fediverse directly, they can still completely dictate what the "all" page will look like for all instances by simply controlling what their own users see and vote on.
- Moderation does not seem to be a priority for Threads so far, meaning that they would create massive moderation workloads for smaller instances.
- In general, Facebook has shown countless times that they don't have their users best interests in mind. They view users as something to exploit for revenue. There are probably ways they are already thinking about hurting the fediverse that we can't even imagine yet.
By the way, we're not really in any rush today with our decision regarding federation
- Threads does not have ActivityPub support yet today
- Even if they add ActivityPub support, their UX is geared towards Mastodon-like usage - it seems unlikely that there would ever be proper interoperability between Threads and Lemmy
- We don't really know what to defederate from - it's completely possible that "threads.net" will not be their ActivityPub domain at all.
So go ahead and downvote if you feel defederation would be a mistake, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! It would be super helpful to me if folks who are in favor of federating with Threads could leave a comment explaining their reasoning.
By now, it's clear that there is a group of users who are in favor of federating with Threads. The breakdown is like this (based on downvotes):
- lemm.ee users: 136 in favor of federating with Threads
- Others: 288 in favor of federating with Threads
While it seems to be a minority, it's still quite a few users. There is no way to please all users in this situation - any decision I make will certainly inconvenience some of you, and I apologize for that.
A big thanks to everybody who has shared opinions and arguments in comments so far. I think there are several well written comments that have been unfairly downvoted, but I have personally read all comments and tried to respond to several as well. I will keep reading them as they come in.
The main facts I am working with right now are as follows:
- The majority of lemm.ee users are strongly opposed to immediately federating with Threads
- Facebook has a proven track record of exploiting users (and a built-in financial incentive to do so)
- We currently lack proper federation/moderation tools to allow us to properly handle rule breaking content from Facebook
Considering all of the above, I believe the initial approach for lemm.ee should be to defederate Threads, and then monitor the situation for a period of time to determine if federating with them in the future is a realistic option
In order to federate with them, the following conditions would need to be fulfilled:
- There needs to be actual interoperability between Threads and Lemmy
- Threads needs to prove that they are not flooding instances with rule-breaking content (mainly ads and bigotry for lemm.ee)
- There needs to be a mechanism to prevent feed manipulation by Threads algorithms (potentially this means discarding all incoming votes from Threads)
Note: this is an initial list, subject to change as we learn more about Threads.
Again, I realize this approach won't please everybody, but I really believe it's the best approach on a whole for now. Please feel free to keep adding comments and keep the discussion going if you think there is something I have not considered.