First look at what opting a Threads account into the fediverse will look like

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

This (shockingly low res) view went up yesterday and shows what the user experience will be like for Threads users when they want to opt into the fediverse.

There are so many interesting details here, and honestly I think Meta is doing a fantastic job with how this is being implemented. That said, there are of course a few asterisks that I really hope are still on the roadmap.

First, I know that making this opt-in is annoying for those of us who want to be able to follow everything on Threads via Mastodon, but honestly, suddenly opting 130+ million people into posting their content elsewhere seems pretty user hostile. Places like Mastodon have this sort of idea built into them, but it's going to be a new idea to most Threads users.

That said, the modal they show users who do venture into this setting seems to do a pretty decent job of explaining what the fediverse is. It's a tough thing to do, and people like me have tried to do it in many more words than would fit in a small modal. It's not going to make complete sense to everyone, but it's good to see they try to explain it rather than just making it a scary switch users won't know if they should flip or not.

It sounds like at first Threads users who opt into federation will be able to see likes and boosts of their posts from non-Threads accounts, but replies won't come through yet. Again, annoying, but will surely be fixed in time. My expectation here is that one draw of federating will be your increased reach to more people, so broadcasting your posts to more people will have value to some, even if you can't hear what fediverse people say back. Annoying, but baby steps…

They mention a 5 minute delay until Threads posts get sent to ActivityPub. This seems to be aligned with the 5 minute window you have to edit posts (too short a window IMO, but that's another story). Maybe they reduced scope of delivery for this iteration by not supporting edits over ActivityPub, but that's just a wild guess.

While this is good progress, and I'm happy to see my mild inside info that Meta was always serious about federating despite skepticism from many Mastodon users, there is still some key functionality we're still waiting for. Replies from Mastodon showing in Threads is a big one, and bigger still is the ability to follow and interact with Mastodon users from the Threads app. Once this rolls out, you'll be able to follow my Threads account @[email protected] from Mastodon, but Threads users won't be able to follow my @[email protected] account on Threads. One would assume this is coming, but it's absent from this planned release.

The other big thing missing is account portability. I was able to move from over to my own server a year ago and I was able to bring all my followers with me. That is not implemented in Threads' federation yet. What I'm looking forward to is the ability to migrate my Threads followers over to my Mastodon account so I can reach everyone who follows me without needing to cross-post. This is probably one of the last things on their todo list, not because it lets Threads users leave, but because it doesn't really make sense until there's a more complete integration with ActivityPub.

Once again, it's not the complete ActivityPub integration many of us have been waiting for, but it's good to see progress. I'll be turning this one as soon as it's available on my account, but honestly there's no reason to follow my Threads account from any other ActivityPub service, just follow my real social home on the internet: @[email protected]

See you on the fediverse, nerds ❤️