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Zuck Just Entered The Fediverse: Here’s What That Means

Mark Zuckerberg made his first post in the “fediverse” on Thursday. If you have no idea what the hell that means, join the club. The fediverse is a relatively new concept for social networking, and Threads became the largest member of it this week. Millions of Threads users will soon be able to opt in and “federate” their posts. I know that was a lot of gibberish, but here’s what that means.

“First post in the fediverse,” said the Meta CEO in a Thursday post on Threads. “If you see this and turn it on from your profile, you’ll see likes from federated platforms appear on your posts here.”

The fediverse is an interconnected universe of social media apps. Think of the fediverse like a solar system where every social media app is its own planet. Each planet has an antenna that allows them to communicate with one another. Threads and Mastodon are currently the two biggest apps in the fediverse, but there are many smaller ones.

Threads’ description of how the fediverse works.
Screenshot: Meta

When you post on Threads, your post will appear on other social media apps in the fediverse, such as Mastodon. Mastodon users can then like your post, and you’ll see those likes on your original post on Threads. The idea is to allow interoperability between apps, whereas currently, everything just exists in its own universe.

Imagine liking a TikTok on Facebook, or replying to a tweet on Instagram. That’s the ultimate idea, though these bigger apps aren’t part of the fediverse. For now, Threads is only letting other apps see Threads posts, and send likes, so it’s not fully integrating just yet. One of Zuckerberg’s apps joining the fediverse is kind of a big deal because the network was created to oppose mainstream platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

The fediverse only has 13 million accounts in its network, according to its website. It started in the early 2000s to address the highly fragmented social media landscape. It’s often described as a decentralized social networking protocol, and the main goal is to make the internet more connected.

In addition to Threads and Mastodon, most of its members are small social media sites such as Friendica, Lemmy, PeerTube, Pleroma, Funkwhale, and frankly, a lot of other apps I’ve never heard of.

The idea of the fediverse sounds cool, but it upends everything we know about social media apps. Many people are on specific apps for the vibe, or they like the algorithm, but an interoperable network of apps completely changes that.

So why would Zuck add his humungous app, with 130 million users, to this small network? He could be trying to strengthen a network of apps that oppose Elon Musk’s X, which almost definitely wouldn’t join the fediverse. He also could be using the fediverse to get more likes and eyes on Threads posts, which has struggled to keep users interested.

Regardless of why Zuck is moving the way he is, the fediverse is bound to grow significantly with Threads’ adoption. The fediverse aims to bring the internet back to its roots, and maybe with the support of the Meta CEO, it actually can. However, he does have a history of embracing big ideas that don’t go anywhere, like the metaverse. It’s possible the fediverse could end up like that as well.

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