Zuckerberg Embraces Fediverse After Metaverse Setbacks, Meta Joins

Zuckerberg Embraces Fediverse After Metaverse Setbacks, Meta Joins

Meta shifts gears by joining the fediverse with Instagram and Threads, aiming to empower users with greater control over their online presence and content amidst past criticisms.

After his hopes for a metaverse failed, Mark Zuckerberg placed his bets on a new digital realm called the fediverse, which officially welcomed Instagram and Threads on Thursday. In a post, Meta stated that the ultimate goal of the move was to give “people greater control over their online identity and the content they see, regardless of their chosen platform.”

It’s also deemed a smart marketing move to position Meta as a social media platform for its users, given that Meta has come under fire for failing in other areas.

Threads enters the fediverse

The first iteration of Threads was completed in a matter of months. With the help of a quick engineering team and Meta’s already-existing scalable infrastructure, Threads became Meta’s most successful app launch ever.

They are currently integrating the fediverse with Threads. Users of Threads who are 18 years of age or older and have public profiles can now opt to federate their profiles. This feature allows users to share their posts to other ActivityPub-compliant servers, where other users can follow, like, reply, and repost their posts. The beta experience is available in a few countries, including the US.

Developing a federated platform has presented new opportunities and challenges for engineering, as it is Meta’s first open social networking app. 

There are particular interoperability issues and challenges when designing for the fediverse that must be resolved on the server end. 

The fediverse

Compared to the metaverse, the fediverse is arguably more complex, but it is also more grounded in reality. It is an amalgam of the terms “universe” and “federation.” A collection of social networks with cross-platform communication and collaboration capabilities is known as the fediverse. According to Meta;

One way to think about the fediverse is to compare it to email. You can send an email from a Gmail account to a Yahoo account, for example, because those services support the same protocols. Similarly, in the fediverse you can connect with people who use different social networking services that are built on the same protocol, removing the silos that confine people and their followers to any single platform. But unlike email, your fediverse conversations and profile are public and can be shared across servers.

Stated differently, the concept involves allowing a user to engage with posts from one social media platform (such as Threads) on another (such as Mastodon, which is another platform that is comparable to X). Every social media app would be connected in an ideal fediverse, allowing users to like a tweet on Facebook and receive TikTok notifications on Instagram.

Meta has joined a fediverse instance that utilises the ActivityPub service. Other services like Farcaster, Nostr, and Bluesky’s AT Protocol can also be used to power fediverses. As of right now, ActivityPub is the most widely used and is probably going to become the industry standard.

The fediverse is primarily about connecting already-existing internet tools rather than building an entirely new digital world, whereas the metaverse is a 3D digital space (or virtual reality), similar to walking around inside of the internet (if you’re wearing VR headsets).

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.