Making Sense of the Argument Around Meta

The fediverse has seen a large amount of discussion and conversations around Meta joining the fediverse. Meta is planning a new microblogging platform, codenamed P92, as a Twitter competitor, that is supposed to be released this summer. Early June, The Verge released an article that stated that the project will integrate with Instagram, focus on “safety, ease of use, reliability”, and most importantly, integrate with ActivityPub.

Ever since, discussions and conversations around this have been spun up, and sometimes even turning vicious and harmful. In order to make sense of what has been happening, let’s first take a look at the timeline of events:


  • Between June 12th and June 15th: Meta employees have been meeting with admins of large Mastodon servers, including at least Eugen Rochko (Mastodon CEO, admin of and and Byron Miller (admin of This meeting was under NDA, and seems to have mainly centered around discussing the app P92.
  • June 15th: information about the meeting, and the signing of an NDA, starts to spread around the feeds.
  • June 18th: @vantablack starts the fedipact, a place where admins can sign that indicate that their server will not federate with Meta’s servers.
  • June 23rd: @kev, admin of shows an email where admins of Mastodon servers get invited to a roundtable meeting with Meta, as well as his response declining the meeting.
  • June 23rd: Alex Heath reports for The Verge on the issue. He reports that “Meta plans to introduce this phase [ActivityPub support] about three months after the initial release.”
  • June 27th: An off-the-record roundtable meeting between Meta and Mastodon server admins is planned.

Understand the discourse

Understandably, people have lots of different feelings and thoughts about Meta and the fediverse, and the discourse and conversation around this has filled the feeds last week. The conversations can be roughly separated into five different topics. When I say people, I mean a group people on the fediverse of unspecified size.

  • About Meta, and the ethics of the company. People are on the fediverse as a way to not be on social networks that are owned by Big Tech. They distrust these companies, and disagree with the ethics of how companies like Meta run social networks. One case that was commonly cited is Facebook’s involvement in the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. This has crossed a red line for a group of people where they do not want to interact with social networks that involve Meta in any way. The fedipact is an example of this, stating ‘their long track record of pure evil’ as one of the reasons for not federating.
  • About ActivityPub the protocol. Conversations around this centre around the idea that ActivityPub is an open protocol, and the inherent tension in trying to ward off other actors from using a protocol that is supposed to be openly accessible. Daring Fireball’s blog post by John Gruber is an example of this, as well as this response by Ian Betteridge that freedom of associating is what defines Mastodon, not the underlying protocol.
  • About Meta as an adversary. People see Meta as a untrustworthy actor that is trying to either harm or extinguish the fediverse in order to themselves profit by being the dominant player in this space. This is one of the most hotly debated questions on the feeds, where people strongly disagree with each other. They agree about the goal, (defend against facebook), but disagree about the tactic. For some, this means trying to federate with Meta, in order to draw users from Meta towards the fediverse. For others, this means not federating from Meta to create a space that cannot be influenced. A large part of this discussion centres around whether Meta is deploying an ‘Embrace-Extend-Extinguish’ strategy, historical perspectives on earlier corporate influences on open protocols, such as XMPP, and the best strategy to deal with Meta.
  • About the responsibilities of a fediverse server admin. Signing an NDA with Meta came as part of the requirement of holding a meeting with Meta. People felt large trepidation of admins signing such an NDA with Meta. Arguments center around potential liabilities, as well as it going against the culture of openness, as the admins by definition now cannot share information with the community. People felt that this created a rift within the community. Conversations around this have turned vicious at multiple points, to the point of admins getting death threats for signing an NDA.
  • About the fediverse as a community. Other people approached the discussion on a more personal level, where the fediverse is a social network where they can feel safe, because they do not feel safe on large corporate social networks. This image, captioned: “Meta: MAY I JOIN YOU?” by @davidrevoy captures the feeling well:
A digital speedpainting. A giant reaper with a golden chain around their neck with the
logo of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp and » headband with the meta logo. The.
giant silhouette surprise a tiny group in comparison; a warm scene of small cute
characters gathered around a Fediverse glowing logo. This isthe mascott of Mastodon,
Pleroma, Misskey, Funlowhale, Lemmy, Peertube.

Conversations got heated, as people have strong and passionate feelings about this. These strong feelings also took a more negative turn, with people receiving abuse and death threats over simple things as not instantly wanting to defederate from Meta.

Two aspects seem to have contributed to noise in the conversations. First of all, people did not always take into account that they were talking about different topics. When someone wants to discuss whether federating or defederating from Meta is a more effective strategy, telling them that Meta is an unethical company is not always helpful. They already know that, and they are figuring out the best way to deal with them. Neither is it sensitive to tell someone that ActivityPub is an open protocol, and you should thus have an open approach to Meta, when someone is grieving and hurting from the abuse they have experienced before on Meta’s other platforms.

The second part is the conversation of what the best way of dealing with Meta is, whether to pre-emptively defederate from their servers, or to provide some form or managed connection to the fediverse in order to draw users away from P92 into the rest of the fediverse. People on both sides of the argument feel strongly about this, leading to heated discussion. But some crucial facts are still missing in order to settle to a conclusive answer. For example, what kind (if any!) way Meta allows for people using P92 to export (part of) their data, so it can easily be ported to a fediverse server. Inferences can be made about how (un)likely it is, but that is different from knowing for sure.

The uncertainty creates space for conversations to keep existing, and prevent them from being fully resolved. The conversation is far from over, and seems it will continue in the near future.

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