Update July 5th, 2023 at 4:28pm ET: It looks like Meta’s Threads app might arrive earlier than expected. Learn more here.
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Meta’s upcoming Threads app, which is set to take on Twitter. One of the more notable Threads features is support for ‘ActivityPub,’ a social media protocol that would make Threads interoperable with other networks that use the protocol, like Mastodon.
Unfortunately, we now know that Threads won’t support ActivityPub at launch, though the feature may come at a later date.
ActivityPub is a protocol for social media networks that enables interoperability. It’s often compared to email, which allows anyone to communicate with anyone regardless if they use Gmail, Outlook, or another platform. You can learn more about ActivityPub here.
The details come from Instagram head Adam Mosseri in a post on Threads while the platform was briefly accessible through the web on July 5th. Meta has since pulled the links, but TechCrunch captured Mosseri’s posts first. During that time, people were able to see that some Meta higher-ups like Mosseri and Mark Zuckerberg, YouTuber iJustine, brands like Netflix, and more had accounts, some with a few thousand followers already.
“Soon, you’ll be able to follow and interact with people on other fediverse platforms, such as Mastodon. They can also find people on Threads using full usernames, such as @firstname.lastname@example.org,” Mosseri wrote.
“We’re committed to building support for ActivityPub, the protocol behind Mastodon, into this app. We weren’t able to finish it for launch given a number of complications that come along with a decentralized network, but it’s coming.”
TechCrunch also noted that the ‘threads.net’ button that appears next to someone’s profile shows a popup that notes users will be able to interact with other servers on the fediverse — a term used for interoperable, decentralized social networks.
Beyond just enabling interoperability, ActivityPub would allow users to move from platform to platform without losing their audience.
Threads is set to launch on July 6th at 10am ET. Some are looking to the platform as a potential Twitter replacement amid Elon Musk’s ongoing degradation of the platform. However, most alternatives have so far failed to eclipse Twitter, and it remains to be seen if Meta can do with Threads what others can’t.
There are also some early privacy concerns about Threads’ data collection. Per an App Store listing, we learned Threads can collect a lot of data and link it to users, and since Threads is tied into Instagram, that data is shared across the platforms. That data sharing is the reason Threads won’t launch in the EU.