Politics of Threads joining the Fediverse and surveillance capitalism


Convener: James Theophilos

Note taker: @risottobias@tech.lgbt

Participants who chose to record their names here:

Looking at the advantage and disadvantages and risks and Threads of joining the Fediverse. How do we focus these tensions in a positive way? Marginalized groups are trying to avoid certain groups on corporate social media. What are peoples thoughts on supporting people who have have been harmed or scared of these constituents of people?

Thinking about federation and entity joining- how does one behave while they implement it. If they follow the protocols, and implement it fairly, are we protected by that? Can we derive some safety , are they are completely bad actors, if implementing it- if they are not cutting off important pieces of it or extinguishing it, can they just be ignored as they are bad actors?

Could Threads be a gateway to using Mastodon?

How do we develop an authentic user experience?

Moderating on the content, while balancing with the firehose of content. With platforms like Meta, content like ads and divisive content is inserted in between conversations with friends/family about every 3 posts.

Want to run as much as possible on own equipment, opposed to meta/threads. Easier for someone not already on Meta’s platform to move to federated social since they’re not losing anyone.

Social web has been worked on for a long time and there was a lot of scepticism early on that normal folks would ever use them and share their lives 20 years ago. It feels like we are still talking in a way that we were about the social web in 2004. Social has become the way we do activism and communicate and share information. There has been a big context collapse, so many people from different communities, judging and commenting on things others are doing that we may not want in our own community. There is an opportunity to go back down to smaller communities. People are still figuring out what to do with these phones and platforms; they are imitating influencers to try to make money. Can we define a sense of ownership of their data and how large communities should be? We’re still at the very early moment of defining why decentralization is important and how we can set up safety in smaller communities in a way that we can’t on big centralized networks like facebook. Right now we have this confusion about what the power of being able to comment on anything on the internet means, and whether it’s even important.

Quality vs quantity of relationships online

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

  • want to have respectful discussion
  • discussion about repression of activist organizers, e.g. george floyd, facebook/oppression,
  • radical activist/feminist folks joining the fediverse, alternative infrastructures for activists, these spaces for ourselves
  • break between FOSS hacker nerds and other kinds of organizing, sometimes those movements converge
  • PhD on big tech/surveillence/social media
  • contentions of what it means to be open, counter-hegemonic,
  • the threads joining incident and wrapping around pros/cons of threads joining
  • space where we can talk about it
  • not trying to convince people to your sides
  • talking points or questions
  • reminds Risotto of Arab Spring,
  • what are the positives we can get out of this chaotic moment
  • queer folks / federating with Meta where a lot of marginalized groups are trying to avoid
  • supporting marginalized groups, atmosphere / welcoming back people that scared them away – the “We’re here, we’re queer, fuck Facebook (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days)” section of https://privacy.thenexus.today/should-the-fediverse-welcome-surveillance-capitalism/#were-here-were-queer has some discussion
  • allowing only a subset of thread users from your LGBT group (e.g. knowing an LGBT facebook group to federate)
  • what lead you to the fediverse? what relationship would you like to have with big companies?
    • @risottobias@tech.lgbt: don’t want big data to process my stuff, but sending data to my friends on threads is a limited okay thing
    • (add yours)
    • facebook just serving advertisers and shareholders, users just the product
    • as much freedom of connection as they desire
    • don’t want the bots / LLMs, manipulative disingenuous nonsense / disruption
    • how do we keep the user’s experience front and center
    • skepticism that the social web would ever get started, long time ago, that ordinary people would ever use them
    • still as if we’re skeptical about it, about the politics of threads joining the fediverse,
    • software defines lots of our lived experience at this point, and it’s
    • context collapse from people of many different backgrounds can bring their judgement on things they’d never want in their communities, a spectator sport
    • social web - provides opportunity to decentralize back to smaller communities
    • relevant experience / smaller groups
    • most people are just trying to figure out what to do with phones, looks like commercialization/money, lack of sophistication with products
    • imitating what influencers do,
    • quantity vs quality of relationships
    • responsibility by platforms
    • internet/web not necessarily capitalist in the same way facebook is
    • platforms where creators could make money, there was drives towards usability, engagement,
    • small companies involved in fedi vs large ones
  • developer’s experience?
    • make a new piece of tech and fedi backlashes on it (like the bridge between ATproto, or search engines)
    • power distribution of local instances, a league of instances, not a totalizing power structure
    • reminds me of the ban-list cliques
    • having that power to create that space is distinctive and powerful, even if it’s occasionally abused
    • big fedi vs small fedi conversation
    • deliniation between bluesky and mastodon strategy
    • instance admins putting up a motte, set at top cascade to users, little town
    • bluesky as per-user content tagging,
  • very large instances can have outsized ripples when they make decisions
  • JesseBaer brings up fragmentation and embracing it, similar to POSSE on indieweb
  • if it’s politics, there’s different regions of the world with different cultures, politics, and legal rules
  • threads has to be concerns with legal compliance by being cross-region across those entities
  • cambridge analytica clamped down on some public data sharing, which resurfaces a lot of the crawling