Threads might make the Fediverse happen

Nick Felker
4 min readApr 8, 2024

I joined Mastodon about a year and a half ago and came away unimpressed. The problem was with the user experience. It was hard to join and the user interface wasn’t intuitive. Their focus on decentralization over user experience seemed to push away many people. The service was designed to be anti-viral. It was an anti-social network.

The view from Mastodon
The view from Sharkey. The following count looks incorrect.

I was skeptical about Threads too when I first joined. The signup experience was much better, just using your Instagram account. While they made a bunch of promises about federation, they have finally begun to deliver on that. Although my profile is fleker on Threads, I can also access it from other federated domains like Mastodon and Sharkey.

It’s quite easy for any Threads account to join the Fediverse.

Is it lame to like my own posts?

When Threads posts are liked on another website, they appear in the app as an unlabeled user. I imagine this will change as things become better integrated, including allowing for cross-network replies.

The account page on Plasmatrap

The federation system is designed around a network of networks. Moderation happens at each of these networks. For instance, on the domain Plasmatrap (a Sharkey-based instance), I cannot find my Threads account at all. Each network’s moderators can decide which other networks to affiliate with.

A number of administrators don’t want Threads to be part of the Fediverse, and I imagine Plasmatrap is part of that. I think their perspective is short-sighted. Threads quickly managed to gather a social network orders of magnitude bigger than Mastodon and having an accessible entry into the Fediverse is undoubtedly good.

The Threads development team has more work they’re planning throughout the year but already their Fediverse integrations seem better documented and approachable than anything I’ve seen from other groups. But I’m growing more excited about what a large federated network can do for a healthier online community.

Zuckerberg did an interview on the Decoder podcast a few months ago where he talks a bit about Threads. The creator economy has enabled many people to pursue their hobbies and get rewarded for doing so.

Yet existing social networks haven’t been particularly optimized to let these people pursue these hobbies sustainably. They need to constantly create content to stay on the top of feeds. Algorithmic recommendations are great for discovery, and we’d all be worse off without them. However, there also needs to be a release valve for getting recurring patrons.

I see the Fediverse as getting to a better balance point between these two dichotomies, similar to how platforms like Substack have created better relationships between readers and writers.

Any creator can take advantage of the discovery mechanisms of the Fediverse as a platform to gain an audience without being especially dependent on the recommendations algorithm. They can more easily buy their own domain and setup their own custom outlet rather than being stuck with patrons in any particular app.

This gives them more creative freedom in addition to digital freedom. Accounts can be easily migrated across the Fediverse, so followers won’t drop off unlike a jump from TikTok to Instagram. It ends up more like email, where a creator can move from Substack to Ghost as easily as exporting a list of email addresses.

Threads aims to be both a social network and a Fediverse client. But they’ll be competing on a level-playing field (at the software stack level). With a large team of professional developers, they’ll try to create the best tools possible for creators while knowing that they can no longer rely on network lock-in effects.

I can understand the hesitation of a large company like Meta coming in and overwhelming smaller systems by throwing their weight around. At the same time, the value of the Fediverse improves exponentially the more people use it. If Meta can give 100 million people a significantly better social media experience, that should be seen as a win for everyone.

If people don’t like Threads for any reason in the future, being able to leave and setup your own service will be useful. Maybe one day I’ll do that. I’ll create my own account like to post unrestricted. Then you can follow along. But I won’t need to start from scratch. It can finally be the final social network where I can focus on growing with my followers rather than trying to remake a name for myself.



Nick Felker

Social Media Expert -- Rowan University 2017 -- IoT & Assistant @ Google