What to know about Threads integration with Mastodon

How integration between the two affects data privacy, moderation, and advertising

E. Rosalie

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As you have likely noticed, Meta has launched a microblogging platform called Threads (30 million and counting have joined). Threads plans to be a part of the decentralized social web by using ActivityPub, the same standard protocol as Mastodon. Here’s what you should know about how that will affect Mastodon.

Threads is a distinct application from Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. It will therefore have a separate user base from these existing platforms, although Instagram users can sign in using their Instagram accounts.

Data Collection and Privacy

The new platform will not be available in the EU — probably because its data collection violates data privacy laws — and it doesn’t at this time support federation (Mastodon).

Regarding data privacy, Mastodon chose not to broadcast private data like e-mail or IP address outside your account’s host server. Mastodon is designed on the assumption that third-party servers cannot be trusted, according to Mastodon Founder Eugen Rochko.

Advertising and cross-platform tracking

Public profiles and posts are the only data accessible to other servers, and they should not be able to track users across the web. Consequently, it sounds like allowing a server to communicate with Threads shouldn’t reveal any more information than it does communicating with any other server.

Advertising on Mastodon can only be inserted by the server you’re logged into, which should also limit Threads’ ability to become an invasive advertising nuisance.

By default, Mastodon doesn’t include any functionality to display ads. Thus, in theory, unless you use Threads, you won’t see any ads from it.

Your home feed is determined by your own server from the people and hashtags you follow, and third-party servers cannot insert ad-like posts.

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E. Rosalie

Disasters & information (public health + nat sec) | Johns Hopkins alum | @COVID19Tracking alum | Mapping medical misinfo 💉 and information disorder