Adam Mosseri on why ActivityPub

I’ve been blogging short posts this week about Meta’s launch of Threads, but I think it’s worth a slightly longer post with a quote from this interview with the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, on the Hard Fork podcast. Adam has a couple answers to why ActivityPub. The part that is most revealing to me is that he sees the industry going this way already:

I do think that decentralization — but more specifically or more broadly — more open systems are where the industry is getting pulled and is going to go over time. And for us, a new app offers us an opportunity to meaningful participate in that space, in the way that it would be very difficult to port an incredibly large app like Instagram over, and so to lean into where the industry is going.

This didn’t happen by accident. Many developers have been working to bring awareness to the problems of massive, centralize platforms — and bloggers and journalists have been doing the same — so much that users increasingly understand the value of decentralization and content ownership. Not everyone has jumped into Mastodon for various reasons, and not all smaller platforms have taken off, but it still helps get to where we are today that one of the most closed platforms ever (Facebook) is on the verge of rolling out support for an open protocol.

Eugen Rochko also blogged about this as an important milestone:

The fact that large platforms are adopting ActivityPub is not only validation of the movement towards decentralized social media, but a path forward for people locked into these platforms to switch to better providers. Which in turn, puts pressure on such platforms to provide better, less exploitative services. This is a clear victory for our cause, hopefully one of many to come.

What’s next? Imagine if later this year or early next year, Tumblr is able to follow through on their goal to support ActivityPub. Having such large platforms be even halfway interoperability was only a dream a year ago.

Manton Reece @manton