Why it makes sense for Apple to join the ‘fediverse’

Vivaldi and Mozilla, the world’s two browser makers, will host their own Mastodon Server. Why should others follow suit, including Apple, Google and perhaps your own company?

In its simplest form, it is about controlling the brand message.

Towards trusted social networks

the nature of activitypub protocol What drives Mastodon is that an individual company can set up a server (“instance”) and federate with the rest of the network to provide a social networking service.

But not every company wants to be a social network. It does not want the cost and consequences of content moderation or may not have the resources to pay for server costs.


While most existing instances are public so anyone can register to start using the service, they are not required to be. A company may choose to host only those accounts that belong to its own employees, or even only a subset of them.

For example, a company may decide to host a limited edition that includes consumer-focused messages from its CEO, head of marketing, and key executives. There may also be a need to convince others in the network to support the service. But as long as that instance is federated and supported by other elements of the network, those social messages will be available in every supporting service.

I’ve been able to follow from company to company using any ActivityPub-powered service.

Why Apple should lead by example

Looking at Apple, it seems the company could, at a small cost, create an identity for CEO Tim Cook, marketing vice president Greg Joswak and a handful of other executives allowed to speak publicly. What they say will then be visible in what are called “fediverse,” and Apple customers and colleagues can follow them wherever they are.

It’s just like Twitter, but with added flex.

It also gives some power to Apple. Apple, as the owner of that instance, may choose to defend against parts of the network that host questionable material, such as hate speech. It’s important for Apple and any business that wants to show that they do not and will not support such speech.

This helps protect brand identity, while creating a valuable consumer-focused venue for conversation. Do you really think that brands invest millions of dollars in building their social media presence only to have its value eroded by decisions outside of their control?

Of course, they don’t.

The Challenge of Content Moderation

The advantage of running it as a private, limited network is that a company doesn’t need to invest a lot in content moderation.

I don’t think Apple would want to host a public server precisely because it has always avoided content moderation outside of the App Store – and even those decisions can be said to be controversial.

Of course, companies that are willing to invest in content moderation can do Offer customers the opportunity to engage with them while bearing some of the costs of such a decentralized network – a customer-centric decision that will likely get more bang per buck than the advertising budget on Social-Made.

However larger brands can only donate and contribute to the coding effort and maintain their more limited presence.

What problems does this solve?

Think of it this way: Social media evolved at some point. It was no longer a place for aggrieved customers to call the brand, but instead became a single point of contact that most companies exploited within their overall omnichannel B2B and B2C strategies.

But as social media became more important, branding became as important in social media as it was anywhere else, and patterns/behavior were monitored and manipulated. weapon to topple governments And the rule of law, things change.

Part of this change is increasing use of privacy-destructive technologies such as tracker to monetize habits of user base. We have already seen to what extent it has been misused by some bad actors.

These kinds of technologies should be possible at the very least in the Federation, as long as it remains decentralized.

But anyone in business knows you must go where the people are,

That’s why almost every government agency, business, faculty, or mom-and-pop store today maintains some form of social media presence. These services have become critical to business performance and customer-focused communication, but because they are privately held, users have little say in how these systems work and how they are defined. goes.

What’s been happening on Twitter recently illustrates the dangers of this – companies that have established a presence there find themselves powerless to challenge changes that their brand values ​​don’t support.

conscious opening

These differences will lead to a step towards conscious uncoupling.

Some organizations have started the journey. The European Commission, for example, now conducts its own instance, @EU_Commission@social.network.europa.eu,

It is not alone; There are and will be others who choose to do so.

This campaign for change is being recognized.

Announcing plans to start testing its own publicly accessible example, Mozilla wrote,

“The time is now, as we live through the consequences of 20 years of centralized, corporate-controlled social media, with a small oligarchy of big tech firms tightening their grip on the public square. Private Our choices in hands are limited, toxicity is rewarded, anger is called engagement, public trust erodes, and basic human decency is often an afterthought. The internet we want from the internet we have, Getting to that will be a heavy lift, requiring significant investment in scalable, human-centered solutions for user and community safety, product experience, and sustainability. These are all huge challenges, and we have a lot to learn on the way forward. needed.”

One thing we’ve learned in the journey so far is that there is tremendous value in social media, and there is a growing recognition of how it can be misused.

release value, release agreement

so mozilla and Vivaldi They are ahead of the curve in what they have chosen to do.

Which is why Apple, Google, Microsoft would do well to consider how to enhance the support that inherently private, decentralized networks provide. Certainly it can be through financial support in promoting open-source development of the protocols that drive it.

All the same, doing so through their own self-hosted instances will empower them to differentiate themselves from services that may not offer content that helps them to lead with their own brand values. rather than subjecting them to arbitrary external choice.

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