Our stance on Threads

datasci.social is not preemptively blocking Threads (for now)

With Meta’s Threads recently starting concrete federation experiments, we have been asked about datasci.social’s stance concerning preemptive suspension (also called “defederation” or “fediblock”).

Here my (Michael’s) short answer:

Has datasci.social suspended or limited the threads.net domain?

Will datasci.social suspend or limit the threads.net domain?
Possibly, if/whenever necessary. We are closely monitoring the situation.

Long answer: Given Meta’s abysmal history with surveillance capitalism and human rights it is reasonable to consider Threads a bad faith actor, meaning that its activities should be assumed to underlie as exploitative as possible motives. In the context of Mastodon this could mean some kind of “Embrace, extend, and extinguish” strategy, indiscriminate data collection, or worse. Therefore we are empathethic with any server admin who preemptively suspends or limits the threads.net domain. From our side however, we do not follow this strategy at the moment, because:

  1. Suspending an entire instance is a huge, irreversible hammer. As per our community pages, “we try to be reasonable: It can be important to block fast, but too indiscriminate blocking can also be harmful”. Since individuals can already block a whole domain by themselves, a server-side suspension should not be implemented rashly.
  2. It is not yet clear what potential benefits there could be from Threads federating. Although there might be little - or the cons might easily outweigh any pros - we need more information to understand this evolving situation before jumping to conclusions.
  3. There seems to be no imminent danger yet. This gives us time to first have a considerate discussion between all admins, moderators, and other members of datasci.social. Should there be an imminent danger at any point, we would of course reevaluate quickly.
  4. Even without any imminent danger, the reasonable point could be made that a federated Threads will undermine the Fediverse slowly or indirectly. Again, whenever there are concrete indications that this is happening or about to happen, we will act accordingly.
  5. See more detailed arguments here: https://www.timothychambers.net/2023/06/23/project-and-the.html

We will stay vigilant and keep monitoring the situation. For now we treat threads.net just as any other instance, and we are ready to react fast if necessary. At the same time, should we ever decide that we want to limit or suspend threads.net, we will aim to give as much advance notice as possible - especially if doing so could disrupt our members. Peace!