*This post was originally published by Mike McCue.
Today we are beginning to open Flipboard to the Fediverse, a rapidly emerging part of the Web which includes social services like Mastodon, Threads, Pixelfed, Firefish and PeerTube all built on a revolutionary open protocol called ActivityPub.
What does this mean for you? In the next few months, everyone using Flipboard will be able to discover and follow a whole new group of writers, vloggers, artists, scientists, explorers, political leaders and millions of others who are posting content and conversing in the Fediverse. If you curate on Flipboard, not only will you have a lot more content to curate from, there will be millions more people to enjoy the Magazines and Storyboards you are curating. If you’re a publisher, creator or brand on Flipboard, you’ll start to see new visitors and engagement as people discover and share your content across the growing Fediverse.
If you’re already using the Fediverse, you’ll be able to discover more articles, videos and podcasts thoughtfully curated by Flipboard’s many publishers and curators around the world. You’ll also be able to follow and converse with them directly from Mastodon, Threads and other ActivityPub apps.
What do you need to do to take advantage of all this? Nothing. Everyone using Flipboard will soon start seeing more content from more interesting people in the same familiar Flipboard experience. And everyone in the Fediverse will start seeing curated content from Flipboard in whatever app or experience they are already using today.
Federation in Three Phases
When and how is this going to happen? The process of opening Flipboard to the Fediverse is called “federation” and it will happen in three distinct phases between now and April:
- Phase 1 (Today): We are federating 25 publishers and creators so that we can test and gather feedback
- Phase 2 (January): We will enable anyone in the Fediverse to follow and engage with any public curator on Flipboard
- Phase 3 (April): We will enable anyone on Flipboard to follow and engage with any public account in the Fediverse
The First 27 to Federate (*updated)
In this first phase we are partnering with 27 publishers and creators to help them federate their Flipboard accounts and gather feedback from people across the Fediverse. This includes a range of publishers covering global news, tech, music, gaming, travel and science as well as a few content creators like Erin Brockovich and Jefferson Graham. We are also federating several non-profits dedicated to advancing non-partisan journalism and combating misinformation. These include The News Literacy Project, The 74 and The Conversation. Finally, we are federating Medium’s account on Flipboard where they regularly feature great stories from their best writers.
Here’s the full list:
As we federate Flipboard we will be guided by the first principles that formed the Fediverse as well as feedback from the many communities there today. Choice, privacy, openness and transparency will be critical to ensure we successfully federate the Flipboard community with the Fediverse. We recognize that we are helping to set a precedent for how other services will federate in the future so we will proceed thoughtfully and collaboratively.
We are taking a number of important steps along these lines:
- We have established flipboard.com as a new instance in the Fediverse where you will find all federated Flipboard accounts. We will also continue to operate our flipboard.social instance as a way for anyone to create a new Mastodon account and use the native Mastodon UI on a fast, safe and reliable server.
- We have signed on to the Mastodon server covenant for both Flipboard instances. This commits us to a standard of moderation, reliabilty and portability that is shared across other high quality instances in the Fediverse.
- We are extending our global moderation capabilities to our presence in the Fediverse. We will also continue to innovate and expand upon our “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” approach to moderation. We acknowledge in advance that we won’t be perfect in dealing with every moderation issue but we commit to working expeditiously to resolve these as they arise.
- Our recommendation algorithms on Flipboard will honor Mastodon privacy settings and will continue to only surface content from domains that we have vetted in advance. We will continue to block content from domains that we have identified as toxic. We will also continue to grow our “Red/Green” domain list and we will share this with other instance owners in the Fediverse as soon as is practically possible.
- We will collaborate with other instance owners to ensure we are efficiently relaying activity from Flipboard without overwhelming smaller instances. We will also help innovate ways for larger instances to shoulder the burden of expensive tasks like image storage and video streaming.
- We think it’s important to respect the spirit of what the follower count and “joined date” means to users on Mastodon today. While the accounts we are federating have tens of thousands or even millions of followers on Flipboard, we think this could be confusing to people in the Fediverse. Accordingly, follower counts will start at zero in the Fediverse and increment as each account accrues new ActivityPub followers. We are also setting the “Joined” date to the day each account is federated instead of when they joined Flipboard. We’ll continue to gather feedback on this as we gear up for phase 2.
- In January we will release a new version of Flipboard that will show follows, favorites and boosts from the Fediverse. It will also enable replies to and from the Fediverse as well as blocking, muting and reporting. We will encourage people to use these moderation tools liberally for the health of the overall Fediverse. We believe in the power of decentralized moderation and will continue to innovate new ways to utilize signals from the community to help stop bad actors and prevent toxic content from spreading.
The Future is Federated
This is the single largest expansion of the Flipboard ecosystem since we launched as a social magazine in 2010. I’m incredibly excited about how federation will benefit everyone on Flipboard and in the Fediverse. More importantly, I hope we can serve as inspiration for other apps and services contemplating the Fediverse. As more services federate the value of the Fediverse will increase exponentially and we will usher in a more vibrant and interoperable era for the people who make great content and everyone who enjoys it.
Note: If you’re interested in learning more about the Fediverse, ActivityPub and the future of the open social Web, check out Dot Social, my new podcast which features in-depth interviews with many of the pioneers and leaders of this exciting new movement.
By Mike McCue, Flipboard CEO