I guess it was only a matter of time, after putting on a Pleroma pod, for someone to ask me what I think of the Twitter announcement, to want to build a decentralized protocol, inspired by SMTP, capable of federating social networks together.
I don't think fediverse is a great discovery. The protocol that twitter wants to invent has existed for years, it has evolved from the first Openstatus to the more modern Activity Pub and Activity Stream. There is nothing to invent, so it is surprising that the CEO of Twitter has announced something like this.
The problem isn't that I'm skeptical about it. The problem is that I think it's a deliberate attempt to sabotage the existing one. And it is no coincidence that it comes from Twitter: the social network most damaged by the migration to the "fediverse".
How would this sabotage work? Well, the answer is simple, just observe that the greatest effort in the development of federated pods lies in the standardization of the protocol. The proticles involved in the federation, from WebFinger to RSS to Ostatus to ActivityPub / zot / others, which must all work consistently for a pod to federate with others, are complex enough to implement. Consequently, the only problems you notice in the fediverse is precisely that of protocol standardization and use cases.
Introducing a new protocol would force all developers (largely volunteers) to suspend their business for the specific purpose of being compatible with twitter. This, in my experience, would take at least a year, depending on the programmer's activism. Mastodon would probably adjust immediately, but things like Gnu Social, GangGo and HubZilla would take much longer.
But the problem is that with its 300 million users, Twitter would fall into the Fediverse as Google Chat did with the XMPP / Jabber protocol. When a giant enters the game, it attracts all users: but when the giant decides to exit, after all the minor players have struggled to become compatible with the giant, the protocol itself loses interest: the average user thought that XMPP clients / Jabber were clients for Google Chat, and when Google Chat closed they did not open an account on another pod, they simply switched to Hangouts, also following those who had always used XMPP / Jabber.
Twitter will do exactly like Google with XMPP / Jabber: first it will occupy all the space of the opensource protocol, then "evolve" it into a proprietary standard, and users who want to communicate with ALL friends will switch to the proprietary, and centralized standard. Scene already seen.
The second point is that in a federated system moderation is left to the sysop, to use an old term. It means that if on my pod I intend to block any user from another pod, as a manager I can block his user and blacklist. And it means I'm the one who decides what's tolerated and what's not. If the user does not like my policy, he must go to another pod.
But the fediverse suffers from an embarrassing phenomenon: the mainstream left, unlike the mainstream right, conceives of modernity only as the latest trend. The result (as it has been since BBS times) is that when a new technology of social interaction takes hold, it fills up before fascists, and only when it is fashionable is the mainstream left perceiving it as "modern".
So, now that the fediverse is not yet in fashion, the mainstream left does not perceive it as "modern", and the followers are not present. There is a radical left, but this is due to their love for closed places where nobody contradicts anyone. (I'll talk about this shortly).
The result of this trend is this:
As you can see, the largest pod based on Mastodon, the most popular software, occupies alone 33% of the scene. And it's an Alt Right pod: gab.com. And these are pretty active users as you can see from the status number.
Clearly it is only one million users (few compared to Facebook or Twitter), but the important thing is that almost all users are banned from Twitter and / or Facebook.
Now, the problem is that Twitter, in order to enforce these Twitter rules, would be forced to ban the application in its entirety. But the problem is that even pawoo.net, which has about 600,000 users (mainly in Japan), could collide with the Twitter policy, with images like this:
And in general, the problem is that Twitter would have to spend money to co-sponsor every user outside the platform, to obtain ~ 4 million users in all, which for a social network that has 300 million of them is practically not nothing.
It is absolutely obvious that Twitter does NOT intend to federate with these pods, with any of them. It is therefore more likely that the ultimate goal is to get them closed.
The last point is that according to the founder Twitter has destined FIVE people to develop this protocol. In reality'; with a maximum of five FTEs, in a year, you have defined us the standard, the usecases and the data model.
Large-scale implementation takes much longer. Unless you cut out the data model on the existing Twitter, which would however provide a LOT of information about the core business to the whole world. This is also unlikely.
This announcement therefore knows a lot about Vaporware. Either it was done just to make Twitter talk, and then it will end in a soap bubble, or to see how the stock exchange would react, and to test the reactions of the other "giants", such as Facebook, Youtube and TikTok ( for the uninitiated the fediverse also has software made to spread videos, images and music: PeerTube, PixelFed, FunkyWhale). But even in this case, there have been no enthusiastic reactions.
All you see is Twitter that follows the tendency to ban, the number of banned people that grows to end up almost always in the Fediverse, up to create single pods that reach one million active users.
And coincidentally, in the end Twitter resigns itself to creating a similar model, which if it is also conceived will certainly not be implemented in less than two / three years, the purpose of which can ONLY be to curb the Fediverse by throwing the onerous task of implementing a new standard, which everyone will request immediately.
Then there is a question that arises: Twitter currently claims to live by advertisement. Quite right. But how do you intend to spread advertising on minor pods?
The fediverse pod selectively receives ONLY the posts of subscribed users. It means that if I user X have subscribed to user Y, I will only receive Y's posts. At this point, if Y is on Twitter and Twitter wants me to read the ad, he will have to pretend to be Y when the mail.
Since it is unlikely that some advertisers will agree to give up their brand just to allow advertising to spread, I don't really see how the federated system marries the twitter business model. Of course, as local radios do it is also possible to sell advertising on a pod (say from 100,000 active users upwards) but no pod has a contractual obligation to propagate advertisement that arrives from other PODs.
As a result, Twitter's business model also fits poorly with the Fediverse logic. I really don't see how the announcement should be taken seriously.
So, there are two cases: either Twitter BlueSky is a project to destroy the Fediverse, or it is only vaporware made to make newspapers and blogs speak.
In neither case is it good news.