Flipboard is leaning towards Mastodon – and away from Twitter

Flipboard is the latest service to take on Mastodon as Twitter becomes increasingly chaotic under Elon Musk. The news reading app, whose founder used to be on Twitter’s board of directors, is now on Fediverse.

The company announced that it is integrating Mastodon into its main app, so users can browse their feeds the way they can “flip” through their Twitter timelines. Flipboard also launched its own instance of Mastodon in an effort to encourage wider adoption among its user base.

According to Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, the two updates are the first “very first steps” in a broader plan to embrace the decentralized social networking protocols popularized by Mastodon. last year. Instead of relying on the “proprietary social graphs” of services such as Twitter and Facebook – both of which have become increasingly popular with outside developers – Flipboard could instead focus on ActivityPub, the open source protocol that powers Mastodon and its decentralized service consisting of “Fediverse.”

“As we adopt ActivityPub on Flipboard, we effectively allow anyone on Mastodon to follow a user on Flipboard, and to follow a Flipboard magazine, and vice versa,” McCue said in an interview. . “What ActivityPub is powered by is a common, open social graph.” This means that services like Flipboard and Mastodon may eventually become interoperable with other platforms that have pledged to adopt ActivityPub, such as

The move is particularly notable for Flipboard given its previously deep relationship with Twitter. McCue served on Twitter’s board of directors between 2010 and 2012, and Twitter was once reported to be buying the app. But now, McCue said the current state of Twitter is “sad for a lot of people who are advocates and participants throughout the Twitter ecosystem.”

And, with Twitter setting up its free API, it’s unclear how long Flipboard will be able to maintain any sort of service functionality. “It’s been absolute chaos over there,” McCue said, referring to Twitter since Musk took over the company. “I can’t see the writing on the wall [Flipboard’s] Twitter integration took longer. “

But McCue describes Mastodon and the Fediverse as a kind of antidote to Musk-induced chaos. “We need to get out of the world where one person can dictate how these communities of people interact with each other,” he said.

Of course, there are questions about whether Mastodon is more than a relatively niche alternative to Twitter. The platform has seen explosive growth since last spring when Musk announced his bid to take over Twitter, but the growth has been slow since then. And the decentralized nature of the platform is not necessarily intuitive. McCue acknowledges that Fediverse is still waiting for its “Netscape moment” (he was an executive at the browser company in the late ’90s at the height of the Web 1.0 era), but he predicts that other mainstream services could begin in view of the Mastodon is also more strategic.

“I think you’ll see, in the coming months, companies like us starting to integrate with ActivityPub and stress to publishers and content creators that they need to establish a presence in Fediverse,” he predicted. “If that starts to reach critical mass … then I think you’ll get that opportunity with Netscape.”

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