Some months back, when Meta first launched Threads and announced its plans to federate with Mastodon (and, one supposes, other Fediverse properties), we polled the membership of hcommons.social to gauge their feelings about whether we should be prepared to block, allow connections to the Threads server, or take a wait-and-see position. Based on the results of that poll, and given that there was no imminent threat of that federation actually coming to pass, we waited.
We are now starting to see. Though federation with Threads/Meta isn’t complete, we have taken pre-emptive action to block threads.net. In part this action is inspired by numerous Fediverse activists, including are0h, who are working tirelessly to make the Fediverse safe for its BIPOC users. We do not want to allow any kinds of connections that would make our most at-risk users less safe.
Additionally, we have presented the work of the Commons over the years as being “values-enacted,” and supporting the work of Meta in any way — even as seemingly innocuous a way as allowing their users to follow and send messages to ours — would put the lie to that position. There is direct evidence, as Erin Kissane has written about at length, that Facebook knowingly played a key role in the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. Facebook has also been a key contributor to radicalizing the far right in the United States (see here, here, and here, among many other potential references).
It’s not hyperbole to say that Meta has blood on its hands. And there is all but zero concern for user safety and moderation of hate speech on Facebook and other Meta properties. As a result, we do not feel that we can adequately protect members of our community from potential attacks from anti-LGBTQ+, anti-Black, anti-academic, or other extremists who can freely create accounts and sow hatred on Threads unless we block the server.
Waiting to take action after such an attack takes place requires at-risk individuals in our community to be willing to put themselves on the line in support of our desire to be neutral. And because of that, we do not believe that there is such a thing as neutrality in this situation. Moreover, our own server rules and our existing block list are a demonstration of our commitment to a harassment-free community, not a community that takes action once harassment has occurred.
As a result, we have made the decision to block threads.net. We understand that this may disappoint some of you, and that you may wish to seek another instance that will allow you to communicate more freely with your friends on that network. We completely understand that – we have Threads and Instagram users that we very much wish we could connect with as well. We’d be happy to help you with the process of migrating if you so choose.
But we’d also be happy to help your friends come join us instead. Just let us know.