How Flipboard is Embracing Mastodon and Leaving Twitter Behind
Flipboard, a popular news reading app, has announced its decision to integrate Mastodon, a decentralized social networking protocol that has gained popularity in the last year, into its main app. The move is aimed at encouraging broader adoption of the Fediverse, a network of interconnected decentralized social media platforms, among Flipboard’s user base.
According to Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, the integration of Mastodon and the development of Flipboard’s own Mastodon instance are the first steps in a broader plan to embrace decentralized social networking protocols. The plan is a response to the increasing hostility towards outside developers by services like Twitter and Facebook, which rely on proprietary social graphs.
The adoption of ActivityPub, the open source protocol that powers Mastodon and the rest of the decentralized services in the Fediverse, will enable Flipboard and Mastodon users to follow each other and interact with each other’s content. The move is a significant departure for Flipboard, given its once deep ties to Twitter. McCue served on Twitter’s board of directors between 2010 and 2012, and Twitter once reportedly considered buying the app.
However, McCue has expressed disappointment with Twitter’s current state under Elon Musk’s leadership, calling it “total chaos.” With Twitter set to end its free API, it remains unclear how long Flipboard will be able to maintain any kind of functionality with the service.
In contrast, McCue sees Mastodon and the Fediverse as an antidote to the Musk-induced chaos. He believes that decentralized social networking protocols like ActivityPub will allow communities of people to interact with each other without being dictated to by one person or platform.
While there are still questions about whether Mastodon will ever be more than a niche Twitter alternative, McCue predicts that other mainstream services may start looking at Mastodon more strategically as well. He believes that companies like Flipboard will start to integrate ActivityPub and advocate to publishers and content creators to build a presence in the Fediverse, leading to a “Netscape moment” for the decentralized social networking protocols.