In response to Joe Biden and the White House enabling ActivityPub federation via Threads, a number of people asked: “Why didn’t the White House just self-host their own Mastodon server?”

Here’s some very basic musings on what it would take for that to happen. and what some of the hurdles are. Don’t consider it a definitive answer, but a jumping-off point.

  • @Boozilla
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    332 months ago

    Would be entertaining to watch it unfold. I’m sure team 45 would try to horn in if it happened. Might bring a massive influx of users. Mixed feelings. But a good writeup.

    • @halcyoncmdr
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      232 months ago

      Truth Social is already literally a Mastodon instance. They just don’t federate with anything else.

      Trump could open up federation, but that would ruin their safe space, I mean echo chamber.

      • OsaErisXero
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        242 months ago

        They would also be instantly defederated by like 90% of the fediverse

          • Sean TilleyOP
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            82 months ago

            Gab is in kind of the same place, with the same conclusion.

            “Oh no, keeping a walled garden actually increases the value of my echo chamber! Better not open anything up to dissenting views!”

    • Snot Flickerman
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      202 months ago

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_Social#Platform

      Truth Social is modeled heavily after Twitter; users are able to make posts (“Truths”, similar to tweets) and share other users’ posts (“ReTruths”, similar to retweets). The Truth Social platform uses a custom version of the free and open-source social network hosting software Mastodon as its backend, which omits several features, including polls and post visibility options.

      The platform uses the Soapbox frontend instead of Mastodon’s native frontend. TMTG has advertised for developers with skills in using Elixir, the programming language used to build Pleroma.

      On October 21, 2021, the Software Freedom Conservancy group stated they suspected Truth Social had violated Mastodon’s AGPLv3 license by not offering its source code to all users. The Mastodon developers then formally requested that Truth Social comply with the terms of the software license, with Truth Social publishing its source code as a ZIP file on the website on November 12, 2021. On February 22, 2022, the source code download was moved to the website’s legal section. A mirror of the source code is available at GitHub, where it was uploaded by uninvolved individuals.

    • Aatube
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      112 months ago

      The server does not have to be open for registration.

      • @Boozilla
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        32 months ago

        Sure, but I’m thinking they’d make some noise on their own, and/or infiltrate other instances en masse (potentially).

        • Aatube
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          2 months ago

          Ah, I didn’t realize what you meant by Team 45.

    • @[email protected]
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      2 months ago

      Personally I think the biggest hurdle will be moderation and defederation as it pertains to the first amendment. I believe there was already a supreme Court case where blocking a user on Twitter (from an official govt account) was deemed unconstitutional. This precedent might mean a govt instance is not allowed to defederate with any other server unless they defederate with all(?) This is pure speculation on my part, but I can guarantee it would go to the courts.

      • I think it would make sense to allow blocking users and entire instances that are very clearly not American based and thus don’t have the same rights here, but obviously should be open to all Americans since we’d be paying for it, presumably.

  • @jg1i
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    262 months ago

    I was wondering the same thing. It seems more proper to run a separate government Mastodon server. Otherwise, they’re showing preferential treatment to one company.

    Although… they probably can’t handle self hosting? But really? The all mighty US can’t self host a server?

    • @[email protected]
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      122 months ago

      If you don’t think some Lemmy instances are being run from Fort Meade and Quantico, you’re not paranoid enough.

    • Neato
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      122 months ago

      They’d just pay a contractor to stand up a server on azure or AWS. Most of the labor would be moderation which is probably why they won’t do it.

      They couldn’t remove anything without Republicans crying censorship. And because it’s government run, first amendment protections apply. Which means they couldn’t remove a lot of what moderators already do.

      • @[email protected]
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        52 months ago

        remove anything

        Uh, a US Government mastodon server wouldn’t have any way to sign up and comment. I assume it would be all one way announcements.

        Who cares about randos who want to talk to the president? People were posting dead bodies on Biden’s announcements on Threads.

    • Flax
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      102 months ago

      Other governments have done it, even the BBC have as well

  • @andrewth09
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    132 months ago

    5 years ago the courts ruled that Trump could not block Twitter users on first amendment grounds. This same ruling could be used as a foundation to force a future government Fediverse server to federate with any other server and host all their unmoderated comments.

    With Twitter, a user could still break the TOS and get banned. With a Fediverse server… Not so much. It’s as free as sending an email to the US government filled with nothing but 2mb of racial profanities.

    • @GamingChairModel
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      92 months ago

      I don’t think the First Amendment would ever require the government to host private speech. The rule is basically that if you host private speech, you can’t discriminate by viewpoint (and you’re limited in your ability to discriminate by content). Even so, you can always regulate time, place, and manner in a content-neutral way.

      The easiest way to do it is to simply do one of the suggestions of the linked article, and only permit government users and government servers to federate inbound, so that the government hosted servers never have to host anything private, while still fulfilling the general purpose of publishing public government communications, for everyone else to host and republish on their own servers if they so choose.

    • Sean TilleyOP
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      42 months ago

      Yeah, I don’t have a complete answer here. I think that Terms of Service requiring standards of behavior are quite reasonable - people in Congress, for example, are required to conduct themselves to a certain standard or be ejected. Same goes for courtrooms.

      There may be a “minimum threshold” for content or communities that are blocked, on the basis of materials provided (hate speech, harassment campaigns, doxxing, CSAM), but I’ll readily admit that this is conjecture.

  • capital
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    42 months ago

    a number of people asked…

    The same number of people forget just how well the government does tech.