Fediverse Unlocked

Embracing the Fediverse with ActivityPub.

I was excited when Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, announced that they had acquired the popular WordPress plugin ActivityPub.

Although I had enabled the ActivityPub plugin in 2019, I hadn’t committed to using it and soon disabled it. Matthias Pfefferle’s later announcement that Automattic had enabled ActovityPub across all of WordPress.com filled me with confidence to re-enable the plug-in and commit to the fediverse.

The ActivityPub plugin for WordPress is a tool that extends the functionality of a WordPress website to make it compatible with the ActivityPub protocol. ActivityPub is a decentralised social networking protocol that allows different social media platforms to communicate and share content in a standardised way.

My WordPress site can interact with other ActivityPub-compatible platforms such as Mastodon. This means I can follow and be followed by users on other ActivityPub-compatible social networks like Mastodon, Pleroma, or Pixelfed. I can share my posts, articles, and updates from my WordPress site directly to subscribers on other platforms that support ActivityPub.

ActivityPub enables interactions such as liking (favouriting), sharing (boosting), and commenting (replies) on my WordPress posts from other ActivityPub users. The plugin allows me to control the visibility of my posts, making it possible to share them publicly or restrict it to specific audiences.

Once a person follows the @khurtwilliams@islandinthenet.com profile, any blog post I publish publicly will land in their Home feed on Mastodon. I receive notifications for interactions with my blog, such as when someone likes, shares, or comments on my posts from those external platforms.

The ActivityPub plugin enhances my WordPress website's connectivity, enabling it to become a part of the larger decentralised social web. It fosters a more open and interconnected online social experience, where users on various platforms can engage with my website seamlessly.

Installed and Configured ActivityPub for WordPress

ActivityPub is an open standard protocol for decentralised social networking. It enables various platforms to communicate and share content, allowing me to follow and interact with users on different platforms.

ActivityPub's decentralisation empowers users like me, offering greater data privacy and control. Developers can implement ActivityPub in their applications, encouraging compatibility and innovation. Notable platforms like Mastodon and PeerTube already use it, providing alternative social media experiences.

Given my background in information security architecture, ActivityPub aligns with my interests in decentralisation and data control, my love for open-source and the IndieWeb ideal of a people-centred alternative to the "corporate web".

ActivityPub represents a step toward a more open, user-centric, and privacy-conscious Internet experience by facilitating federated communication across various social media platforms.

In 2017, I started using several IndieWeb plug-ins for WordPress. The goal was to make my website a more significant part of what was happening while adding capabilities. I syndicated (POSSE) most of my blog posts to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using Webmentions, Semantic Linkbacks, and Post Kinds. I experimented with IFTT and Zapie to PESOS my content posted elsewhere back to my blog.

This arrangement worked well until Facebook shut off the API for personal accounts, and Twitter and Instagram started making the use of their API more challenging. I had read about Mastodon and saw that many Twitter users were leaving the platform and moving to Mastodon. I started learning about ActivityPub and thought, why not add that capability to my website?

I have installed Matthias Pfefferle's ActivyPub for WordPress plug-in. With the ActivityPub plug-in installed, my WordPress blog functions as a federated profile, @islandinthenet.com@islandinthenet.com, and my author profile at @khurtwilliams@islandinthenet.com. Anyone Mastodon user who follows the @khurtwilliams@islandinthenet.com profile will see any blog post I create on my website in their Home feed.

Mastodon Screenshot

The ActivityPub WordPress plug-in lets my WordPress site join the federated social web using the ActivityPub protocol. I publish blog posts and articles on my site, which users can share and interact with on other ActivityPub-compatible platforms by following either my author or sitewide profiles. It will enhance the reach of my posts while promoting decentralisation, giving me more control over my data. This plug-in ensures compatibility with other ActivityPub-enabled services, making it easier for me to connect with a broader online audience while adhering to data ownership and decentralisation principles.

I have also set up a Mastodon photog.social account to share the blog posts from this website. You can follow me at @khurtwilliams@photog.social. I need to determine how much value I will get from ActivityPub as I use Mastodon sparingly. I have no other Fediverse accounts, so this is more about staking my claim in the Fediverse.