Billions May Enter Fediverse Due To European Union’s Digital Markets Act‽

The Fediverse may become flooded with billions of new users over the next six months after the @EU_Commission declared that six major tech companies have less than a year to comply or face fines based on global revenues.

Image: from Pixabay, discovered on Fediverse Party.

The European Commission has today designated, for the first time, six gatekeepersAlphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, Microsoft – under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). In total, 22 core platform services provided by gatekeepers have been designated. The six gatekeepers will now have six months to ensure full compliance with the DMA obligations for each of their designated core platform services. […]

The Commission will monitor the effective implementation of and compliance with these obligations. In case a gatekeeper does not comply with the obligations laid down by the DMA, the Commission can impose fines up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide turnover, which can go up to 20% in case of repeated infringement. In case of systematic infringements, the Commission is also empowered to adopt additional remedies such as obliging a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it or banning the gatekeeper from acquisitions of additional services related to the systemic non-compliance.

Via the European Commission

The European Commission provided a list of do’s & don’ts regarding what they consider acceptable from the companies targeted.

Acceptable Behavior

  • allow third parties to inter-operate with the gatekeeper’s own services in certain specific situations
  • allow their business users to access the data that they generate in their use of the gatekeeper’s platform
  • provide companies advertising on their platform with the tools and information necessary for advertisers and publishers to carry out their own independent verification of their advertisements hosted by the gatekeeper
  • allow their business users to promote their offer and conclude contracts with their customers outside the gatekeeper’s platform

Unacceptable Behavior

  • treat services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself more favourably in ranking than similar services or products offered by third parties on the gatekeeper’s platform
  • prevent consumers from linking up to businesses outside their platforms
  • prevent users from un-installing any pre-installed software or app if they wish so
  • track end users outside of the gatekeepers’ core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted

So What Does This Mean For The Fediverse‽

While the European Commission is focusing on enforcing new rules across various digital industries (messaging platforms, app stores, browsers, advertising, operating systems, etcetera), the fact that they listed five major social networks is a big deal.

The easiest way for social networks like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & YouTube to comply with the DMA regulations is to embrace decentralization & data portability.

Although social networks will be free to choose how they will embrace decentralization, it would not be surprising to see social networks adopt ActivityPub (as the latter is already embraced by Meta & friends).

Did You Say Billions‽

The major social networks are actively used by billions of people & according to Statista, each mentioned social network (excluding LinkedIn) has:

  • Facebook: 2,958,000,000 users
  • Youtube: 2,514,000,000 users
  • Instagram: 2,000,000,000 users
  • TikTok: 1,051,000,000 users

If just these four social networks decided to join the Fediverse, it could drown out the current major ActivityPub players (Minds, Mastodon, Misskey & Lemmy), as well as thwart Tumblr’s glorious entrance.

While more members in the Fediverse is something to celebrate, the massive influx of new users will probably cause an enormous increase in server costs for Fediverse admins, which will pose a problem for many Fediverse instances (who will need to look at funding alternatives to remain online).

Update: @ilumium provides more clarification regarding the Digital Markets Act & strongly believes these rules will not force social networks to “interoperate” with smaller rivals.

No, unfortunately the does not force gatekeeper social networks to interoperate even if smaller ones want it.

Despite groups like @edri fighting for this, there was much political & resistance, and now Article 7 DMA on mandatory only applies to messaging services, not social networks.

So, @element and @threemaapp could ask Whatsapp and to interoperate, but the won’t be affected.

Jan Penfrat on Mastodon

Penfrat links to the full documentation of the policy over here, which is worth reading (in spite of the length).

Note: @rysiek also mentioned this as well (DMA applies to chat apps & not social networks).

Although giants like Facebook, YouTube, etcetera, may not join the Fediverse anytime soon, Instagram might be a possibility as Threads direct messages will be powered by Instagram.