Tumblr’s ‘Fediverse’ Integration Still In Progress, Says Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg


Despite facing delays, the plan to connect Tumblr’s blogging platform with the decentralized social media world, known as the “Fediverse,” is still in the works, according to Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg. In an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on his Tumblr blog, Mullenweg confirmed that the company has assigned someone to work on the integration and that the development will continue in the coming year.

Key Takeaway

Tumblr’s plan to integrate with the Fediverse, also known as decentralized social media, is still underway. Automattic has assigned resources to work on the integration, which will continue in the coming year. While user demand for federated social media has been limited so far, Tumblr’s potential integration with Mastodon and other ActivityPub-powered platforms may open up new possibilities. In addition to the Fediverse integration, Tumblr is also considering migrating its massive blog base to the WordPress backend.

The Background

Over a year ago, Mullenweg expressed on Twitter that Tumblr would soon support ActivityPub, the protocol behind decentralized social apps like Mastodon. This announcement sparked anticipation among enthusiasts of the Fediverse. However, as time passed, it became unclear if Tumblr was still moving forward with the integration.

Adding to the uncertainty, Tumblr recently underwent a reorganization that resulted in staff cuts and the reassignment of many employees to other projects within Automattic, the parent company of Tumblr. This reorg aimed to alleviate financial pressures on Tumblr, which had been experiencing ongoing financial losses. However, it also raised concerns among Fediverse advocates that Tumblr may have abandoned its plans to join the decentralized social media ecosystem.

Furthermore, a Tumblr employee hinted in a post that the Fediverse project had been shifted to Tumblr Labs, the testing grounds for new features.

The Status of the Integration

To clarify the situation, Matt Mullenweg addressed the status of Tumblr’s Fediverse ambitions during his AMA. He confirmed that Automattic has dedicated resources to the project despite the reorganization, with the integration work set to continue next year. Mullenweg acknowledged, however, that there has not been significant user demand for federated social media thus far.

He explained that Automattic has been experimenting with the ActivityPub and Friends plugins for WordPress, both of which have fewer than ten thousand users. This exploration allowed them to gain insights into the community, protocols, and user demand. While Mullenweg remains a strong advocate for open standards and user freedom, he also mentioned that Automattic is evaluating other protocols in addition to ActivityPub, such as Bluesky’s AT Protocol and nostr.

The Future Outlook

Although the current focus is on the Fediverse integration, Tumblr’s potential migration of its 500 million blogs to the WordPress backend is also on Matt Mullenweg’s radar for the new year. While he expressed the intention to tackle this project, a specific timeline has not been established.

Looking ahead, the integration with the Fediverse could potentially give Tumblr a boost, especially with the recent pledge of integration from Instagram Threads. The growing momentum of ActivityPub, along with the support of various startups and established companies, may contribute to determining whether integrating Tumblr blogs with Mastodon makes technological and strategic sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *