July 13, 2024
Flipboard becomes a federated app with support for ActivityPub

Flipboard, a Web 2.0-era social magazine app that is reinventing itself to capitalize on the renewed push toward an open social web, is deepening its ties to the fediverse, the social network of interconnected servers that includes apps like Mastodon, Pixelfed, PeerTube and, in time, Instagram Threads, among others. On Thursday, the company announced it’s expanding its fediverse integrations to 400 more Flipboard creators and introducing fediverse notifications in the Flipboard app itself.

The latter will allow Flipboard users to see their new followers and other activity around the content they share in the fediverse directly in the Flipboard app. This follows last year’s introduction of a Mastodon integration in the app, replacing Twitter, and the introduction of support for ActivityPub, the social networking protocol that powers the open source, decentralized social networks that include Mastodon and others.

In February, Flipboard announced it would begin to add its creators and their social magazines to the fediverse as well, meaning that the curated magazines of links and other social posts that its creators typically share within the Flipboard app could now find a broader audience. By sharing creators’ posts and links with the wider fediverse, Flipboard’s publishing partners gained their own native ActivityPub feeds so they could be discovered by Mastodon users and those on other federated social apps. That initial push toward federation was started with 1,000 Flipboard magazines and today adds 400 more. In total, Flipboard says there are now over 11,000 curated Flipboard magazines available to federated social networking users.

“This is a major step toward fully federating our platform,” noted Flipboard CEO Mike McCue in an announcement. “We’re not just making curated content on Flipboard viewable, but enabling two-way communication so users can see activity and engage with fediverse communities. Personally, it has made my curation even more exciting as I know it’s reaching new people who may share my interests.”

The expanded set of accounts includes public accounts with one or two public magazines that have activity curated in the past 30 days and don’t have any trust and safety violations. They’ve also participated in Flipboard community programs. Accounts will be alerted to their federated status via email.

While Flipboard is working toward federating its users’ accounts by default, people will be able to “unfederate” by toggling off the “Federate” button in their Flipboard settings.

In addition to the newly federated magazines, Flipboard is also bringing a more integrated fediverse experience to its own app. With the version arriving Thursday (ver. 4.3.25), Flipboard users will be able to see their new followers from the fediverse in their Flipboard profile, while their Flipboard notifications will now include fediverse reactions and conversations.

This notification window will now contain three sections: Replies, Activity and News. In Replies, users will be able to see and reply to posts from people both on Flipboard and in the fediverse, as well as any other fediverse @mentions. When they respond, their reply is also sent back to the fediverse, making Flipboard more of a fediverse client app than before. The Activity tab, meanwhile, will show users the likes, follows and boosts (the fediverse’s take on the retweet), along with other Flipboard activity. The News section (previously called Content) will now showcase breaking news and other stories recommended by Flipboard’s editorial team.

The company had already begun curating content for fediverse users across a handful of “news desks” (dedicated fediverse accounts) that directed users to interesting articles and links across topics. There is a broader news desk, plus those dedicated to TechCulture and Science. This existing curation can help fuel the newly rebranded News section in the Flipboard app.

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