Earlier this year, WordPress.com owner Automattic acquired a plug-in that allowed WordPress blogs to be followed in the fediverse — the decentralized social networks that include the Twitter rival Mastodon and others. As a result, it launched version 1.0.0 of the plug-in, allowing WordPress blogs to be followed on Mastodon and other fediverse apps. At the time, however, WordPress.com blogs were not yet supported. But that changes today.
Automattic announced this morning that the ActivityPub feature is now available across all WordPress.com plans. That means anyone using the hosted version of the open source WordPress software now has the ability to tie into the fediverse, connecting their blog to federated platforms like Mastodon, Pleroma, Friendica and others. By using the plug-in, blog owners have the potential to reach more followers as they’ll be able to share their posts to other platforms and, in turn, receive replies from those platforms that are transformed into blog comments.
Notes Automattic, this can create a “more interactive and dynamic conversation around your content,” the announcement states.
By using the plug-in, the blog itself can also become the user’s profile in the fediverse, instead of having to set up an account directly on a federated app, like Mastodon. But they can still reach that broader audience, which today includes 1.8 million monthly active Mastodon users and a total of 13.3 million users across the fediverse, according to one source for network stats.
To implement the plug-in on Free, Personal and Premium WordPress.com hosted sites, you simply head into the Discussion section with Settings from the blog’s dashboard and enable the toggle titled “Enter the fediverse.” From there, you’ll make note of your default fediverse name, which references the blog’s domain (e.g. “email@example.com”). That profile can then be shared with others so they can follow it on Mastodon or other platforms. Using a custom domain is also possible and will offer users a shorter, more memorable profile.
Business and Commerce sites will need to install the ActivityPub plug-in and then follow the prompts to set up their profile.
The ActivityPub plug-in now owned by Automattic counts 54,756 total lifetime installations, up from 42,831 just last month. With the added support for WordPress.com blogs, even more sites and users may be onboarded into the fediverse. That could expand the fediverse’s numbers, as well, given that Automattic’s own statistics indicate that over 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages each month on WordPress.com websites. The company says there are over 150 million WordPress.com blogs in total.
Automattic isn’t the only company embracing decentralized social networking. Earlier this year, Medium said it would launch its own Mastodon server and integrate with ActivityPub. Magazine app Flipboard also announced it was launching its own instance on flipboard.social and would integrate with Mastodon so its users could follow Mastodon updates in the Flipboard app. Instagram’s new app Threads is also promising to integrate with ActivityPub but has not done so yet.