Fool Me Twice We Don’t Get Fooled Again

There’s a crucial difference between federatable and federated.

Cory Doctorow
6 min readAug 6


A pair of fake screenshots, one from Threads, the other from Bluesky. The top one is from a verified account called “gwb1946” whose avatar is George W Bush’s flightsuit-clad crotch. The post reads, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you.” The second post is from an account whose handle is “Regimechange,” and whose userid is @missionaccomplished.failson. It reads “Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

I’m kickstarting the audiobook for “The Internet Con: How To Seize the Means of Computation,” a Big Tech disassembly manual to disenshittify the web and bring back the old, good internet. It’s a DRM-free book, which means Audible won’t carry it, so this crowdfunder is essential. Back now to get the audio, Verso hardcover and ebook:

“Are you on Bluesky?”

Friends, colleagues and strangers have emailed me to ask whether I’ve set up on the new, federatable social media incubated at Twitter and spun out, which many view as a viable Twitter successor.

“Are you on Threads?”

I get this one too, from people who want to know if I’m going to sign up for the Instagram-derived insta-success that leveraged Facebook’s network effects to achieve an explosive launch (reports of Threads’s subsequent waning are overblown — that kind of “scalloped growth” is normal for new services). Threads, too, is federatable, with a promise to connect it, eventually, to the Fediverse — the collection of services built atop the ActivityPub standard, of which Mastodon is the most famous.

I’m not on either service. I’m honored that people would like me to join their conversational spaces, and I’m grateful to the people who offered me signup codes for Bluesky, but I have no plans to join either, and for a very simple reason.

I don’t trust ’em.

It’s not (just) that Bluesky’s board includes the guy who sold Twitter to Elon Musk. It’s not (just) that Threads is owned by Facebook, a cancer of a company founded to nonconsenually rate the fuckability of Harvard undergrads (incredibly, that was Facebook’s least terrible moment. It actually got worse after that).

It’s that neither of these services are actually federated. Both claim that this is coming. Both claim that they have the technical hooks to federate with other services when the time is ripe. But that time isn’t now.

Look, I’m done. I poured years and endless hours into establishing myself on walled garden services administered with varying…