WordPress.com Owner Automattic Acquires ActivityPub Plugin So Blogs Can Join Fediverse

WordPress.com sites now have an easier way to integrate with Fediverse, including Mastodon. Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Tumblr, and other web publishing tools, is the new owner of the ActivityPub plugin for WordPress and has also hired its developer to work for the company, according to Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg. .

The newly acquired plugin enables WordPress.org and WordPress.com blog owners to reach readers on federated platforms, such as Twitter rival Mastodon and others. Once installed, readers can follow WordPress blogs on their preferred federated platform, view blog posts, and reply with comments. Replies posted on a federated site like Mastodon become blog post comments.

The developer has been working on improving the plugin’s WordPress integration and adding support for threaded comments, among other things, the plugin’s webpage notes.

The ActivityPub plugin currently supports federated platforms, including Mastodon, Pleroma, Friendica, HubZilla, Pixelfed, SocialHome, and Misskey. It has been downloaded more than 35,000 times to date, according to its statistics page.

Image Credits: Automatic

By working internally with Automattic, the developer, Matthias Pfefferle, will have access to more resources and support to make the plugin more functional over time. Mullenweg says the plan now is to test and experiment with the plugin, much like the company previously did with the Gutenberg editor, which is the first step for any major changes to the platform.

Mullenweg has been bullish on the promises of Fediverse: the decentralized web powered by interconnected servers running open source applications, including the recently popular Mastodon, Instagram-like Pixelfed and others. Late last year, for example, the CEO said that Tumblr would add support for ActivityPub, the protocol that powers Mastodon and other decentralized social apps. However, he had not stated any specific plans for WordPress.com.

The news follows a series of moves by other publishers to adopt Fediverse. Earlier this month, Medium announced that it would launch its own Mastodon server and integrate with ActivityPub. Magazine app Flipboard also announced that it was launching its own instance on flipboard.social and integrated with Mastodon so its users could follow Mastodon updates on the Flipboard app.

However, ActivityPub isn’t the only protocol Automattic is testing, Mullenweg says. The company has also been testing Nostr and Bluesky (or the AT protocol), now powering another Twitter competitor backed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.

“I’m still curious about Nostr and other protocols,” Mullenweg told TechCrunch. “It’s all very nascent right now.”

Terms of the plugin acquisition are not disclosed, but this was not a large purchase as the plugin is a small, one-person operation. The developer will start with Automattic in April, we understand.

Mullenweg also notes that his company has not been directly affected by the SVB crisis, but has reached out to various companies and partners with offers of help.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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