Bookmark: "Is the fediverse about to get Fryed? (Or, “Why every toot is also a potential denial of service attack”)"

Sebastian Greger


Aral Balkan presents an example how the massive amount of communication involved with federation can turn operating a Mastodon instance into a liability.

[…] you see, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And, on the fediverse today, that appears to be “engagement when you’re popular.” In fact, it could be deadly (to Mastodon instances, that is).

Simply thanking people for birthday wishes to require such massive computing resources makes me wonder about sustainability at large. Centralized services probably are easier to scale in an economical way, but I wonder just how much less energy efficient this is?

Either way, this is a really important insight for anybody planning to operate a ActivityPub server – and a reminder to look behind the surface of new technologies. Every technology comes with its own downsides: while fixing one issue, they might create new ones. Nothing replaces critical engagement with the “new and shiny”.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

My occasionally sent email newsletter has all of the above, and there is of course also an RSS feed or my Mastodon/Fediverse profile.