What Safety Features Are Missing From Mastodon/Firefish?

Whenever there’s conversation about proposed features like Quote Toots, fediblock lists, full-text search, etc., there are always those that vehemently oppose those things and cite inadequate safety controls as a primary concern regarding basic elements that most fediverse apps are missing. A lot of those safety concerns revolve around DM privacy and preventing dog-piling, “reply guys”, and other malcontents from interjecting themselves into conversations and hijacking them for their own ends. There even large groups of people that migrated from thriving communities on Twitter before the meltdown, tried Mastodon, and then left for places like Bluesky where the community seems to be thriving and lively discussions are happening without the apparent interlopers and thread hijackers that are making things difficult on Mastodon. Solely by way of example, two communities where I have heard these stories has been #blackmastodon and journalists.

This is really interesting to me because it seems that Bluesky has a lot of cryptospam and moderation problems and Threads is, well, Meta. I’m super curious to know what those platforms might have that Mastodon, which has been around for much longer, doesn’t have (or the developers refuse to add, as the case may be) which allows these communities to feel safer and also to thrive on these platforms that are seemingly much less safe (from the outside, at least).

For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to exclude talks of the actual controversial features that generate these safety concerns themselves. There’s no reason to get into a debate on whether QTs are good, bad, or necessary or whether full-text search is dangerous or not. I’m interested in knowing what basic features you feel are lacking that would make Mastodon safer for you and allow you to be comfortable being part of the fediverse.

In other words, what I would like to know is what features would AP-based apps (primarily Mastodon) need to have “out of the box” in order for you to feel like you could not only build a community here but also recommend it to others in that community as a legitimate, safe alternative to something like Bluesky or Threads and most definitely Twitter or Facebook?

For example, a couple I can think of that I’ve heard people talking about:

  • The ability to limit replies to posts (or turn them off completely)
  • Easy and complete account migration anywhere (I know Firefish has made a lot of progress in this area, but I don’t think it’s as yet “1-click easy”)
  • Better or more complete filtering/muting/blocking

I’m also interested to hear if there are some fediverse apps that have already implemented some of these features. That could be helpful to those experiencing safety issues to know that there are other fedi platforms that can give them what they need to really enjoy being part of the fediverse long-term.

So, talk amongst yaselves! I’m looking forward to hearing what y’all have to say!

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Maybe this is the wrong path to take with this conversation, so tell me if so, but:

What do you mean by ‘safety’ here? Because from context, it appears to be ‘safety from unwanted conversation or attention’, but I’m not sure that it fully captures what you’re looking for.

I don’t know all the features of AP yet, but is it possible for a given individual user to block entire instances? For example, if that asshole at TraceLines@infosec.exchange does something so egregious that TraceLines@nightcity.bar wants to not only block him, but *@infosec.exchange, is that an option? If not, that seems like a good way to bring a level of filtering down to the user that can migrate from instance to instance.

I think you’ve mostly interpreted correctly. I was thinking of “safety” as “the ability to be one’s self without constant harassment, having to deal with people inserting themselves in conversations that don’t concern them, and generally feeling comfortable with sharing one’s experiences.” We talk a lot about being able to “find your people” and “build a community”, but I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter lately that those ideals are very hard to accomplish primarily due to the inability to create safe spaces (or at the very least, mostly safe).

There is (or was) an option for an individual to block entire instances but for the life of me, I can’t find where that setting is. I know I have two entire domains that I’ve blocked on my personal account, but I can’t figure out how to show them and get back to them. It’s either a feature that was implemented on Mastodon main but not glitch-soc, or maybe it’s on an app-by-app basis. I’ll load up the web UI here in a bit and see if I can find it from there. But to answer your question, yes, that option is available (or at least it was at one point).

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Yeah, you can definitely still do it from the Web UI - click the little hamburger dropdown icon next to your profile picture, above the compose box. You can block users and entire domains for yourself if you like.