Parliament and Government should be in the fediverse

Joe Biden is now in the fediverse.

He’s on Threads – – and the White House has decided to turn on federation so that I can follow him using my Mastodon account or any other service that supports the ActivityPub protocol.1 And I can do that even though I’m not on Threads.2

I don’t really want to follow Joe Biden on Mastodon. But do you know who I would like to follow? UK politicians and institutions.

The Prime Minister. The Leader of the Opposition. My MP. Ministers responsible for things I’m personally interested in. Government departments announcing things that affect me.

I think politicians and major public institutions should be using federated platform technologies to communicate with us all.

Why federation?

As Stewart Pearson said to the Goolding Inquiry:

[…] the design structure for a parliamentary democracy should be that of the Pompidou Centre. Morally and structurally explicit and open. A porous membrane. […]

Or, maybe just a little bit plainer:

People should know, er, what politicians are doing.


It’s a lot easier to know what decision-makers are decision-making about if you aren’t forced to sign up to a centralised platform to communicate with them. It’s better if you aren’t forced to give up excessive amounts of personal data to do it. And that’s if the centralised platform will even show you the political content or news content you want to see.

And whilst lots of things that get put onto social media are inane, ephemeral, or both; public service information, on the whole, is not. The National Archives already treats social media from the UK Government as worthy of archiving. That archiving would be a lot easier if it weren’t locked behind increasingly costly APIs with capricious access policies. And that’s if an API even exists in the first place.

For the interests of transparency, accountability and historical record-keeping, politics and public services should be happening in the fediverse.

GOV.UK. But social media.

But more than that, I don’t think politicians and major public institutions should be reliant on big centralised platforms to be in the fediverse either.

I get why they might go to those platforms. The network effects are strong. If the social web is built around silos like Facebook and the artist formerly known as Twitter, you have to sign up for a centralised platform to be heard. You go to your audience where your audience is.

But in a federated social web, you don’t have to be on the platform to be in the conversation. Like I said up top: I can follow Joe Biden from my Mastodon account. He isn’t on Mastodon, and I won’t go to Threads. But I can still see what he has to say, and I can interact with him.

I think Joe Biden shouldn’t be; he should be

And you know what else that helps with? Finding him and trusting that it is actually him. No one else gets to be unless they are part of the White House. No spoof accounts. No algorithmic intermediaries. No issues with moderation.

Now imagine that in the UK.

Imagine if Parliament or HM Government had its own federated infrastructure. You could follow,, or

Imagine a GOV.UK for social media from the UK Parliament or HM Government. A completely authoritative source of official information that you could access regardless of the social media platform you were on. One that was easy to find. One that you could unthinkingly trust.

I think that would be brilliant. Who’s with me?

  1. I do also have a BlueSky account but the BlueSky ecosystem is based on something called the AT Protocol↩︎

  2. In fact, over the past few years I’ve been slowly de-Zucking myself. I’m not on Facebook, or Instagram, and I won’t be joining Threads. ↩︎