Fediverse Account Portability And Blocking

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One of the many great things about the Fediverse (Mastodon, PixelFed, Lemmy, etc) is that your account is portable.

Let's say you're bob@social.boring and, one day, you decide to move your account to foxyfun@furryextreme.yif. Well, with a few clicks of a button, all of your old followers are now following your brand new account. You're still following all your old friends. The accounts you wanted to block and mute are still silenced.

Perfect!

Except...

What happens to the people who blocked and muted you?

I ran an extremely scientific poll on Mastodon:

Yeah... No one knows and there's no real consensus.

Scenario 1 - Blocking

I blocked Bob because he keeps sending me unsolicited duck pics.

From my point of view, I want Bob's new account to be automatically blocked.

Both Bob and his server know that I've blocked him. When he tries to view my profile, he is told to piss off.

Bob's server should maintain a list of accounts which have blocked him. When he initiates an account transfer, his old server should tell my server to update its block list to Bob's new account.

I might be a bit confused seeing an unknown account in my blocklist - but my server could explain what's going on.

This, to me, seems like a sensible solution. If it isn't implemented then it is trivial for malicious users to evade blocks at no cost to themselves; they get to keep their followers.

OK, now we get on to the harder problem.

Scenario 2 - Muting

I muted Bob because he's an arrogant arsehole.

From my point of view, I want Bob's new account to be automatically muted.

The problem is, Bob doesn't know that I've muted him and neither does Bob's server. It is my server which silently drops all the tedious mansplaining posts sent by him.

If my server tells Bob's server that he is muted - that's unwanted information leakage. I don't want Bob to know I'm ignoring him.

There are two possible solutions:

  1. When my server receives a message from foxyfun (whether to me or someone else) it should be told the user's old account name. That way my server can update any mute lists for the old account. That might involve a lot of database thrashing.
  2. Alternatively, when Bob changes his account, his server could broadcast to all federated servers the account change. That's probably a bit inefficient and failure intolerant.

Personally, I think this makes sense. If I don't want to hear from someone then it shouldn't matter if they've changed account. They're still the same prat. But I'll admit this feels like a lot of extra work for the protocol and servers.

Alternatives

Bob could create a brand new account to get past my mutes and blocks. But, in doing so, he loses all his followers.

Bob's change of persona could represent a new start and maybe I should give him a second chance? But life's too short for that.

I could be less thin-skinned and accept that Bob gets to impose himself on me. But that doesn't suit my mental health requirements.

I could take 30 seconds out of my day to block the new account. But computers should be automating this sort of tedious busywork.

Thoughts

If you have any burning thoughts on this - whether you agree or disagree - I'm very interested in hearing them. Please leave a reply here or on Mastodon.


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One thought on “Fediverse Account Portability And Blocking

  1. says:

    Replied:

    I entirely agree with your post, and feel like this is a pretty big problem with most of the Fediverse (with maybe the exception of Mastodon): it was not built with moderation in mind and now that it’s taking off, admins & users are unprepared for many possible types of abuse.

    One of the many great things about the Fediverse (Mastodon, PixelFed, Lemmy, etc) is that your account is portable.

    I know that’s true of Mastodon, I believe it might be true for PixelFed, but it’s definitely not the case for Lemmy (yet).

    Reply

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