Monetization on ActivityPub

This morning I came across this thread on mastodon: @jwildeboer, raising the question of how content monetization on the fediverse could look like.

Since Facebook/Meta started talking about adding monetization services at the protocol level, I think it should be worthwhile to have this discussion here as well.
Somewhere on the thread already someone mentioned GNU Taler as a Libre payment system seemingly to be a great fit for that.

Some further links I found in my brief search:

Up until now I mostly thought about these to ways of integrating TALER into AP/Fediverse:

  • Having P2P payments via private messages on the Fediverse, which would not really work since those are (as far as i know) not encrypted and the moderator of your corresponding instance could intercept these payments
  • Just sharing a TALER payto link via your bio, allowing for general contributions to single creators etc.

Yet, one could think about a deeper integration, bringing TALER’s privacy preserving mircopayments to the fediverse. :blue_heart:



@how I only saw the thread 'cause you boosted it, do you have any thoughts on this?

I was about to tell you about it!

Although some people in the Fediverse, especially tied to the W3C, are not afraid of Fakebooz coming into our little community space, and will happily embrace it, many others understand the stakes and already felt the blow. Threats has already 150 million users on the one-way-Fediverse (you may read them but not reply, and viewing public replies to their public posts may require authentication to Mata services). This means that “as a test case”, Mata is already able to perform colonization of settlement on the Fediverse, sending more than 10 times more users than the existing – without mentioning the loss of users on Mastodon following the Threats test.

I’ve been suggesting Taler for a while to the ActivityPub community, and reminded them the open calls to tackle Taler integration at protocol level. That would not stop Mata, but that would at least guarantee that the rest of us have an ethical way of payment on the Fediverse.

Since TALER ICH and the SocialHub are federated, I would suggest using Go TALER! to help broaden the discussion and eventually have a solid (no pun intended) proposal from the Fediverse to TALER to fix the payment and micro-payment issue on the Fediverse. I have in mind the chinese model, where WeChat Pay has been integrated with chat applications for years. This is a criticial moment for the Fediverse, not to be missed, or we’ll leave in Disneyland forever – no, it’s not a great perspective kids, you can’t eat rainbow sugar all your life without getting really sick.


The Monetization on ActivityPub topic is now federated! On the Fediverse, follow:

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not quite yet, but Evan got a small grant to prototype something over the summer and is already sharing prelim design ideas and requirements, and i’m confident a few major implementations could get something interoperable running by end of year.

speaking of community efforts, there is already a pretty interesting ontological/extension idea that’s been proposed from a fairly values-aligned group in the US (whose work actually predates the crypto boom) here that might be of interest-- I bumped into one of the authors on a community call and she said the work is kind of stalled for lack of a prototyping partner, if someone wanted to work out a way for Taler to be one of multiple possible rails that work with their flows/ontology i’m sure they’d be interested in working together.

Love these ideas!

I think option 2 " Just sharing a TALER payto link via your bio, allowing for general contributions to single creators etc." makes the most sense in the short run.

In the short term, I’d caution against option 1, since private messages were out of scope of the 2018 ActivityPub TR. There are many ways they could be added, and various folks are trying ways, but realistically I don’t think anyone should trust it for high-stakes payments until it is well specified, well tested, and the privacy claims are well audited and survived bug bounties.

One way all this could be done today without spec changes is to add a Link to the taler URI from an ActivityPub Actor’s Profile object:

{"@context": "",
 "type": "Person",
 "id": "https://social.example/alyssa/",
 "attachment": [
    {"type": ["Link"],
      "rel": "payment",
      "href": "taler://pay/\
 "name": "Alyssa P. Hacker",
 "preferredUsername": "alyssa",
 "summary": "Lisp enthusiast hailing from MIT",
 "inbox": "https://social.example/alyssa/inbox/",
 "outbox": "https://social.example/alyssa/outbox/",
 "followers": "https://social.example/alyssa/followers/",
 "following": "https://social.example/alyssa/following/",
 "liked": "https://social.example/alyssa/liked/"}

Now any agent that resolves the Actor URI to the Actor Profile Object, as long as they are aware of the IANA-registered taler: URI scheme, can easily determine how the Actor prefers to be paid, all by Follow Your Nose