Mastodon and Peertube: EU closing up shop in Fediverse because nobody wants to run servers

EU institutions are active on Mastodon and Peertube servers, thanks to a pilot project run by the European Data Protection Supervisor. But they’ll be shut down in May – because nobody wants to be responsible for them.

Gravestone showing European stars and a mastodon.
The EU wants to close its Mastodon server. (symbolic image) – Public Domain generated with Midjourney

Pretty much exactly two years ago, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) started two services in the Fediverse as pilot projects: EU Voice, based on Mastodon, and EU Video, based on Peertube, were supposed to be “alternative, privacy-friendly and user-focused” social media platforms for the EU institutions, bodies and offices.

40 institutions opened an account on EU Voice, including the EDPS, the European Court of Justice and the EU Commission. Only six used the EU Video service. According to the EDPS, this still made the EU the biggest group of public bodies on the Fediverse – worldwide.

But these services are now hanging by a thread: In a press release, EDPS Wojciech Wiewiórowski declares his lack of success in finding “a new home for EU Voice and EU Video” – and in finding somebody who could “maintain the servers and sustain operations at the high standards that EUIs and our users deserve.” This means that both services will be shut down on May 18. The EDPS wants to help existing accounts in migrating to other services.

Legacy for a digital future

This all reads slightly absurdly in the press release, because the EDPS is celebrating the pilot project as a big success. It has “proved” that public bodies can offer platforms “that respect individuals’ fundamental rights”, according to the release. With this, they can offer “alternatives to common platforms owned by a handful of big players”. The EDPS seems proud of the success of a project with a legacy of showing that “collaborative efforts, and solutions to shape a safer digital future for the EU are possible.”

Or not – because none of the 40 institutions, bodies and offices in the whole Union wanted to take over, maintain and moderate two servers. Even though the effort and resources to do so shouldn’t be too high of a hurdle for an annual budget of more than 180 billion Euros.

Update, 8 pm:
The EU Commission has surprisingly announced on Mastodon:

Our commitment to the fediverse is here to stay.
We are working on a solution to ensure our continued presence on your feeds, taking full advantage of Mastodon’s identity portability.
And we are even growing the team behind our Mastodon presence, increasing efforts to engage with your comments on our posts.
We are fully committed to being a real part of the conversation in the fediverse.

Read the German version of this article


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