Meta has rolled out the ability to verify a link to your Threads profile on social media platforms like Mastodon, according to a Threads post from Instagram head Adam Mosseri. To be clear, this isn’t a free way to get a blue checkmark next to your Threads name; you’ll probably need to pay Meta to get one of those. Instead, this new feature helps you prove on other platforms that a Threads profile that you link to is one that you own. But it also represents something bigger: an actual Threads feature from Meta that connects with decentralized social media.
I got this to work in just a few minutes on my Mastodon profile, meaning that a URL to my Threads account now has a green checkmark. I’ll explain how I got this set up a bit later in this story, but for now, here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:
Mosseri announced the update as part of a thread about some other new features announced on Wednesday. “We’ve also rolled out Threads support for rel=me links to help you verify your identity on platforms like Mastodon,” Mosseri said. “You can now add your Threads profile link on supported platforms to verify your identity.”
A post from Threads engineer Jesse Chen, known on the site as 0xjessel, explains that “for folks outside of the Fediverse this might not mean much, but my hope is that folks take this as a sign that we’re embracing open standards seriously.”
I’ll admit that I didn’t know what rel=me links were when I read Mosseri’s post (I only saw Chen’s post later), so I found a Mastodon support page that explained how they work. “If you put an HTTPS link in your profile metadata, Mastodon checks if that link resolves to a web page that links back to your Mastodon profile with a special rel=me attribute,” according to the document. “If so, you get a verification checkmark next to that link, since you are confirmed as the owner.”
If your eyes are glazing over reading all that, never fear: I found it was ultimately pretty straightforward to make my Mastodon account show a verified checkmark for my Threads profile. Here’s how I did it:
- On my Threads profile, I changed my featured link to be my Mastodon profile URL.
- Then, on my Mastodon profile, I changed one of the featured links to be my Threads profile URL.
- After I saved that change, my Mastodon profile showed a green verification checkmark next to my Threads profile URL. Success!
Mosseri has said that Meta plans to eventually integrate Threads with the decentralized ActivityPub protocol, and I’ve been skeptical about Meta following through. But now that the company rolled out this verification feature that works on non-Threads platforms, I’m starting to believe that we’ll actually see ActivityPub support in Threads proper someday.
Update August 10th, 2023, 11:15AM ET: This article has been updated to add 0xjessel’s comment.