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Hannah Aubry for Fastly

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Welcome Mastodon to Fast Forward!

We’re thrilled to announce that Mastodon is now a member of Fast Forward.

We believe things are better when they’re a little closer to you — when you have a say over your data, your safety, and your community. If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, we’re stronger when we stay connected.

Welcome Mastodon to Fast Forward

We are super excited about this project because of what Mastodon represents — not only the power of community but also the power to build communities, to own and control your data, to leave a digital space, and take your data and your friends with you when and wherever you go. Helping a project like Mastodon is why we have a program like Fast Forward in the first place — it truly delivers on the promise of the open web that drew so many people to ActivityPub and the fediverse.

In some ways, the motivation that led Eugen Rochko to create Mastodon is similar to what led our founders to create Fastly. They found something about the internet that was broken, so they set out to build something that would fix it. And the community that Eugen has helped lead around Mastodon has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

At Fastly, we can help the open web thrive by providing scale and security. And we can help an open-source project whose biggest challenge is being available for, and welcoming to, everyone around the world who wants to take advantage of this new platform.

How we’re helping

Mastodon was created long before the most recent news cycle, but it has certainly seen people joining at a much faster rate over the last few months. That means more people hitting the domain, more activity throughout each 24-hr cycle, and more load on the and instances.

The increased attention has been both positive and negative. On January 31st, Mastodon and its flagship instances were hit by a significant DDoS attack.

a toot: Eugen Rochko<br>, ", and were hit by a DDoS yesterday, thankfully was already behind Fastly so it didn't have any impact on it. We've now moved behind Fastly and will do the same with soon."

To understand the magnitude of such an attack, we generated a graph representing the relative trend between average traffic to and the requests per second (RPS) during the attack.

A graph representing the traffic differential between normal operations and during the DDoS attack.

What’s more, application-layer (Layer 7 of the OSI Model) DDoS attacks like those directed at Mastodon are typically very short-lived, meaning it was difficult for the Mastodon team to react in the moment. Right now, the team administering the and instances, as well as the rest of Mastodon’s infrastructure, such as, consists of Eugen, Renaud Chaput, and the excellent community of contributors, sponsors, and instance admins that support the nonprofit. (By the way — Mastodon is hiring a full-time DevOps Engineer.)

Discord conversation between Mastodon maintainers. Elfurbe: anything you could map into a fail2ban filter? Might be good enough if it's not a sophisticated attack. Gargron: yeah, I am adding some IPs to a firewall filter manually. seems possible.

And while that might work for one-off attacks or uninspired hackers, anyone persistent enough can easily switch tactics to get by those quick fixes.

discord conversation between maintainers. Gargron: oh no, it's started again. If it's just the one IP, I'd just add a firewall rule to drop that IP. Gargron: this time, hitting  raw `get /explore` endraw  11 times from the same IP, but it's many different IPs. No it's not just one IP sadly.

Fastly absorbed the attack on — we’ve got automation to respond to such attacks. Given our place as a frontline operator sitting between systems and the people that use them, we’re constantly monitoring the threat landscape, evolving our defense and mitigation stance, and, what’s more, empathizing with victims. While DDoS attacks continue to grow larger and faster, the industry’s ability to respond is growing even faster still.

We’re glad to be able to protect Mastodon and to be an option for anyone else who wants to scale and protect their community with integrity (see our trust and community policies).

We’re also mindful of not wanting to centralize the infrastructure of a social network that is decentralized by design. Mastodon can easily migrate to another CDN or a multi-CDN approach. Put simply, we’re handling the network — delivering and securing content — so Mastodon can handle the stuff that matters most to them — encouraging healthy communities with effective community management and brilliantly creative participants. Because we believe…

The future is federated

Mastodon is a growing project and community, and they need help. We already mentioned that they’re hiring a DevOps Engineer. They’re hiring a Software Engineer and a Product Designer too. You can also join the community discussion, suggest a feature for their roadmap, and get set up to contribute to the codebase.

And Mastodon is one platform within a world — a fediverse? — of projects, platforms, clients, and apps built to intercommunicate. It’s a whole! We can’t wait to see all the new and innovative stuff that’s yet to come.

Speaking of, are you building for the fediverse? We want to support you! We’re already supporting some incredible projects building for the new web (I can’t wait to tell you about them in the coming weeks!), and we want to support you too. If you need help scaling your project, apply to Fast Forward here. Or if you want us to signal boost your project, need advice, or want to show us what you’re building, reach out to us on fedi!

We can’t wait to see what you’re working on! Now let’s go build the good internet — together. ⏩

Top comments (3)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Great stuff

haubles profile image
Hannah Aubry

Thank you, Ben!! 🥰

jennschiffer profile image
jenn schiffer