Stepping into the Fediverse
What is the Fediverse?
Wikipedia explains that the term is a shorthand of “federated” and “universe”, and refers to the realm of social media services based on the ActivityPub protocol. Services in the Fediverse tend to be decentralized with multiple instances able to connect together via federation to allow users on each instance to interact with content across multiple of the instances.
There are a variety of services in the Fediverse including open-source and other alternatives to popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
The above image is from axbom.com. Be sure to check out their site!
A quick overview of some of the analogous services:
|Typical Social Platform
|Example of Fediverse Service
|Lemmy or /kbin
How does it work?
Instances of Fediverse services can, but are not required to, interact with each other. This allows instances to set their own rules and policies for people whose accounts live in that instance, but if federated with another instance, those users can still interact with the remote instance’s content. A benefit of this is that people can choose to create their accounts in instances which best match their requirements and whatnot, and communities of like-minded people can choose to disengage from other instances if those instances are poorly moderated, maintained, etc.
For a more in depth look at how federation between instances in the Fediverse works, check out this excellent post on lemmy.world, one of many popular instances of Lemmy.
Pros and Cons
- Decentralized infrastructure
- Not commercialized, no advertising
- Passionate, dedicated communities
- Familiar general functionality
- Variety of web and application clients
- Slightly more friction to get started
- Less mature than some commercial services thus fewer users
- You friends and your grandma probably haven’t heard of it
How Many People Have Joined the Fediverse?
You can find relatively up-to-date statistics for the major services and their many instances on the website for the FediDB project. As of February 2023, there were nearly 10 million users in the Fediverse.
Getting Started with Federated Social Media
I recommend looking at what your objective is. For some people, it will be replacing a particular service such as Twitter or Reddit or whatnot. Look at what services are available in the Fediverse, and pick one as your replacement. As an example, you could join Mastodon instead of using Twitter. Visit the service’s main website. Find an instance, and create an account. Once
Are you a “Reddit refugee” looking for a new link-aggregator following Reddit’s terrible handling of their API pricing changes, community support, and treatment of platform moderators? You’ll specifically want this guide from @[email protected].
Furthermore, ex-Redditors may also find these websites helpful in filling their new feeds with content:
Bringing it All Together
The Fediverse is a portion of the social internet that is comprised of decentralized and open-source services using the ActivityPub protocol to federate between instances of passionate communities interested in socializing and sharing from outside the influence of large corporations and “big data”. The Fediverse has had a veritable explosion over the last couple of years between the mass exodus from Twitter a year or two back, and now the mass exodus from Reddit this year. While all your friends and family may not be in the Fediverse just yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t be the first. Give it a look and see if it’s for you!
What Fediverse Services I Use and Like