The Fediverse: the distributed social network

Tags: #fediverse

There’s so many guides out there on Mastodon. So, here’s my take on the Fediverse.

The Fediverse is a distributed social network. The easiest way to understand this is to think of it like email: you might use different email apps like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, or something else. But you can still send emails to each other no matter which one you use. Now imagine you can do the same thing with Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and more. You can be on Twitter, but you can still like and retweet someone’s Instagram picture. You might be on Instagram, but you can reply to the comment someone on Twitter made.

So the “Twitters” of this network are:

  • Mastodon: the most Twitter-like app.
  • Pleroma: a little less popular, but has some additional and differing features.
  • Misskey: the least used, but has a lot of novelty features.

And for the other apps:

All these apps connect to each other: you can follow/interact with any account on any of these apps from any app you choose. So, what else is there to know?

Controlled by the people: Anyone can host their own servers (called “instances”). That means people control their own stuff they post (posts, pictures, videos), not by a social media corporation. What else does that mean?

Bonus for activists: If you own your own instance, your posts can’t be deleted from the entire network by one social media corporation. You can’t be banned from the entire network by one social media corporation. You can’t be easily censored whereas in TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, people often do.

Free from algorithms: You might be tired of a computer controlling the posts or videos that you see. You might be seeing the same, old type of things because of an algorithm. Or maybe you’re missing someone’s posts because they’re being buried by others and the algorithm decided it. On the Fediverse, posts are only ordered chronologically. So you can easily discover new and fresh things, people, and ideas. And people’s posts won’t get buried from sight.

Healthier online life: The Fediverse has options to hide statistics like follower/repost/like/reply counts from you or even from other people. There are also other options to curtail addictive social media use.

Variety with looks: You’re not bound to one look of whatever Fediverse app you choose. There are other looks you can pick, called “clients” or “front-ends.” Sometimes, these looks give you additional features not normally in the app!

What it isn’t: The Fediverse is meant to be a public social platform–not for privacy. That means that instance owners/admins can still see your posts, even if they’re direct messages. If you want to have truly private and secure communications, please direct them to a more secure platform like an encrypted messaging app.

Clients (looks)

Take a look inside

Two profiles dedicated to recommending users to follow:

Manually curated lists:

  • Trunk is a manually managed list of people on the Fediverse who volunteer to be listed under categories of interests.
  • has an extensive list of instances with concise descriptions. If you have trouble figuring out which instance to join the Fediverse through, this is a great place to start.
  • Mastodon instances is an extensive list of Mastodon instances. Some have short descriptions written by the instance’s owner.
  • manually curated list of Mastodon instances.
  • coxy: another manually curated list of Mastodon instances.

Learn more

This page condenses how the Fediverse works. It aims to be a first-look introduction to the Fediverse, friendly to both the non-techy and techy. If you want to learn about it more in-depth, you can check out these resources:

Get your own instance

  • a paid service that hosts your Mastodon instance for you. No techy knowledge needed.
  • a service with a free and paid options that hosts your Pleroma or Misskey instance for you. No techy knowledge needed.
  • CofeSpace: a free service that hosts your Pleroma instance for you. No techy knowledge needed.
  • Run Pleroma on RaspberryPi: how to self-host a Pleroma instance on RaspberryPi. For techy people.

Fediverse tools

Related: Fediverse users I follow.