From Join the Fediverse
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Fediverse logo

What is the Fediverse?

Main article: What is the Fediverse?

The Fediverse (from "federation" and "universe") is an ensemble of federated (i.e. interconnected) servers that are used for web publishing (i.e. social networking, microblogging, blogging, or websites) and file hosting, but which, while independently hosted, can communicate with each other. On different servers (instances), users can create so-called identities. These identities are able to communicate over the boundaries of the instances because the software running on the servers supports one or more communication protocols which follow an open standard. As an identity on the Fediverse, users are able to post text and other media, or to follow posts by other identities. In some cases, users can even show or share data (video, audio, text, and other files) publicly or to a selected group of identities and allow other identities to edit other users' data (such as a calendar or an address book).


Main article: History of the Fediverse

In 2008, the social network identi.ca was founded by Evan Prodromou. He published the software GNU social under a free license (GNU Affero General Public License, AGPL). It defined the OStatus protocol. Besides the server, identi.ca, there were only few other instances, run by persons for their own use. This changed in 2011–12 when identi.ca switched to another software called pump.io. Several new GNU social instances were created. At the same time as GNU social, other projects like Friendica, Hubzilla, Mastodon, and Pleroma integrated the OStatus protocol, thus extending the Fediverse (though Mastodon and Pleroma have since dropped OStatus. In the meantime, other communication protocols evolved which were integrated to different degrees into the platforms.

In January 2018, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3)C presented the ActivityPub protocol, aiming to improve the interoperability between the platforms. This protocol was supported by thirteen platforms, and was the dominant protocol used in the Fediverse.

Communication protocols used in the Fediverse

Excerpt of common protocols and platforms in Fediverse (2021)

These communication protocols, which implement open standards, are used in the Fediverse:

Fediverse software platforms

The software spanning the Fediverse are free software. Some of them vaguely resemble Twitter in style (for example, Mastodon, Misskey, GNU social, and Pleroma, which are similar in their microblogging function), while others include more communication and transaction options that are instead comparable to Google+ or Facebook (such as is the case with Friendica and Hubzilla).

The following software platforms span the Fediverse by using the listed communication protocols:

Platform Name Type ActivityPub diaspora* OStatus Zot
Aardwolf Social network ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Anfora Image hosting In progress ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
BookWyrm Book cataloguing ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Castopod Podcast hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
diaspora* Social network, Microblogging ✖️ ✔️ ✖️ ✖️
Discourse Forum In progress ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
distbin Pastebin ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Friendica Social network, Microblogging ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✖️
Funkwhale Audio, sound hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
GNU MediaGoblin file, image, audio, video hosting Proposed ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
GNU Social Microblogging Proposed ✖️ ✔️ ✖️
Honk Social network ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Hubzilla Content Management System, Social network,
Microblogging, Wiki, Blogging, Image gallery, File hosting
✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Kibou Social network, Microblogging ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Lemmy Link Aggregator, Social Network ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Littr.me Link Aggregator, Social Network In progress ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
lotide Link Aggregator, Social Network ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Mastodon Microblogging ✔️ ✖️ Dropped ✖️
microblog.pub Microblogging ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Misskey Social network, Microblogging ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Nextcloud Social File hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
OStatus Social network, Microblogging ✔️ ✖️ ✔️ ✖️
OLKi File/dataset hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Owncast Live video streaming In progress ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
PeerPx Image hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
PeerTube Video hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Pixelfed Image hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Pleroma Microblogging ✔️ ✖️ Dropped ✖️
Plume Blogging ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Prismo Link-sharing ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Pubcast Podcast/Netcasting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
pump.io Microblogging Proposed ✖️ Dropped ✖️
Read.as News aggregator/Feed reader ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Socialhome Website, Social network, Microblogging ✔️ ✔️ ✖️ Proposed
WriteFreely Blogging ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Streams Social network, Macroblogging, Image gallery, File hosting ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✔️

User statistics

A number of developers publish live statistics about the Fediverse on monitoring sites like the-federation.info. The statistics on these sites are an indication of usage levels, not a complete record, as they can only aggregate data from instances that use the NodeInfo protocol to publish usage statistics. There is no guarantee that all instances are known to these sites, and some instances may disable NodeInfo, or use software that hasn't implemented it. Some of these sites include data from any federated software that publishes it using NodeInfo, not just Fediverse software.