What people usually tell you about the Fediverse

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What most people will tell you about the Fediverse is that it's free software, federated and free from ads, spying and so on.
But what does that mean?

Federation

The email allegory

Everybody knows you don't need to use the same email provider to communicate via email.
You can send a mail from riseup.net to gmail.com and the other way around.
That's about the same way that "federation" in the Fediverse works.
Federation just means that different or decentralized servers or instances can communicate with each other via a protocol.
Just like email uses POP, IMAP or SMTP protocols for federation, the Fediverse mostly uses ActivityPub.

Free Software

Main article: What is free software?

All of the software used in the Fediverse is Free Software.

Free Software is software that follows the 4 freedoms defined by the Free Software Foundation:

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

If you yourself can't read or write code, so you can't study, change and distribute the program, you still have some advantages. You can trust the program, because other people studied the code to make sure it does (only) what it's supposed to do. You can request a feature from the developers and if the community deems that feature a good idea it will often be adopted.

No spying, no ads, no algorithm, no shadow-banning, ...

The Fediverse runs on donations, not on selling your data, so there are no targeted ads. In fact, there are no ads at all.
What you see on the Fediverse only depends on who you follow, not on algorithms or shadow-banning.