With the launch of BlueSky and Meta’s version of Twitter, Threads, I want to try and explain the Fediverse to you because I know a lot of people don’t know that it exists, don’t know what it is, don’t know how it works, don’t know any of that stuff.
I will preface this by saying if you are a techie person who is like uber dooba into the Fediverse this is not the episode for you, I’m going to boil it down to don’t have a clue terms! This is not going to be the complete guide to the Fediverse, this is literally entry level.
What is the Fediverse?
The Fediverse basically is social media but nobody owns it, well no one person owns it. Whereas at the moment we have we have Meta (Facebook, Instagram), Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, etc, they’re all owned by companies, and if you are on Instagram you cannot see tweets because you can only see tweets on Twitter, and so on. They are all entirely separate they cannot communicate with each other they are totally different platforms, they are owned by businesses for profit.
The Fediverse is basically the exact opposite; you have the big platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Mastodon is probably the best known at the moment in the Fediverse but they are open source, so the code and the ability to build on those platforms and start your own essentially mini social network on each of those platforms is freely available, anyone can do it. Insert caveats and nuance. So you have these big main platforms in the style of posts that are happening, different communities, but they all talk to each other so if you are anywhere on the Fediverse (more nuance, context and caveats) you can see content from everywhere else on the Fediverse. So you can be on, I’m going to use the traditional social media titles so that we’re not confusing people, but essentially you can be on Twitter looking at Instagram posts, you can be on Facebook looking at TikToks, it all it all talks to each other. So you don’t have to be on every single platform, you can pick the one that makes the most sense to you, the one that you enjoy the most and you could just have a one account. You don’t have to, you can have accounts on multiple places, you can use them for different things, you can have accounts on multiple instances.
So an instance, let’s rewind okay, an instance essentially like a mini social media platform network things on the larger platform. So for example Mastodon, that’s usually what I use, I am on the Toot Wales instance on Mastodon, that is basically an instance for people who live in Wales, but there are also instances for disabled people, artists, neurodivergent people, activists, techy people, book fans, etc. Essentially on that instance you can then view just people who are posting in that instance, so for example going back to Toot Wales, I can choose to view just people I follow and the people in that instance, or I can view the whole feed of the whole Fediverse, which moves fast!
You can also, again I am talking about Mastodon here, you can follow hashtags, you can follow people. And you can follow people wherever they are on the Fediverse, they don’t have to be on your platform or on your instance. So it’s very interconnected. It’s also very anti-capitalist, there is an entirely separate culture on again Mastodon, it is very focused on accessibility and inclusion, which is another reason I love it. I think it’s amazing the ability to add alt text is just there and encouraged, people post about it all the time.
So it is a very community driven place as well because by the nature of it you have to have somebody who is prepared to put the money up to run an instance and also the time to actually host it, to moderate it, to make sure it’s updated and working and all of that kind of thing, and the team around them depending on how big the instance is, you have to have the people to moderate it, to take care of it, to make sure everybody’s okay, everything’s working, nobody’s got problems. And so because of that it is very community focused, again another reason why I love it.
Why choose the Fediverse over Twitter, BlueSky and Threads?
So all of this to say, if you are looking to ditch Twitter, which my professional recommendation is that you should be, and you’re thinking, “do I try BlueSky? Do I wait for Meta to launch their Twitter alternative?” No.
My advice try the Fediverse, give it a go because if we want change on social media, which I think if you’re here you do, we we have to vote with our feet (or fingers) and the Fediverse is providing a community driven, ad free, corporation free, space.
If you want social media to look different, if you want social media to be focused on people, on communities, on small businesses, on anti-capitalism, on creativity and kindness, I strongly suggest you check out the Fediverse and give it a whirl.