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10 Must-Try Apps in the Fediverse for the Decentralized Social Media Revolution

Unlike traditional social media platforms, which are managed by a single entity, the fediverse empowers users and organisations to actively manage their interactions with their audiences.

The fediverse is a decentralised network of social networking apps that connect using open protocols such as ActivityPub. Unlike traditional social media platforms, which are managed by a single entity, the fediverse empowers users and organisations to actively manage their interactions with their audiences. This system includes comprehensive analytics, allowing for a better knowledge of audience interaction. Media organisations, in particular, might gain by directly publishing and communicating with their audience, without intermediaries such as Meta. With a rapidly rising user base estimated to reach 172 million by the end of the year, connecting with the fediverse provides considerable benefits for content distribution and engagement.

In essence, the fediverse aims to transform the whole web into a social network, with users controlling content and interactions. Media organisations may submit material, receive immediate response, and learn about their audience’s interests. This strategy differs from typical syndication feeds and email newsletters in that it provides more interactive content and higher audience engagement metrics. As platforms like Threads join the fediverse, publishers’ potential reach and effect will increase significantly, making it a smart decision to integrate with this developing network.

Here’s a list of the top ten must-try fediverse applications, with brief descriptions for each:

1. Mastodon

Founder: Eugen Rochko

Headquarters: Germany (widely used in the U.S.)

Function: Twitter-like microblogging platform

Unique Feature: Offers “Content Warnings” allowing users to hide potentially sensitive content behind a click-through barrier, promoting mindful sharing and consumption.

Fediverse Role: Mastodon is a decentralized microblogging platform where users can post “toots” (short messages) with up to 500 characters. It supports various privacy settings, including public, unlisted, and private messages. Mastodon instances are independently run, allowing for diverse community guidelines and moderation practices.

2. PixelFed

Founder: Daniel Supernault

Headquarters: Canada (gaining traction in the U.S.)

Function: Instagram-like photo sharing

Unique Feature: Implements a “Stories” feature similar to Instagram, but with enhanced privacy controls and without algorithmic curation.

Fediverse Role: PixelFed is a decentralized photo-sharing platform that allows users to post photos, stories, and collections. It emphasizes privacy and ethical use, avoiding third-party tracking and algorithms. PixelFed uses the ActivityPub protocol to enable decentralized interactions with other Fediverse platforms.

3. PeerTube

Creator: Chocobozzz (supported by Framasoft)

Headquarters: France (significant U.S. user base)

Function: Decentralized video hosting and sharing

Unique Feature: Utilizes WebTorrent technology for peer-to-peer video streaming, reducing server load and improving playback for popular videos.

Fediverse Role: PeerTube is a decentralized video platform that uses peer-to-peer technology to distribute video content. Each server hosts a torrent tracker, and each web browser viewing a video also shares it, reducing server load. PeerTube supports federation with other instances, allowing for a large, collectively hosted video platform.

4. Lemmy

Developers: LemmyNet (open-source community)

Headquarters: Global (popular in the U.S.)

Function: Reddit-like link aggregation and discussion

Unique Feature: Offers a “Federation Block” feature, allowing instance administrators to block entire instances they deem problematic, enhancing community moderation capabilities.

Fediverse Role: Lemmy is a decentralized link aggregator and discussion platform. It supports community-based discussions and voting, with no advertising or tracking. Lemmy instances communicate using the ActivityPub protocol, allowing users to interact with posts and comments across different instances.

5. Pleroma

Founder: “Lain” (pseudonym)

Headquarters: Global (used in the U.S.)

Function: Lightweight microblogging platform

Unique Feature: Supports “Markdown” formatting in posts, allowing for rich text formatting without the need for a complex editor interface.

Fediverse Role: Pleroma is a highly customizable microblogging platform that supports federation with other Fediverse services like Mastodon and PixelFed. It offers multiple frontends and is known for its lightweight server requirements, making it a popular choice for self-hosting.

6. Friendica

Original Creator: Mike Macgirvin

Headquarters: Global (used in the U.S.)

Function: Facebook-like social networking

Unique Feature: Offers “Connectors” that allow users to cross-post to non-Fediverse platforms like Twitter and Facebook, bridging the gap between centralized and decentralized social media.

Fediverse Role: Friendica is a decentralized social network that integrates with various Fediverse platforms, allowing users to follow friends on other networks like Mastodon and Diaspora. It offers a familiar social network interface and is resource-light, making it attractive for self-hosting.

7. Diaspora

Founders: Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer, and Ilya Zhitomirskiy

Headquarters: New York, USA

Function: Decentralized social network

Unique Feature: Implements “Aspects,” allowing users to organize contacts into groups and share content selectively with specific aspects.

Fediverse Role: Diaspora consists of independently owned nodes (pods) that interoperate to form a network. It emphasizes user privacy and data ownership, allowing users to interact across different pods and other Fediverse platforms.

8. WriteFreely

Founder: Matt Baer

Headquarters: USA

Function: Minimalist blogging platform

Unique Feature: Offers a “Read-only” mode, allowing instance administrators to create curated content platforms without user registrations.

Fediverse Role: WriteFreely allows writers to publish content that can be followed and shared across the Fediverse using the ActivityPub protocol. It provides a distraction-free writing environment and supports federation with platforms like Mastodon and Pleroma.

9. Funkwhale

Creator: Eliot Berriot

Headquarters: Global (community-driven, used in the U.S.)

Function: Music sharing and streaming

Unique Feature: Implements a “Channels” system, allowing users to create and share playlists as radio-like streams, fostering music discovery and sharing.

Fediverse Role: Funkwhale is a decentralized audio platform that lets users share and listen to music. It integrates with other Fediverse platforms like Mastodon, allowing for a social experience around music discovery and sharing.

10. Hubzilla

– Original creator: Mike Macgirvin

– Headquarters: Global (used in the U.S.)

– Function: Decentralized publishing, identity, and communications platform

– Unique Feature: Offers “Nomadic Identity,” allowing users to clone their account across multiple servers, ensuring access even if their primary server goes down.

– Fediverse Role: Hubzilla offers a wide range of features, including blogs, calendars, and cloud storage. It supports federation with other Fediverse platforms like Diaspora and Friendica, and is known for its advanced privacy settings and nomadic identity feature, which allows users to move their accounts between servers without losing data.

Picture of Anshika Mathews
Anshika Mathews
Anshika is an Associate Research Analyst working for the AIM Leaders Council. She holds a keen interest in technology and related policy-making and its impact on society. She can be reached at anshika.mathews@aimresearch.co
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