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"The Fediverse (a portmanteau of "federation" and "universe") is the ensemble of federated servers that are used for web publishing (i.e. social networking, microblogging, macroblogging, or websites) and file hosting.

On different servers (instances), users can create so called identities. These identities are able to communicate over the boundaries of the instances because the softwares running on the servers support one or more Communication protocol|communication protocols which follow the Open Standard.[1] As an identity on the fediverse, you are able to exchange private messages or other data with other identities or to follow posts by other identities. In some cases, you 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 your data (i.e. a calendar or an address book)." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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). Besides the server, identi.ca, there were only few other instances existing, run by persons for their own use. This changed in 2011/2012 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,[2] Mastodon and Pleroma[3] integrated the OStatus protocol, thus extending the fediverse.

In the meantime, other communication protocols have evolved which are integrated to different degrees into the platforms. In January 2016, the W3C presented the ActivityPub protocol, aiming to improve the interoperability between the platforms. As of 2018-08, this protocol is supported by thirteen platforms (see the table below).

Communication Protocols Used in the Fediverse

These communication protocols which follow the Open Standard are used in the fediverse:

Fediverse software platforms

The software spanning the fediverse are all free. Some of them vaguely resemble Twitter in style (for example, Mastodon and GNU Social, 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 DFRN Diaspora
OStatus Zot
Aardwolf Social network Yes No No No No
Anfora Image hosting In progress [7] No No No No
CloutStream Professional Social network Yes No No No No
diaspora* software Social Network, Microblogging Proposed [8] [9] No Yes No No
distbin Pastebin Yes No No No No
(f. Friendika; orig. Mistpark)
Social network, Microblogging Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Funkwhale Audio, sound hosting Yes No No No No
GNU MediaGoblin file, image, audio, video hosting Proposed [10] No No No No
(f. StatusNet; orig. Laconica)
Microblogging Proposed [11] [12] No No Yes No
(f. RedMatrix; orig. Friendica-Red)
CMS, Social Network, Microblogging, Wiki, Blogging, Image gallery, File hosting Yes No Yes Yes [2] Zot
Littr.me Link-sharing Yes No No No No
Mastodon Microblogging Yes [13] No No Yes No
microblog.pub Microblogging Yes No No No No
Misskey Social Network, Microblogging Yes No No No No
Nextcloud File hosting Yes [14] No No No No
Numaverse Microblogging, ETH blockchain Yes No No No No
Osada Social Network, Microblogging Yes No No No Zot/6
PeerPx Image hosting Yes No No No No
PeerTube Video hosting Yes No No No No
PixelFed Image hosting In progress [15] No No No No
Pleroma Microblogging Yes No No Yes [3] No
Plume Blogging Yes No No No No
postActiv Microblogging Proposed [16] No No Yes No
Prismo Link-sharing Yes No No No No
Pubcast (f. Metapods) Netcasting Yes No No No No
pump.io Microblogging Proposed [17] No No Dropped [18] No
Read.as Feed reader Yes [19] No No No No
Socialhome Website, Social Network, Microblogging In progress [20] No Yes No Proposed [21]
Write.as / Write Freely Blogging Yes No No No No
Zap Social Network, Microblogging No No No Noa Yes Zot/6

Actual spreading

The statistic service the-federation.info states for the 6th of December 2018 following data about the fediverse. The statistics do not reflect the whole fediverse. [22]

  • Number of instances (servers): 3,952
  • Number of identities: 2,382,670
  • Number of posts: 201,681,558
  • Number of comments: 4,764,706


  1. Mastodon User Guide 2017-04-09 dead-url
  2. 2.0 2.1 gnusoc · master · hubzilla / addons access-date=2018-07-17
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pleroma access-date=2018-07-17
  4. DFRN2 author=github.com/friendica/ access-date=2018-08-18
  5. Zot/6 author=Mike Macgirvin|access-date=2018-09-14
  6. Zot Protocol author=project.hubzilla.org|access-date=2018-08-18
  7. Implement mastodon API endpoints#23 access-date=2018-12-10
  8. Support ActivityPub #7422 access-date=2018-08-18
  9. Let's talk about ActivityPub access-date=2018-08-18
  10. Move federation code to ActivityPub spec #5503 access-date=2018-08-18
  11. Support ActivityPub #256 access-date=2018-08-18]
  12. title=Plugin access-date=2018-08-18
  13. ActivityPub support #1557 access-date=2018-08-18
  14. Nextcloud introduces social features, joins the fediverse access-date=2018-12-10
  15. We can't wait to join the fediverse. access-date=2018-12-10
  16. ActivityPub support #97 access-date=2018-08-18
  17. ActivityPub support #1241 access-date=2018-08-18
  18. OStatus #8 access-date=2018-08-18
  19. Long-form ActivityPub-enabled reader access-date=2018-08-29
  20. Federation - ActivityPub support is work in progress access-date=2018-09-16
  21. Implementing Zot author=Jason Robinson date=May 19, 2018
  22. Welcome to the new social web The Federation - access-date=2018-08-18